Brexit-fleeing firms should not expect favours from regulator – Minister

D’Arcy warns companies will not be able to ‘skip queue’ for authorisation after UK exit

Michael D’Arcy, Minister for Financial Services and Insurance and Jane Howard, CEO, Ulster Bank. Photograph:  Paul Sherwood

Michael D’Arcy, Minister for Financial Services and Insurance and Jane Howard, CEO, Ulster Bank. Photograph: Paul Sherwood

 

Financial firms fleeing Brexit cannot expect the Central Bank to do them any favours to fast-track approval to operate in Ireland, Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance Michael D’Arcy said.

The Mr D’Arcy was speaking after a Brexit-related conference in Dublin where the financial regulator warned overseas financial companies that it will not provide an “insurance policy” for inadequate planning for Brexit.

“We have been saying to people to come here immediately, start interaction with the Central Bank; don’t come late and expect favours, that’s not what they’re there for,” Mr D’Arcy told The Irish Times.

“They’re there to correctly analyse and authorise companies who want to trade here, so if you are coming late, it will go in the queue, there won’t be any queue-skipping.”

Companies face delays of 12-18 months waiting for approval or even longer in some cases, he said.

A large number of global financial players including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Citigroup and Barclays have chosen to establish or expand operations in Ireland in response to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Standards

Michael Hodson, the financial regulator’s director of asset management and investment banking supervision, told the conference that the Central Bank would not lower assessment standards to ensure that financial firms seeking approval to operate in the State are authorised by the end of March when the UK is due to quit the EU.

“We have no appetite for firms who have not done the work or for firms that have no real intention in setting up a substantial business in Ireland but rather just see their authorisation as a last resort for Brexit,” Mr Hodson told the Brexit seminar hosted by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce with Ulster Bank and KPMG in Dublin.

Mr D’Arcy said that with just 63 days until Brexit it was never too late for businesses to start getting ready for Brexit but “for some it will be too late if there is no deal”. He said he still expected a deal “at some point”.

He told the conference that no deal would be the “worst possible outcome” for the UK, Ireland and the EU, and the Government still viewed the divorce deal on the table as “the best possible way for an orderly exit”.

The Minister said he had asked a group, including the Central Bank and the State Claims Agency, to come up with proposals on “how we can protect consumers better” after a Department of Finance report found sharp practices by insurers led to victims of storms Ophelia and Emma receiving smaller payouts than they were owed.

“I am moving towards consumer protection structures that in our view aren’t strong enough in the industry,” he said of the planned work by the department’s Cost of Insurance Working Group.