Untapped potential holding back opportunities for growth in financial services in Ireland

May 10, 2024
  • Financial Services Ireland launches new policy priorities for the upcoming elections
  • Proposals designed to secure more jobs and growth in financial services in Ireland
  • Measures centred on competitiveness, digitalisation, sustainability, skills and DEI

Ireland risks foregoing opportunities to accelerate jobs and economic growth associated with financial services, with untapped potential in a number of areas.

To harness the untapped potential that exists, Financial Services Ireland (FSI), the Ibec group that represents the sector, is today launching Financial Services in Ireland: Global Reach, Local Roots, a new series of policy proposals that will underpin FSI’s engagements with political representatives ahead of the next general election.

The proposals are centred on the areas of competitiveness, digitalisation, sustainable finance, skills, and diversity, equity & inclusion.

FSI Director Patricia Callan said: The financial services industry contributes approximately €18.2bn to Irish GDP every year, along with €2.7bn of corporation tax. It employs over 103,500 people, across all of Ireland, with an additional 20,000 employed in auxiliary services that support the sector. The sector is continuing to grow but its success cannot be taken for granted. We have set out a series of measures that will help to increase the talent pipeline, enhance our competitiveness, and support firms of all sizes to boost innovation. The proposals will also help to make Ireland a centre of excellence in sustainable finance, an area that has enormous growth potential given the scale of the contribution that financial services will make in funding the transition to net zero.

The proposals being put forward include:

  • Building a sustainable finance talent pipeline. Ireland can be a leader in this area due to its track record and reputation as a robust and reliable financial services sector. In order to harness this potential, we need to address the skills gap that currently exist in the area through a joined-up approach across third-level, alternative access routes, on-the-job learning, and peer learning.
  • Enhancing Ireland’s infrastructure, education and childcare environments. A national infrastructure strategy is necessary to address housing shortages and improve transport links, so that Ireland is a more attractive place for financial services workers to locate. Similarly, more resources should be allocated to the education and childcare systems in order to create a more attractive environment for families.
  • Abolition of the banking levy. The continued existence of this legacy measure discourages potential new entrants to the retail banking market. There is continuing uncertainty around the future of the levy and, as set out in the Retail Banking Review, its potential application beyond the institutions that are currently affected. We believe this uncertainty should be definitively removed with the abolition of the levy, providing an opportunity to further increase competition, jobs and growth.
  • Continued investment in the Women in Finance Charter. Initiatives like the Charter help to deliver a more diverse workforce, that is more representative of the society in which it operates and has greater diversity of thought. This fosters better decision-making and helps encourage more entrants into the sector. The Charter’s signatories (87) now represent over half the employees working in the financial services sector in Ireland. The Government’s support for the initiative is welcome, but more will be required in order to ensure the continued success of the Charter.

FSI Chair Joe Heneghan (Partner & CEO of Revolut Europe) will formally launch the proposals at FSI’s annual lunch event in Dublin today, at which the keynote speaker is Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union.

The proposals are derived from FSI’s engagement with its 160 member firms, who span the whole range of financial services from banking, insurance and reinsurance to aircraft leasing and digital finance. FSI is celebrating its 40th year in 2024.