Asset 2

Brexit and the impact for the Financial Services Market in Ireland

12 January 2021 by Finlay Barry
Brexit and the impact for the Financial Services Market in Ireland

With so much uncertainty being carried into 2021 in a global pandemic, we are now looking at a more optimistic year due to the imminent approval of several vaccines. However, we are still facing a less optimistic challenge of Brexit and its effect on the Irish economy. 

The UK leaving the EU will have varying degrees of impact across countries, however, Ireland is uniquely exposed to Brexit due to the very high trade intensity with the UK. Circa 15% of Irish goods and services are destined for the UK on top of many other goods that use the UK land bridge for access to continental Europe.

Whereas some areas such as Agri, pharma, and machinery will undoubtedly be adversely impacted in the short term, there are opportunities for Ireland to gain from the Brexit deal. Financial services are well-positioned to be one of those industries and we have already seen some businesses capitalise on the Brexit opportunity. 

We look at answering some of the questions we have been receiving around the impact of a Brexit Deal here.

How does the recent Brexit deal affect the Financial Services market?

It is the question that is dominating our market at the minute, and if we had the answer, we would be in a very unique place. A no-deal Brexit may have favoured some very specific markets but overall for Ireland, it would have resulted in a significant negative impact. It would have brought a huge level of uncertainty going forward to how we will be able to conduct business with the UK market and made Irish products less desirable to UK customers.  

In the long term, we are optimistic that Brexit will benefit Ireland, as it brings in more companies looking to use Ireland as it’s passport into Europe. Inevitably this will create more jobs and a boost to the economy. Now, as the only native English-speaking country in the EU, Ireland is an increasingly attractive destination for businesses to establish. That being said, the problem lies in the short term. Firms will have to adapt and the market as a whole; labour, regulatory, infrastructure & distribution will have to evolve to accommodate these changing businesses. 

What roles do we expect Brexit to impact? 

The opportunity for Ireland primarily lies with its FS ecosystem and ability to attract US / UK firms looking to operate in the EU post Brexit. We have seen and expect this area to grow and have seen this trend develop over the past number of years. Key positions from a skill set perspective which are necessary for these businesses to establish will inevitably see an increase in demand.

The roles we see coming into Ireland sit most often within regulated FS entities. Key control functions such as Risk, Finance, Compliance, Audit, Legal, and Executive Director roles have been essential for any company looking to move its HQ to Dublin post-Brexit.

Another trend we are seeing is an increase in demand for ancillary services to these firms. Advisory & consulting, law practice, Banking, and technology businesses are well-positioned to benefit from Brexit firms establishing a presence in Ireland. We have seen a notable increase in both the demand for professional services firms and in turn an increase in their hiring to accommodate the delivery of those services. 

We believe that for Ireland to put itself in the best possible position to capitalise on this opportunity it will have to adapt to the changing of demand in skillset. What we see from our UK clients is a desire for professionals to have more technical knowledge in FS and an understanding of capital markets, derivatives, distribution, and the risk associated with those activities. 

One attribute we are seeing a lot of demand for is experience dealing with local regulators. The FCA and US regulatory bodies have a reputation for being more hands-off than some of their peers. The CBI’s reputation could be considered one of the more hands

We know that with Brexit, the demands on experienced technical professionals in Dublin will increase. The number one challenge of any of our FDI clients is always identifying and successfully hiring the right people with the right experience. We hear this again and again. The real added value for these clients is having a partner, on the ground locally who knows the industry and understands what talent they need to be successful. 

Thoughts and predictions for the market post-Brexit Deal?

The big upside of the Brexit deal is we now have some level of certainty. The deal perhaps did not go as far as it could have with aligning the interests of financial services firms but this may in fact benefit Ireland in the long run. For many UK based financial services firms marketing products across Europe, it means they will have to establish an operation in the EU and bring substance with them. 

This will undoubtedly bring more firms to Dublin, more interesting work, and increase demand for strong professionals seeking a move in the years to come. 

The question is does Dublin have the talent to supply these roles? We believe so. It will no doubt be stretched, but we believe the candidates are out there. Furthermore, Dublin remains a very top destination for businesses seeking to establish an EU presence with its existing very strong FS base and a vibrant workforce.  

If you’re interested in hearing more about the Financial Services market post Brexit or are interested in a new Financial Services opportunity, please reach out to Finlay at f.barry@masonalexander.ie.

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