IFSC can double its workforce, claims Citigroup chief

Targeting new activities could take total employees to 70,000, conference told

Aidan Brady, chief executive of  Citigroup Europe ,  said 35,698 people were employed in the IFSC at the end of 2012.  Ireland should be looking to increase this to at least 50,000 in the coming years but  the number could double if the right focus and resources were applied to the task. Photograph: David Sleator

Aidan Brady, chief executive of Citigroup Europe , said 35,698 people were employed in the IFSC at the end of 2012. Ireland should be looking to increase this to at least 50,000 in the coming years but the number could double if the right focus and resources were applied to the task. Photograph: David Sleator

 

Employment at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) could double to about 70,000 in the coming years by aggressively targeting new areas of activity, Aidan Brady, chief executive of Dublin-based Citigroup Europe plc, told a conference yesterday.

Mr Brady noted that 35,698 people were employed in the IFSC at the end of 2012. He said Ireland should be looking to increase this to at least 50,000 in the coming years but that the number could double if the right focus and resources were applied to the task.

Addressing an event in Dublin hosted by the Federation of International Banks in Ireland, Mr Brady said the IFSC should look to establish itself as a digital banking hub and a centre of excellence for operational risk and governance.

He added that there are also niche opportunities to be pursued, where employment levels would be less than 1,000 each, including mortgage servicing, loan servicing, finance activities associated with the “green” economy and Islamic finance.

But he said there was “big potential” from digital banking. “I reckon that we could create 5,000 to 10,000 new jobs very quickly,” he said.

Citigroup has created 400 technology-related jobs here developing electronic banking products for corporate clients for use on mobile and tablet devices. These are now being used in 90 countries with billions of transactions being conducted each day. He noted how 85 per cent of consumer banking transactions are still paper-based, “something that will change dramatically in the coming years”.


‘Digital aspirations’
He said Dublin was to the “forefront” of Citigroup’s “digital aspirations”. The group spends about $8 billion a year globally on technology and employs 50,000 in this area. “We’re only touching on the surface of the opportunity,” he said.

On operational risk and governance, Mr Brady said there are potentially significant “employment opportunities”.

These would revolve around the establishment of shared services centres to deal with issues such as countering money laundering, fraud management and governance expertise.

Ireland could also become a location for non-EU banks to establish headquarters for their legal vehicles, and Ireland could also become a location for big data analytics.

Success story
Citigroup is one of the IFSC’s biggest success stories, employing 2,500 staff. Mr Brady outlined its evolution away from being a cost centre to being a profit centre for the US bank.

While praising the Republic’s 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate, Mr Brady said personal income taxes were “unfortunately too high”.

He said Ireland also needs to be more focused in marketing the IFSC. “I just have a sense that we don’t have our act together on that.”

Neil Ryan, assistant secretary general of the Department of Finance, said there was a need to re-evaluate how the IFSC was promoted by Government and the private sector. This had prompted a review of how the Clearing House Group works.

He said its operation was being streamlined and called for more sharing of information so that Ireland could capture the opportunities that exist for jobs growth.