Jacksonville’s reputation as an international banking and financial powerhouse is growing as more companies seek the area’s lower cost of living compared to traditional markets and the more than 60,000 – and growing – employees that work in the region’s financial services industry.
Shemara Wikramanayake, CEO of Australian-based Macquarie Group, one of the region’s leading financial services companies, recently toured Jacksonville’s global office to showcase the company’s expanded operations. She was a member of Macquarie’s executive committee in 2015 that decided to establish a global financial services office in Jacksonville due to the city’s strong financial services presence and available talent pool.
Macquarie has been so impressed with the Northeast Florida workforce that the company has expanded well beyond its initial agreement with the city to create 123 jobs.
Now, the office has grown to more than 270 employees, growing by 38 percent in the past year alone, with 85 percent of the workers hired locally. The company has hired graduates from the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University and offered internships to students. It is also working with the institutions on workforce development programs.
Although most of the employees were hired locally, the company proudly displays a global map with pins showing the workers came to Jacksonville from 27 countries.
“It’s a very diverse workforce,” said Wikramanayake, who said 58 percent of the top-level managers in the Jacksonville office are female and a majority of the staff are women.
Besides the quality of the labor pool, Wikramanayake said other factors influencing Macquarie’s decision to open the office included the region’s attractive lifestyle and that “it was in the right time zone” to support the company’s operations.
Macquarie has 2,800 U.S. employees in 22 locations, and it expects to continue to expand the Jacksonville office. Since opening with finance functions, the Jacksonville office has added staff for other operations including risk management, human resources and information technology.
For more information, read the article in Jacksonville Daily Record.