updated 9:41 PM CET, Jan 25, 2021

Interactive Brokers announces 'new Western European base' in Dublin

Liffy River, in Dublin Liffy River, in Dublin

Interactive Brokers, the Greenwich, Connecticut-based online discount brokerage firm, has announced it has been authorized to expand its operations into Dublin, where it says it looks to establish a "new Western European base...in response to Brexit and rapid regional growth."

The NASDAQ-listed company said on Wednesday that it had received "authorization" for its new business, Interactive Brokers Ireland Ltd (IBIL), from the Central Bank of Ireland.

In a statement accompanying the announcement of the authorization, Interactive Brokers said it "expects to expand its staffing substantially over the next year to accommodate the ongoing strong growth of Interactive Brokers’ European business."

Thomas Peterffy headshotThomas Peterffy, Interactive Broker's Hungarian-born founder and chairman, explained that the expansion into Ireland was "partly due to Brexit and partly due to our plan of establishing subsidiaries around the world to support our rapid global growth.”

He added that client accounts had grown by more than 52% in a year.

As reported, Interactive Brokers opened an office in Singapore in July, and followed this up recently with the addition of an outpost in Hungary. Counting Ireland, Singapore, Hungary and the U.S., this gives it a presence in 11 countries globally, the other seven being Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Luxembourg and the UK.

It says its global staff today number around 2,000, and that it looks after more than one million client accounts in more than 220 countries and territories.

Eye on global market 

Interactive Brokers is one of a number of major financial companies that have been actively targeting the international markets, even as certain others, such as Charles Schwab (ahead of its tie-up with TD Ameritrade), have cut back recently, or, in the case of Robinhood, the popular retail trading platform, failed to open in certain markets, such as the UK, that it had said it planned to. 

The company's announcement of plans to establish a new Western European base in Dublin comes as many other globally-focused financial services companies have moved to establish offices in the European Union ahead of the departure of the UK from the EU, which is in its final stages, in order to continue to take advantage of the bloc's regime for allowing financial services to be carried out more easily across member countries' borders.   

But company officials say it's not just about Brexit. In November 2019, Interactive Brokers executive vice president of marketing and product development Steven Sanders told the American Expat Financial News Journal  that the company was getting "around two-thirds of our new business enquiries from overseas rather than from the U.S., although the largest number of our actual clients are, for now at least, still in the States."

In Ireland, Interactive Brokers has offices at 10 Earlsfort Terrace, opposite the National Concert Hall in one of Dublin's main commercial districts.According to IBIL chief operating officer Kevin Keller, the company has hired approximately 45 people so far for the new office, with plans to increase that amount by around 50% within the year. 

Those it's expected to look to hire, he added, include people in the compliance, customer services, risk, IT, finance and legal sectors. 

Interactive Brokers was founded by Peterffy more than 43 years ago, when he bought a seat on the American Stock Exchange and began trading as an individual market maker in equity options, and today claims to look after more than US$284bn on behalf of its clients. 

Although today it may be looking to grow its business outside of the U.S., initially its USP was the other way around: to bring the world to U.S. investors, in the form of the ability to trade stocks and other assets on dozens of stock exchanges, from major ones like the London Stock Exchange and Euronext to such less-well-known ones as the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and Moscow Exchange (both of which it added to its trading stable in 2019).

It sees its niche as being more "uncompromisingly focused" on technology "as a way to bring professional quality investment tools to both demanding professional traders and the average retail investor" than its more traditional rivals, and boasts that its clients anywhere in the world "can invest in multiple assets classes – in stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds, and funds – on 135 markets in 33 countries" from a single Interactive Broker investment account.