Fund Management

Focus On Ireland As A Growing Financial Hub

Amanda Cheesley Deputy Editor Dublin 19 October 2023

Focus On Ireland As A Growing Financial Hub

Michael D’Arcy, former Irish minister of state at the department of finance, discusses the outlook for fund management in Ireland on the 25th anniversary event of Mediolanum International Funds, where the future of artificial intelligence also came in for scrutiny.

Michael D’Arcy, CEO of the Irish Association of Investment Managers, highlighted the increasing importance of Ireland as a financial hub at an event held by Mediolanum International Funds (MIFL) in Dublin last week.

“We are now a world-leading funds jurisdiction, with €4.4 trillion ($4.6 billion) of domiciled funds in Ireland,” D’Arcy said.

After the UK voted to depart the European Union in 2016, there has been an exodus of business units from banks and asset managers to Ireland to ensure access to the EU's Single Market, particularly in areas such as funds, where EU rules enable "passporting". A number of firms have created EU subsidiaries in Dublin and other parts of Ireland. The country's status has also fueled rising property prices in Dublin, for example. Ireland also has a version of the UK's resident non-domiciled system that encourages wealthy individuals to live there.

For years, Ireland has also benefited from one of the developed world's lowest corporate tax rates - currently in the low single-digits - although moves by US President Joe Biden to call for a global floor of 15 per cent mean Ireland will have to hike it. 

In his speech, D’Arcy said: “The very attractive Irish corporation tax rate of 12.5 per cent is a compelling proposition for firms to establish here.” The rate is substantially lower than many other economies, including the UK, France, Germany, the US and China. Nevertheless, in October 2021, it was announced that Ireland would increase its corporation tax rate to 15 per cent for certain large multinational companies.  

D’Arcy said that a growing number of investment asset managers have also been gravitating towards Ireland since Brexit in order to get access to European markets. He cited companies such as Amundi, Blackrock, State Street and MIFL that have established themselves there and he believes that the growth will continue. “There are still many enquiries from firms [wanting] to establish themselves in Ireland,” he added. The funds industry is increasing every year and he expects the financial services sector to continue rising by 25 to 29 per cent by 2025.

“In the last five years, asset management from Ireland has increased by almost 60 per cent. In the last three years, we have also doubled our membership and the assets under management of our members have grown from €1.3 trillion to €3.1 trillion,” D’Arcy continued. “Key growth opportunities have been identified in the investment funds sector, including exchange-traded funds, digital assets and sustainable finance,” he added.

D'Arcy also stressed the importance of regulation: “We must focus on the quality of regulation. The structures in place are good. We need clarity and certainty to act in the best interest of the consumer. Next year will also be an unusual one as there will be seven general elections in the EU, a new European Parliament and Commission as well as UK elections. A lot of changes will happen over that period.”

The move came on MIFL’s 25th anniversary at the MedMe event in Dublin, in the presence of Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, the Irish minister of state at the department of finance.

Artificial intelligence
Eoin Lane, global head of AI at BNY Mellon, drew attention to the important role AI will play in wealth management: “There are a lot of challenges and opportunities out there for investors in wealth management. If wealth managers don’t embrace AI now, they will get left behind.” 

Lane sees AI as complementing the wealth manager's role, rather than replacing it, helping them to become more efficient. This was echoed at the event by the CEO of MIFL, Furio Pietribiasi, who thinks human-driven advice from wealth managers is here to stay. “A machine cannot manage a human being’s emotions. A tool like AI will be a plus but it will never take over a human being,” he said. Benefits of AI range from automating repetitive tasks, providing data-driven advice in specific areas such as portfolio optimisation, risk management and tax analysis.

They were not alone in their views – Annabelle Bryde, managing director and head of UK Private Bank and Crown Dependencies at Barclays Private Bank, also stressed the importance of the human touch. See more here

MIFL is a management company approved by the Central Bank of Ireland to manage UCITS or undertakings for the collective investment in transferable securities, which are investment funds regulated at EU level, and Non UCITS funds. See other articles here about the firm from the event last week. 

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