Belfast tops ranks of fast-growing offices at advisory firm PwC
Investment and a recruitment drive have made the Northern Ireland offices of PwC its fastest-growing in the UK for a second year in a row.
The business advisory firm said its investment here was a vote of confidence in the economy despite political uncertainty.
This year's announcement of a move to the new £70m Merchant Square office development in Belfast city centre had helped secure its ranking in the number one spot.
The report also said that PwC had boosted its workforce in Belfast by over 80% over the last three years. Numbers have grown from 1,259 in June 2016 to around 2,300 people, making Belfast PwC's biggest office outside London.
Staff will be on the move from Waterfront Plaza to the Merchant Square development in Wellington Place in early 2021.
The deal to move to the 200,000 sq m Merchant Square was Belfast's biggest ever private-sector office letting, and gives PwC room for another 500 people.
PwC said much of Belfast's growth was down to the importance of its operational delivery service for clients, known was Operate.
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It had helped deliver £100m revenue in the past year, while total revenue for the year ending June 30 was up 12% to £4.23bn.
Paul Terrington, PwC NI chairman and head of UK regions, said: "We've seen exceptional growth in Northern Ireland and the move to Merchant Square is a catalyst for us to transform how we work for our clients in a new, technology-enabled way.
"Against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty, the board's decision to invest here underlines its confidence in Northern Ireland as a place to do business, attract talent and build for the future."
He said demand for its technology services was particularly high. "Operate is a significant asset for us and validates the firm's continual challenge to improve on its offering for clients who seek our support to transform their business.
"By combining industry knowledge, technology solutions and human insight, under our Intelligent Digital approach, we're delivering greater efficiency and value.
"We have a distinct position in the local market as the firm's global hub for technology, digital advisory services and research. Clients of all shapes and sizes, from start-ups, family businesses and international firms, have unrivalled access to the latest tech, unique insight and dedicated support - something which will be amplified in Merchant Square - designed to be the most accessible PwC office in the UK."
According to the Financial Times, the results also show that the firm's 913 equity partners will receive an average £765,000 for the year, a 7% pay increase. PwC said that 20 entrants to Queen's University Belfast were among 111 people to join the first year of its technology degree apprenticeship. It's also launched an MSc in Professional Services Operational Delivery with Ulster University.