Business Person of the Month June 2018: Brian Conlon, Founder & CEO, First Derivatives

Business Person of the Month | Wed 4 Jul | Author – Business & Finance
Brian-Conlon-First-Derivatives
Pictured: Brian Conlon, founder and CEO, First Derivatives.

The founder of First Derivatives continues growth streak after this year’s billion pound valuation.

Brian Conlon, founder of First Derivatives, spent the end of the 1980s at the US derivatives trading desk at Morgan Stanley in London. He then moved on to become a financial engineer for Sunguard, travelling regularly between Silicon Valley and European hubs.

He eventually set up his company from home in 1996 and grew into an international concern with staff embedded in major banks in all the global financial centres from Hong Kong to San Francisco, working side-by-side with the banks staff, providing expert risk management skills. As Irish banks resisted change in the era, he only won his first Irish contract in 2007. Alongside the consultancy services, Conlon diversified into writing his own software. Another interesting move was purchasing apartments to house employees working in New York and London.

SOLID GROWTH

First Derivatives now employs over 2,000 employees worldwide and is one of the biggest graduate recruiters in Ireland. According to Mr Conlon the firm expects to take on a total of 500 graduates this year, largely in the company’s more “labour-intensive” managed services division. 

Clients of First Derivatives include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Airbus, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and HSBC.

First Derivatives reported revenue of £186m (€212m) in the 12 months to 28 February.The 23pc jump in revenue marked the 21st consecutive year of double-digit revenue growth at the company.

In January of this year, the company, of which Mr Conlon remains the single largest shareholder, reached a valuation of stg£1bn, after share prices rose sharply in Q4 2017.  

BUY OUT 

First Derivatives recently announced it is to buy the remaining shares in its US-based subsidiary Kx Systems for $53.8m (€46m). Once the transaction for the remaining 600,022 shares is completed, First Derivatives will own 100 per cent of the issued share capital of Kx Systems.

The cash deal, which will be of benefit for Arthur Whitney and Janet Lustgarten, who are co-founders and current directors of Kx Systems, and their associated persons, is to be financed from First Derivatives available facilities.

Brian Conlon said, ”Since we acquired a controlling interest in Kx Systems in October 2014 we have invested heavily across our business to target multiple new industries. The agreement to acquire 100 per cent of Kx Systems provides certainty for the group and its shareholders as we seek to realise the considerable potential we see for further growth.”

Business & Finance, Business Person of the Month

Business Person the MonthBusiness & Finance, in association with KPMG, rewards excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award. This award seeks to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and, particularly, those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.