Industry: Financial Services

Organisation: Citi

The Story of Citi
Citi was founded in New York over 210 years ago and almost 100 years later, began expanding outside the US.

In 1965, Citi was one of the first foreign banks to open an office in Dublin. Its numbers grew rapidly to over 1,500 employees in the mid-to-late 1990s. It later became Citibank Europe plc now the main bank subsidiary for Citi in Europe, employing c.13,000 staff in the EU

Citi opened its doors in Belfast in 2005 with 375 staff delivering technology services to Citi’s Global Institutional Clients Group.

Since 2016, Citi has hired hundreds of people in both locations. Citi is now a significant employer in Ireland and one of the largest employers and the largest provider of financial services in Northern Ireland.

The unstable political environment that existed prior to the BGFA would have made it difficult for any global business to plan a long-term growth strategy in Northern Ireland. Following the BGFA, Citi saw the opportunity to establish a presence in a talent rich area as a pioneering employer in the Financial Services industry. This was a significant factor in Citi’s decision to locate a major site in Belfast.

Short-term impact of the BGFA on the business
Access to talent was the key motivator for companies to setting up in Northern Ireland after the BGFA. This was certainly the case for Citi who in 2005 chose Belfast based on this and other factors, including proximity to Dublin and London which allowed greater collaboration and connection for Citi, fostering stronger opportunities for growth.

Initially sourcing and recruiting local talent from universities from 2005, it was evident that such a high standard of education meant that there was a broader talent pool from which Citi could draw on to grow its Belfast operations.

The talent pool continues to be a key asset to Northern Ireland, putting it on the map of global business. The value proposition of the Belfast site created a snowball effect for both the bank and the wider industry in Northern Ireland. There are considerable number of other firms in the Financial Services industry who have replicated parts of the Citi model.

Long term positive impact of the BGFA on the business
Citi has expanded its footprint in Northern Ireland nearly tenfold in under twenty years – from 375 in 2005 to over 3500 employees today. It continues to grow and build upon its footprint as the only global investment bank to operate in Northern Ireland.  

Citi Belfast offers a wide variety of roles particularly in markets operations, legal, compliance, HR and technology. There has been similar growth in roles in these key areas in Dublin, which has allowed for greater connection between the two sites.

Citi has also expanded in Ireland and now employs 2800 people in Dublin, following the announcement of 300 new jobs in 2022. Dublin is also now home to a Citi Innovation Lab, the first of five global labs for Citi (established in 2009) and the location of Citi’s Artificial Intelligence Centre of Excellence established in 2021. In 2023 Citi announced it has purchased a new site at the Waterfront South Central in the Dublin Docklands, where it will develop a new modern office building which will emit zero carbon in normal operations. This is a further reinforcement of Citi’s long-term commitment to the island of Ireland.

While the development of the financial and business services sectors is undoubtedly positive, it is very difficult to quantify how responsible the BGFA is for this success. It is however fair to say, if not for the BGFA, Citi would not have established its business in Northern Ireland.