US financial giant Citadel Securities says it plans to treble its Irish workforce within two years and that its decision to establish a base in Dublin predates Brexit.
The company's global head of fixed income, currencies and commodities, Paul Hamill, said the Dublin move should not be viewed in the context of Brexit and was instead part of the firm's long-term expansion strategy.
"We made a decision some time ago to build a core platform in Dublin for our European options and ETF [exchange-traded funds] market-making business," he told The Irish Times. "It's important to note that we're growing not only the Dublin office but also the London office."
The Chicago-based firm is the largest US equity trader, responsible for one in five trades in the US. Its decision to establish a front-office team in Dublin is seen as a coup for the IDA and is viewed as part of a new wave of high-value foreign direct investment.
The firm has been rapidly expanding its business to compete with big banks, many of which reverted to core functions in the wake of the financial crisis.
Mr Hamill said the company's ability to "electronically precision-price live risk" had given it an edge in financial services, and he expected the Dublin business to capitalise on a growing appetite among investors for this in Europe.
The company has been trading here since the start of the year with a staff of 15 traders, analysts and programmers. Mr Hamill is in Dublin this week to attend the ACI World Congress.
He said the decision to set up in Dublin was primarily down to the availability of strong talent and a good business environment. “The strength of the Dublin environment creates competitive forces, where you get good people and growing businesses,” he said.
The Irish operation is being headed up by ex-JP Morgan Ireland chief financial officer Jonathon Lowey, who said the plan was to grow its Irish staff to 50 by 2019.
He said the intention was to bring in Stem graduates, who might have seen their careers going in the direction of Facebook, Google or LinkedIn but could equally be interested in markets.
Mr Lowey said the company tended to attract those with quantitative backgrounds “because a lot of what we do involves problem solving”.
The firm recently ran a problem-solving "Datathon" for 80 graduates from UCD, Trinity, Dublin City University, Cambridge, Oxford and elsewhere.
The winning four-person team, which included UCD graduates, will now be interviewed for full-time roles at the firm.
On how Brexit might impact financial services in Europe, Mr Hamill said: “We need to wait and see. There’s simply not enough information at this stage.”
He noted that while some big institutions may have made decisions to base jobs outside London, this was probably a function of their size.
“We’re a very flexible and nimble organisation and I think we can wait for more facts to develop before making decisions.”
Citadel Securities has taken out a 15-year lease on a 18,500sq ft penthouse office at 1 Grand Canal Square, one of the city's prime office locations adjacent to the Bord Gáis theatre, which comes with an annual rent of €1.1 million.