Belfast: A new Home for Legal Services
The global legal process outsourcing (LPO) market is expected, by 2020, to reach $8.5 billion with the ever-increasing mountain of new regulations placed on the financial services sector. These roles, while being non-traditional and non-core legal roles, require a cost-effective solution which cannot be found in cities such as London or New York, and as a result of advances in software systems and electronic communication, there is no reason these roles cannot be carried out remotely, either in-house or outsourced to an external provider.
Benefits of choosing Belfast?
When picking a location to set up a new office, a company must first determine what its individual needs are - e.g. it might be aiming to employ fresh graduates or experienced professionals. If the company aims to employ relatively fresh faced graduates, it will want to choose a location with one or more university campuses. It must also choose a city in which young people wish to remain after university, with a good selection of bars, clubs and can provide a host of cultural, leisurely activities. On the other hand, when it comes to recruiting experienced professionals, an organisation should try to base itself in a city in which their industry has an existing presence. This would provide the opportunity to recruit more experienced staff, without the need to account for relocation costs and the inevitable attrition rates that are associated with employees relocating for work.
Since LPO is expected to grow at an accelerated pace over the next 4 years, it will require the correct mix between experienced legal professionals and fresh graduates who can be trained in the process.
Belfast is in a unique position within the UK in that there are currently over 80,000 people in further education, two high ranking universities (both of which have large, highly respected law schools), great social and cultural events in addition to well-established legal and financial services sectors with big players such as Allen & Overy, Baker & Makenzie, CitiBank, PWC and KPMG employing over 31,000 experienced professionals. It should also be noted that legal roles in Belfast and within the financial services are developing at an accelerated pace from basic support functions to more valued and skilled work. This is encouraging as one of the bigger issues in Belfast over the past 30+ years has been the “Brain Drain,” where skilled graduates and workers have been leaving Northern Ireland in droves in order to seek work in mainland UK or the Republic of Ireland. An increase in skilled employment opportunities will hopefully encourage a number of skilled and experienced employees to return to Northern Ireland and entice students to remain here after graduation.
Belfast also benefits from relative cost-effectiveness compared to other UK cities such as Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. Compared to Glasgow rent prices are on average 19.3% cheaper in Belfast, 29.14% cheaper than Manchester and 20.68% cheaper than Birmingham. This cheaper cost of living would ultimately mean that wages can be lower while employees can still maintain the same standard of life. This is particularly attractive to a legal processes outsourcing firm as the general business model is based on a cost-effective solution to an ever-increasing workload. In addition to this, commercial real estate prices consistently outperform other capital cities within Europe, with the average square footage of Grade A office space costing between £17-18, just over half the price of Dublin. Furthermore, research conducted by Savills estimates that there are approximately 777,100 sq ft of major office development/refurbishment schemes in the pipeline throughout Belfast.
Two years ago, when FinTrU opened its doors it was well positioned to take full advantage of the growing demand for both legal process outsourcing and financial services outsourcing. With its head office based in Belfast, it employs over 100 employees and is set to grow to over 260 within the next five years. It already employs a number of ISDA negotiators and experienced professionals in the areas of document review, contract management and contract drafting. FinTrU also benefits in that it exists within a jurisdiction with great familiarity with English law, is a near-shore location and there are currently a number of daily flights to and from London. FinTrU can provide an experienced, high quality and cost-effective solution to meet this increasing demand.
Brian joined FinTrU in 2014. He was engaged on a Regulatory Reporting project for a US based FinTech Company before moving into a compliance role with a Tier 1 Investment Bank. Brian is a graduate of the University of Ulster where he gained a LLM in Commercial Law.
Always having a strong interest in financial services, Brian joined FinTrU through our original graduate Academy intake. The FinTrU Financial Services Academy is a bespoke programme comprising intensive training in financial markets, and financial regulation with a focus on data analysis and management.
As a member of the FinTrU Compliance Team, Brian’s key focus is in AML and Sanctions Monitoring. In addition to this he has the responsibility of performing QA on the work carried out by the team.