Thursday, June 20, 2024

Sweet Symphony of jobs for Belfast

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The boss of a New York-headquartered markets infrastructure and technology specialist has honoured a commitment to Belfast which he made when a major US investment conference was held in the city last September.

Ben Chrnelich, president and chief financial officer at Symphony, revealed then that he was mulling over a number of locations for the firm’s European hub, and had Belfast on top of his list.

And he has now confirmed that Symphony will initially bring 17 jobs to the city (average salary £50,000), with a pledge to create at least twice as many more positions soon after.

The new recruits – in roles spanning engineering, finance, legal and compliance roles – will initially be based at River House in Belfast’s High Street.

For Chrnelich, it’s a second time around the block in Belfast, as he was an integral part of the team which helped build up NYSE Technologies when it opened in the city in 2007.

He told the Irish News that his previous experience of setting up a business in the city, and the “overwhelming success” of September’s NI Investment Summit, was the clincher.

He said: “That was by far the best investment event I’ve ever been to, and after speaking to other investors and to the local universities, I was convinced Northern Ireland was the best fit for us.

“The new hub will help Symphony to achieve its growth plans by providing the capacity required to support our rapidly-growing business.

“We’re excited about the availability of talent here. I’d say the quality of the workforce and the universities isn’t just phenomenal, but unique.”

He went on: “We’ve had great support from Invest NI for these initial 17 roles. You could say 17 is a lucky number for me, as my parents’ anniversary is on June 17!

“We’ve 10 people in place already and are hugely excited at our future prospects in Belfast.

“But we’ll get to 50 staff fairly quickly, and we’ll re-evaluate from there.”

Ben added: “When I spoke to the media last year I suggested we might eventually employ up to 100 people. And when we say, we do, and we follow through on our commitments.”

US Special Envoy Joe Kennedy III (left) and Lord Dominic Johnson, during last month's NI Investment Summit in Belfast.
US Special Envoy Joe Kennedy (left) and Lord Dominic Johnson pictured at last September’s NI Investment Summit in Belfast, which has prompted Symphony to set up in the city

Symphony started in New York in 2014 as a messaging platform to solve data security and compliance, and today it develops communications software for global finance with platforms for messaging, voice, directory and analytics.

Now employing 500 staff in New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sophia Antipolis, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Vietnam and Belfast, the company’s user base is currently the largest in financial services, with more than 625,000 users servicing 1,000 institutions.

Invest NI’s executive director of international business Steve Harper said: “The new jobs created by Symphony will all pay well above the Northern Ireland private sector median, contributing £845,000 a year in additional annual salaries to the local economy.

“It has indicated that Northern Ireland’s highly-skilled talent supply across a number of functions as well as strong business links to academia were important factors in its decision to locate here, and its presence here will further strengthen Northern Ireland’s reputation as a centre of excellence for tech and financial services.”

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