Wednesday 21 March 2018

Conlon's firm a striking success

THE pace of expansion at Brian Conlon's Northern Irish firm First Derivatives is impressive. The 17-year-old financial consulting firm now boasts a staff of 750 and has built itself up as a boutique player in an industry dominated by massive global giants like Accenture.

The Newry native has an interesting history. He trained with KPMG before joining the risk-management team at Morgan Stanley in London, and worked with NASDAQ-quoted derivatives software house SunGard as a capital markets consultant.

After returning to Newry in 1996, he set up First Derivatives from a spare bedroom in his family home with his mum acting as secretary.

Now he counts global financial institutions like Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, Wells Fargo and RBS as clients.

The company's pace of growth in the last three years is particularly striking; after securing a £4.3m (€5m) grant from government enterprise body Invest Northern Ireland, it added 350 people to its staff numbers.

Even so, it has wisely begun to divest itself of the large number of properties it acquired to house staff as it expanded, a wise choice for a business whose primary activity has nothing to do with property.

What we like most about Mr Conlon's firm is that it has determinedly been kept local, despite the fact that its employees are dotted around the world.

It might work with massive clients in ever-more-exotic locations like Chile and Moscow, but it is still headquartered on the quays in humble Border-shopping hub Newry, and is one of the town's biggest employers.

Irish Independent

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