Business

Is Belfast set for a Symphony of new technology jobs?

Symphony's president and chief financial officer Benjamin Chrnelich pictured at the investment summit in Belfast
Symphony's president and chief financial officer Benjamin Chrnelich pictured at the investment summit in Belfast Symphony's president and chief financial officer Benjamin Chrnelich pictured at the investment summit in Belfast

NEW York-headquartered markets infrastructure and technology specialist Symphony is "actively considering" setting up an operation in Belfast which could employ up to 100 people.

And while it is mulling over a number of other European locations, including Denmark, its president and chief financial officer Benjamin Chrnelich suggests Northern Ireland is his preferred option.

In a briefing to journalists at the NI investment summit in the ICC, he said: "We're looking to open a standalone office, and there's a high probability this is the place we'd like to be."

Symphony started in New York in 2014 as a messaging platform to solve data security and compliance, be an open architecture platform and facilitate real-time cross-company communication.

Now employing 600 staff, the company’s user base is currently the largest in financial services, with more than half a million users servicing 1,000 institutions.

Chrnelich is no stranger to Belfast, having been part of the team which helped build up NYSE Technologies when it opened in the city in 2007.

And insisting that the currently political instability won't spook Symphony, he added: "I had the privilege of working with Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness in that first big New York Stock Exchange investment, so I've seen that the political environment usually finds a way to drive good economic outcomes."

Symphony already has a small presence locally through its technology development partner Version 1, but wants to significantly expand its footprint.

Chrnelich said the north's lower cost base - and the potential advantages from the Windsor Framework - are both part of the attraction.

"As a business, you're always looking for cost-effectiveness. You consider the skill set, the talent and the expertise, and then you look at what that will cost you relative to your products, and if on a relative basis it is less expensive than another locations.

"And, for sure, the Windsor Framework and its dual market access is an attraction. It's a unique and unexpected silver lining which could have a lot of benefits for us and other companies wanting to come here."

Symphony was among 200 international delegates from the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific at the two-day investment summit at ICC Belfast, where the aim was to turbo-charge inward investment into the north.

Chrnelich said: "This is by far the best investment event I've been to, either here or in other places."