Bank of Ireland Group has announced plans to establish a specialist business in Belfast to service the rapidly growing offshore alternative investment funds market and specifically the hedge fund sector, which is growing by 20 per cent a year.
The investment will create 149 new high-value jobs for experienced accountants and skilled graduates over the next five years. Bank of Ireland has also announced its intention to invest around EUR19m in expanding its existing branch and business centre network in Northern Ireland with the creation of a further 100 jobs.
The new hedge fund business, which is supported by Invest Northern Ireland, will form part of Bank of Ireland Securities Services, the fund administration and custody arm of Bank of Ireland Group, which has a 370-strong workforce based in Dublin's International Financial Services Centre.
'In line with our strategy of expanding our niche skill-based businesses, we are very excited about the prospect of creating a sizeable presence in Belfast servicing the international offshore hedge fund industry,' says Bank of Ireland group chief executive Brian Goggin.
'Our Securities Services business in Dublin already services a total of EUSD160bn of assets, of which more than EUSD3.5bn is in hedge funds, and we believe there is considerable potential for expansion in this market.
'We currently have a significant presence in Northern Ireland with 44 branches, 8 business centres and 1,300 staff across a range of business lines. A major factor in our decision to locate our new Securities Services business in Belfast reflects the quality of professional people in the marketplace and our existing strong links with the universities here as a result of placement programmes.
'This is a skill, not scale business and we are confident that there is a significant pool of quality professionals that we can attract. The restoration of devolution has not only brought a greater sense of hope and optimism for the future but it has also projected the Northern Ireland economy onto centre stage and created the circumstances for strong business growth.'
Leslie Morrison, chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland, says: 'The hedge funds centre of excellence will reinforce Northern Ireland's reputation as a premier location for investment whilst playing an integral role in the growth of Bank of Ireland Securities Services offering to its international client base.
'This investment is particularly important as it will add value to Northern Ireland's rapidly developing financial services sector, highlight the future growth potential which exists and ensure that the skills of local people are fully utilised for maximum economic benefit.'
Bank of Ireland Securities Services offers administration and custody services to specialised providers of exchange traded funds, multi-manager funds, property funds, hedge funds and fund of hedge funds, mutual funds, money market funds and structure funds for a range of offshore structures and clients.
It also offers a comprehensive range of middle-office administration services including trade capture and trade matching. The business also offers its clients access to its global securities lending programme in addition to providing banking facilities through the bank's global markets and corporate banking divisions.