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£38m expansion by Belfast company will result in 605 new jobs

By Ryan McAleer

The Cork man whose financial services firm is creating 605 jobs here in a £38m expansion has said his enterprise is going "gangbusters" despite the uncertainty over the impact of Brexit.

Darragh McCarthy's company FinTrU has grown rapidly since he chose Belfast as the location for his new start-up in late 2013.

Backed by economic development agency Invest NI, he initially planned to recruit 80 people over three years. Just over four years later the business is on course to expand its workforce to 850, with 300 new posts in Belfast and 305 in the centre of Londonderry.

It's expected to generate £15m in salaries and deliver £20m in new export sales for the company.

FinTrU has put its growth largely down to demand driven by global investment banks. Its regulatory resourcing services include legal, risk, compliance, KYC (know your customer), operations and consultancy.

Mr McCarthy said he holds strong views on Brexit, but retains hope that "sensible heads will prevail".

But, he continued, there were plenty of opportunities provided by the global movement for greater levels of compliance and regulatory alignment in the financial services sector.

"I'm reluctant to say that I'm a beneficiary of Brexit, I have very strong views on Brexit, but let me just say, in 2018, our business is going gangbusters," said Mr McCarthy.

"We could not be more successful, more profitable and growing more quickly.

"We are scaling up for a reason and we are very optimistic about the future."

The company employs 240 people at offices in Belfast's Gasworks and on the Dublin Road. FinTrU has said it will eventually need to acquire new office space in the city.

It is also due to move into new premises in Derry city centre on October 1.

Invest NI has once again backed the company's expansion plans, providing £3.2m. Another £2.4m will come from the Department for the Economy to help fund the recruitment, which will be largely achieved through the assured skills programme delivered alongside the North West Regional College in Derry and Belfast Metropolitan College.

Three programmes will be held in each city every year for the next five years. FinTrU expects the programmes to produce 120 new employees annually. It said its academy programmes are massively oversubscribed.

Offering around 20 spaces to graduates, the latest run in Belfast attracted more than 200 applications.

The first Derry academy opened for entries yesterday, with the first intake due to start on August 20.

Mr McCarthy said the expansion into Derry has in part been driven by desire to expand the firm's talent pool and by the number of employees already commuting to Belfast from the north west.

"Based on the success we've had to date, it seems logical that we would expand further within Northern Ireland - the north west seemed the next most logical place."

Last year he told this newspaper that he is on course to reach 1,000 employees in the coming years. Yesterday, he said he was considering other locations here for future expansion and didn't rule out a move over the border.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we look at locations in the Republic of Ireland in time, particularly once Brexit is clarified," he said.

"That's something that's on our radar screen, but I think we can only process so much and I think 605 jobs in five years is already quite a lot to process."

Chief executive of Invest NI, Alastair Hamilton said there had been "a meeting of minds" on the Derry move.

The economic support agency has often faced criticism over the investment - or lack of it - it has secured for the north west.

"We are seeking to try to draw more first-time investment to Derry/Londonderry and we have been successful in that over the last couple of years with some projects," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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