News & Events

European Financial Forum - Address by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation – Heather Humphreys, T.D.

Dublin Castle – 31 January 2018

Address by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation – Heather Humphreys, T.D.

Good afternoon, everyone.

This may be the European Financial Forum, but we truly have an international profile of participants at today’s event.

And so, I want to extend a special welcome to those of you who have travelled from far and wide to be in our country’s capital today – céad míle fáilte, or a hundred thousand welcomes.

Your collective presence here serves to remind us that this is truly a global industry.

This Forum is entitled ‘Building a New Future for International Financial Services’.

Well, I can assure you that Ireland is committed to building that new future, and providing all the assistance and support required in order to make this the location of choice for International Financial Services.

Over 30 years ago, the decision was taken to establish the International Financial Services Centre, or the IFSC, as it is known.

From this decision, an industry has been developed that employs over 40,000 people right across the country.

That transformation did not happen by chance: it happened because successive Irish Governments were committed to the industry, and the desire to help it succeed.

Many of you here will be familiar with the Government’s strategy, IFS2020, developed, wholly and exclusively for the International Financial Services Industry.

Initiatives such as IFS2020 make clear our ambition and vision for Ireland to be a champion when it comes to IFS.

At present, Ireland is home to over 440 IFS companies.

Significantly, this is split almost 50:50 between foreign-owned and Irish-owned.

The enterprise development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, operating under the remit of my Department, have played a primary role in delivering on the ambitious jobs targets set out in the IFS2020 strategy.

They have done this by both attracting foreign direct investment, and supporting the growth of Irish-owned businesses in overseas markets.

IDA Ireland continues to deliver in this sector, with client companies creating approximately 2,000 additional jobs for the sector in 2017 bringing the total to 32,000.

I think it’s fair to say, that without the focussed efforts of the IDA over the past 30 years, many of you would not be present here today.

Enterprise Ireland, our agency with responsibility for the development of Irish-owned businesses internationally, has over 200 clients operating in the international financial service and technology sector, including start-ups, scaling, and large multinational Irish companies, a significant number of which are based in the regions.

Enterprise Ireland-supported companies employed nearly 10,000 people at the end of 2017, clearly demonstrating the harmony that exists between large financial institutions and technology solution providers in Ireland.

They offer innovative solutions and services in payments, regulatory technologies, and broader FinTech applications across the world.

Taken together, these companies contribute to an awareness and understanding of the industry’s needs by Government, and allow for synergies, knowledge pools and clusters of excellence to develop, not only in Dublin, but right across the country.

From our humble beginnings 30 years ago, Ireland is now:

  • The 4th largest exporter of Financial Services in the EU.
  • The No. 1 location for Alternative Investment Funds.
  • 15 of the top 20 global banks are based in Ireland.
  • 40% of the world’s Hedge Funds with assets exceeding €4 Trillion are administered from Ireland, making Ireland the leading location in the world.
  • Irish-based aviation lessors manage more than €159 billion in assets, equating to 26% of the world’s global aircraft fleet, and 63% of the world’s leased assets.

This has been achieved by investing in understanding the market, and the requirements of some of the toughest professional procurement and business teams – in institutions like yours.

One of the priority areas identified by Minister D’Arcy in this year’s IFS2020 Action Plan is for a renewed regional focus.

This is another area in which I have a strong interest, and an aim which I wholeheartedly support.

Currently, it is estimated that approximately one third of all IFS jobs are outside of Dublin.

These are spread right across the country, from Donegal to Kerry, and most places in between.

Indeed, IDA clients in the IFS sector are now based in 21 of the 26 counties.

You know better than I that this industry is truly mobile, and, provided the right infrastructure is in place, location choices are almost limitless.

IDA Ireland runs a ‘second site initiative’, which focuses on the possibility of Dublin-based clients basing a second site outside of Dublin, therefore allowing staff to avail of the many benefits that come from being based in our regions.

In this spirit, I would strongly encourage anyone here thinking of locating in Ireland to consider the regions - you won’t regret it!

Ireland is home to 16 of the top 20 global technology firms and more than 500 software firms overall.

This ‘tech’ know-how, combined with the substantial IFS expertise outlined earlier, have converged to form a growing ‘FINTECH’ sector.

Some of you may have attended Enterprise Ireland’s ‘Future of Fintech’ conference yesterday - an important event, giving locally-based companies the chance to meet with their international counterparts.

Throughout 2018, Enterprise Ireland will be targeting funds directly at FinTech start-ups, in addition to their normal funding operations.

IDA has also engaged with a number of FinTech companies –

Among the significant Fintech payments companies with operations in Ireland are Stripe, Mastercard and Square.

The presence of so many of the world’s leading financial services and technology companies - in an environment that is rich with technology companies of all sizes - benefits all participants. 

  • They complement each other.
  • They work together.
  • They advise and support each other.
  • They provide and develop business opportunities that we see being delivered across the world.

Now, you might wonder how I have managed to talk for this long without mentioning a certain UK referendum result about 18 months ago - perhaps, you think I’ve forgotten about it?

No, as a resident of a border county, I am only too aware of Brexit, its repercussions, and the threats and opportunities it presents.

For IFS in particular, Brexit brings many opportunities and many challenges.

Overall, it has the potential to transform how companies operating in the EU go about their business.

To that end, my Department has allocated significant additional resources to Brexit-related staff in both the Department and across its agencies.

I can assure you that we are committed to rising to the challenges in order to grasp the opportunities.

EU membership remains central to the success of our open, competitive economy, and has been the foundation for much of the economic and social progress we have made over the last four decades.

As an EU Member State, we have unfettered access to the EU’s Single Market of more than 500 million citizens.

I realise that there are many other areas that I could touch on here, but I think what is most important is that I emphasise the co-ordinated approach between Government and Industry, evidenced by the IFS2020 Strategy and the accompanying Action Plan for 2018.

That plan, drawn on industry needs and overall strategic goals, is a concrete illustration of the importance we place on listening to and reacting to the needs of the sector.

We value this industry and its continued future in Ireland, and we will support it through the challenges associated with Brexit and the changing regulatory environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you are very much aware, it is the hard work and innovation coming from companies like yours that ultimately creates growth.

However, as I know you appreciate, your businesses cannot thrive without the right regulatory, enterprise and employment environment from which to operate.

We will do our best to continue delivering that environment, and I am sure that you will continue to deliver on your part.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of the Forum.