‘Ireland for Finance’, launched in April 2019, is a whole of government strategy for the development of the international financial services sector to 2025. The Strategy is structured around action measures grouped under four pillars: Operating Environment, Technology and Innovation, Talent, and Communications and Promotion. There are also three horizontal priorities which apply across the four pillars: regionalisation, sustainable finance, and workplace diversity. The vision of this strategy is for Ireland to be a top-tier location of choice for specialist international financial services and to enhance and protect our future competitiveness. The employment target for the Strategy is to reach 50,000 people in direct employment in the sector by 2025. According to the enterprise agencies, at the end of 2019, approximately 47,000 jobs are in international financial services, this is an increase of approximately 11,500 net new jobs in the five years since 2015.
The Ireland for Finance strategy is the successor to the IFS2020 strategy and a succession of Government strategies for the development of the international financial services strategy in Ireland. It is important to note that the IFS2020 Strategy had been in place long before the UK decision to leave the EU. The Ireland for Finance strategy provides a clear roadmap to maximise any opportunities that might arise.
I’m pleased to report that the Ireland for Finance strategy was included in the Programme for Government and we expect to bring an updated Ireland for Finance Action Plan 2020 to Government for approval and publication in the next few weeks. Stakeholders have been engaging on action measures in the draft Plan throughout 2020.
Minister of State Fleming and our officials have also started work on Ireland for Finance Action Plan 2021. All representative bodies and key stakeholders have been invited to return their proposals for action measures for 2021. The Ireland for Finance strategy and the Action Plan for 2021 will be informed by EU developments and the important work that the Ireland for Finance team have been carrying out with the European Commission on their consultations on Fintech and Sustainable Finance.
The 2021 Plan will also consider what measures may assist the national recovery, minimise Covid 19 impacts, and increase preparedness for Brexit. We believe that this 2021 Plan should be the focus of our energies in this regard and would be advocating that it would be brought to Government after it is finalised at the Joint Committee meeting in Q4 of this year for publication early in 2021.
Since the Brexit referendum in UK, we can point to the success of Barclays and Bank of America Merrill Lynch in banking plus the many investment firms who have chosen Ireland as their European base such as Legal and General and Aberdeen Standard. Three of the largest market infrastructure players in their respective markets have made Ireland their post Brexit location for their European business, namely Refinitiv, Equilend and DTCC. Marine insurers The Standard Club, and North P&I Club are also establishing operations here.
Kroll/KBRA became the first ratings agency to announce that their EU HQ location would be in Dublin and this was followed by S&P’s announcement in December 2017 that Dublin would become their EMEA HQ.
The Government and the state agencies, such as IDA, continue to work to fully capture any opportunities for inward investment that emerge through promoting Ireland as a committed English-speaking member of the EU with unfettered access to the EU Single Market, our continued access to EU talent and that of the Common Travel Area, in addition to our pro-business environment underpinned by a strong, fully-independent financial services regulator in the Central Bank of Ireland.
The character and composition of Ireland’s international financial services sector is going to fundamentally change in a number of ways as a result of the extensive financial services investments won in recent years, including Brexit relocations and the pipeline of future projects. The industry in Ireland is going to become deeper and more diverse.
The real impact of Brexit for the industry in Ireland may not materialise for some years. At present, firms are establishing the foundations of a new or significantly expanded presence in Ireland, while simultaneously meeting regulatory requirements, reconfiguring their overall EU business, and monitoring the process of the UK exit from the EU. When this phase is complete, they will then begin to consider future plans and ways in which to leverage and develop their new Irish entities. The future conversations with firms will be around back, middle and front office activities, product range and distribution, service offering, digital transformation, innovation and optimisation.