Minister changes tune on Central Bank’s Brexit approach

He had previously queried the regulator on ‘unhelpful attitude’

Central Bank of Ireland.

Central Bank of Ireland.

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Minister of State for financial services Michael D’Arcy has praised the Central Bank’s approach towards firms seeking to move activities to Ireland having previously queried the regulator on foot of industry feedback about its “unhelpful attitude”.

In the latest annual action plan under an objective of growing international financial services (IFS) jobs by 10,000 to 45,000 between 2015 and 2020, the minister said: “The Central Bank is committed to providing a high-quality, fair and transparent authorisation process for all applicants and it stands ready to engage with new applications seeking authorisation or existing firms seeking to extend their business.”

Mr D’Arcy last year began to investigate complaints from overseas financial firms about the regulator’s receptiveness to taking on additional work as a result of Brexit, telling the Central Bank in a letter that “concerns raised by them to me include inter alia: unclear processes; unnecessary delay; unhelpful attitudes; and unreasonable expectations”. The regulator has repeatedly dismissed such criticism.

However, the Minister said in the IFS2020 Action Plan for 2018, published on Tuesday on the eve of a European financial services conference in Dublin, that potential applicants will find the regulator in Ireland “to be engaged, efficient, open and rigorous”.

IDA Ireland chief executive Martin Shanahan said last week that 16 financial firms – including lenders Bank of America and JP Morgan, insurer Beazley, and investment firm Legal & General – have announced plans to move activities to the Republic following Brexit and is in talks with more than that number again about securing further investment. However, many commentators have expressed frustration that Dublin is trailing locations like Frankfurt and Paris in terms of attracting large-scale front-office activities.

The latest IFS2020 action plan has this year prioritised progressing investment limited partnership legislation to allow Ireland become a global location for private equity funds management; marketing regional locations to overseas financial firms; and developing green and sustainable finance opportunities.

The plan also contains a number of measures aimed at making Ireland more attractive for financial technology (FinTech) companies, including a dedicated €500,000 Enterprise Ireland fund for investing in 10 start-ups in the fourth quarter of this year. Enterprise Ireland also plans to conclude a FinTech “census” to provide a fact base on the scope, scale and strategic positioning of the sector in by the end of June.

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