Grant Thornton latest consultancy to create jobs in Belfast

09 October 2018 3 min. read
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The UK’s fifth largest auditing and advisory firm has become the latest consultancy to announce job creation plans in Belfast. Grant Thornton is set to employ almost 50 professionals for new consulting activities in Northern Ireland’s largest city.

The economy of Northern Ireland is struggling of late, with growth having stagnated over the past two years. With output continuing to fall, as the culmination of Brexit threatens to derail the rest of the UK, one expert even warned that Northern Ireland’s markets are on the brink of 'recessionary territory'.

CBI NI Director Angela McGowan explained, “A shrinking economy reduces much-needed revenues for our public services, limits opportunities for young people and sends out the wrong signal to foreign investors at a time when the global economy is in robust health, with a solid growth rate of 3.9%."

Grant Thornton latest consultancy to create jobs in Belfast

It has not been doom and gloom for all sectors of Northern Ireland’s business community however. Business is booming for a growing number of consultants looking to ply their trade in the six counties. Indeed, Big Four firm PwC recently reported that Northern Ireland represents its fastest growing UK region, with the professional services firm’s Belfast office doubling its headcount during the last year.

As the rest of the consulting industry bids to tap into this growth opportunity, presumably buoyed by clients both looking for new business techniques to overcome their poor output, and ways of insulating themselves from Brexit uncertainty, many firms have invested heavily in the region in recent months. Fellow Big Four competitor Deloitte aims to have increased its headcount in Belfast to 1,000 over the next year, while RSM looked to better profit from its Northern Ireland-residing wing by merging it fully with its larger UK business.

The UK Government also seems to believe that this push of consulting firms into Northern Ireland could revitalise the wider economy, as it has invested extensively in it. To that end, earlier in 2018, PA Consulting announced that it would create some 400 new positions, with backing of around £4 million in state grants coming from Invest NI. Now, financial advisory firm Grant Thornton has similarly announced it is creating 48 new jobs at its Belfast operation, with the support of Invest NI.

Grant Thornton told the British press that the move comes as it looks to start a range of new consultancy activities. The development will receive grants of £240,000 from Invest NI, in order to help the firm recruit change management experts, IT and cyber specialists and economic advisers.

According to Richard Gillan, Grant Thornton’s Partner in charge of its Belfast office, the announcement has been driven by heightened demand in Northern Ireland, with the firm having trebled its turnover over the past four years. He added, "More recently, we have witnessed a significant uplift in the provision of strategic consulting advice, including in relation to Brexit.”

Des Gartland from Invest NI called the development was a "high-value project." He explained, "This was a mobile project that could have been located elsewhere so we are pleased that our support was able to help secure the investment for Northern Ireland.”