Ireland for Finance is the whole-of-government strategy to develop the international financial services sector in the export of financial services products, writes Minister of State with responsibility for Financial Services Seán Fleming TD.
The strategy is a key element of the long-standing government commitment to enhance Ireland’s economic standing as a place of talent, innovation, and experience in international financial services.
The industry has gone from strength to strength, through a dedicated partnership approach between the public and the private sector. This dates back to the origination of the International Financial Services Centre in the late 1980s.
Since then the sector has developed into an important pillar of the Irish economy. Direct employment in the portfolio of firms in international financial services from both the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and Enterprise Ireland stands at a record 52,000 people. Significantly, 30 per cent of these jobs are outside of Dublin. This sector contributes substantially through payroll taxes, VAT, and corporation tax to services in Ireland.
When combined with the many indirect jobs in the provision of professional services that the international financial services sector supports, the levels of opportunity for people that the industry is creating has never been greater.
Ireland is a specialist centre for international financial services, one with deep industry expertise in defined areas, such as investment funds, asset administration, aircraft leasing, fintech and payments.
Over time the sector has also proven itself resilient over a number of different testing economic cycles. While Brexit has been a significant challenge on many fronts for Ireland, it has proven to be a benefit to Ireland in international financial services. Many firms chose Ireland more so than any other destination in the EU to relocate from the UK to maintain access to the single market.
This has broadened the reach of the already strong investment funds sector and has made new opportunities possible for large cross border international banking and insurance firms.
The attraction of Ireland for those firms is closely linked to the strong enterprise platform focused on exports and innovation, coupled with our membership of the EU and a strong independent regulator. In addition to these factors, many firms welcomed the partnership model behind Ireland for Finance and recognised the forward-looking ambition of the Government to develop the international financial services here.
To enhance and extend the effectiveness of the Government’s approach to international financial services, I have begun a focused update of the Ireland for Finance strategy. The updated strategy will focus on delivering a more globally digitally enabled and decarbonised society. This will create a new set of opportunities for the international financial services industry here. The updated strategy will be published in the middle of this year.
The impact of technology on the global economy and financial services became particularly evident during the pandemic. The capacity of innovation developed over many years delivered a seamless move to remote working and new ways of using financial products that were unimaginable in the past.
“In the area of payments, often cited as the gateway of fintech, Ireland has already achieved a strong leadership position.”
The levels of investment in fintech from venture capital and other investors have seen significant increases as both new entrants and the incumbents look to capture the opportunities that digital technologies present.
Ireland is particularly well placed to benefit from this digital transformation in financial services as a well-developed financial centre with an established technology sector featuring the leading names from around the world.
In the area of payments, often cited as the gateway of fintech, Ireland has already achieved a strong leadership position as a location for innovative companies like Fexco, Stripe and Mastercard who all have large development teams operating here.
The digital finance ecosystem has also expanded in recent years to include many of the institutional financial services providers that have chosen Ireland to help them develop their fintech capability. Ireland is being recognised for the unique blend of experience that we have in technology and finance.
Increasingly technology is also playing a significant role in how firms meet the demands of both regulators and consumers to explain how they address environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
Compliance with the ambitious targets that Ireland, the EU and the United Nations have set to take action on climate change require greater levels of disclosure around the activities of all organisations and financial services firms.
Harnessing the potential of ESG data can help contribute towards sustainability goals. As part of the Government’s Sustainable Finance Roadmap we are creating a dedicated framework to capitalise on this opportunity.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the executives from both the public and the private sector, Ireland is in a strong position to respond to the opportunities before us in international financial services.
The core purpose of the Ireland for Finance strategy is to create choices for people in their careers and to encourage more people from more diverse backgrounds to participate in the opportunities out there. To achieve this pipeline of diverse talent we are working in tandem with the Department of Higher Education, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.
The update of the Ireland for Finance strategy that we are carrying out seeks to build on the successes we have achieved to date and make the most of the exciting changes taking place in digital and sustainable finance.
While there are challenges that the sector must address, not least the current geopolitical uncertainty, the combination of partnership and innovation will be at the heart of the next phase of the Government’s approach to international financial services.