Cork is emerging as a centre of excellence in the Financial Services market, and a new strategy is set to ensure that happens by 2025...
Building Cork as a Centre of Financial Services Excellence “Ireland for Finance” is the newly launched strategy for the further development of the international financial services (IFS) sector in Ireland to 2025. Its vision is for Ireland to be a top-tier global location of choice for specialist international financial services.
Ireland for Finance builds upon the success of "IFS2020", the previous IFS five-year strategy for the development of the international financial services sector launched in 2015. The employment target for the new Strategy is to reach 50,000 people in direct employment in the sector by 2025. This compares with 44,000 people directly employed in the sector at the end of 2018.
The Strategy is structured around the following four pillars:
1. The operating environment pillar is focused on ensuring the policy, culture and legislative conditions.
2. The technology and innovation pillar is focused on providing a collaborative approach to addressing emerging challenges and opportunities in technological developments.
3. The talent pillar seeks to ensure that we continue to have skilled people to meet the demands of the IFS sector, including meeting new and changing skills.
4. The communications and promotion pillar is focused on ensuring that Ireland’s IFS offering is communicated to all those who are or may be attracted to investing in Ireland.
Three horizontal priorities will apply across the four pillars - regionalisation, sustainable finance and diversity.
Regionalisation (establishing a presence outside Dublin) results in reduced costs for IFS companies and better staff retention. It can also enable businesses to draw on regional labour pools and well-renowned third level institutions.
Cork has been actively positioning itself as an alternative to Dublin for Financial Services companies with support by the Cork business community and entities such as the Chamber Of Commerce and Connecting Cork. The promotion and “branding” of Cork has ensured an awareness of the existing “hubs” ( Funds, Payments, Back office Administration, Compliance and Risk), it highlights the ability to attract and retain talent, the various career pathways for FS professionals and the work / life balance Cork has to offer making it an attractive alternative to Dublin.
Financial services globally has undergone dramatic change in the last five years largely driven by regulation. The next five years financial services will not just change but be dramatically disrupted by technology driven innovation.
For Ireland and Cork, which are now well-established global financial services centres, the change will be significant and will impact employment and the nature of work profoundly.
The rate of innovation is increasingly exponential, driven by technologies such as:
These technologies offer new ways to do things; new customer experiences, replacement of many manual activities and roles, more efficient operations and new business models. To enable and develop this requires very different skills and expertise. We believe the extent to which Ireland’s financial services sector benefits is largely due to the level of investment companies make in innovation and the extent that government policy encourages the development of talent and people to drive this innovation.
Cork as a tier-1 connectivity location with over 150 companies operating in a strong clusters of IFS companies supported by 35,000 third level students, an airport with 50 destinations serviced and a world-class IFS research function is well placed to tackle these challenges and avail of the regionalisation strategy announced by government.
It has long been recognised that the education levels of the Irish workforce, coupled with the availability of skilled and experienced staff, has been a crucial factor in Ireland’s inward investment package. So, with over 35,000 third level students in UCC and CIT and the continued collaboration between Industry and these colleges ensures a strong pool of talent. A number of new initiatives and programmes launched in recent years are supporting the talent pool even further.
In Skillnets, a state-funded, enterprise-led support body, launched its Finuas 2020 Strategy which was aligned to IFS2020 and designed to develop new programmes for emerging areas including FinTech, and to extend existing provision in data analytics, alternative investments and IFS risk and compliance. Since 2015, over €5m has been invested in Finuas training by Skillnets and IFS member companies with an average of 500 IFS companies and 2,000 trainees participating in a range of programmes per annum.
Cork, described by Esquire Magazine as “Ireland’s second city is Europe’s best-kept culinary secret” offers a pro-business environment and many indigenous progressive Irish companies successfully work in productive partnership with thousands of international companies who have put down roots in Ireland. Global giants and the next generation of high growth companies find Cork a business-enabled environment that provides the perfect strategic base for their European operations and, in some case, their operations at a more global level, EMEA and world-wide.
Cork has an opportunity to continue to grow its Financial Services community and with continued government, local authority and business community support will leverage its reputation as Ireland’s second city. As the landscape of the city evolves and changes, the available office space needs to be matched with accommodation availability, Cork needs to aggressively brand itself as a location of choice and Morgan McKinley will play its part by promoting and attracting the very best talent to meet current and future demands.