UK investment firm Smith & Williamson has said it is “well-advanced” in an application to set up an Irish-regulated unit to protect its financial services business in the Republic in the event of a hard Brexit.
"Our application process is well under way and we are working closely with the central bank of Ireland to ensure our investment management services can continue uninterrupted," Smith & Williamson said in a statement to The Irish Times in response to questions on its preparedness.
“Although Smith & Williamson is largely a UK-based business, Ireland is an important market for us. As the regulatory environment continues to evolve apace, we will provide further details of our future plans as soon as is appropriate.”
It is understood that Smith & Williamson, which is offers accountancy services, private client investment management and fund administration, has applied to the Central Bank to set up an Irish subsidiary regulated under the so-called Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II) to ensure its investment management services business can operate seamlessly in Ireland post-Brexit.
The company had about €550 million of assets under management for clients in Ireland in the middle of last year in a business that is currently run as a branch of the UK parent group.
IDA Ireland has said that about half of the 100-plus Brexit-related applications that have been submitted to the Central Bank are from firms looking for authorisation for investment management services.
Smith & Williamson’s Irish operations almost doubled its workforce in Ireland to 135 people late last year as it merged with Dublin-based accountancy firm LHM Casey McGrath.
The British group pushed into Ireland in 2008, when it merged with Oliver Freaney & Company, a Dublin-based firm of accountants, tax and business advisers. It subsequently went on to head hunt a number of staff from Irish brokers – including Cedric Callaghan Cruise and Frank Brennan from Goodbody Stockbrokers and David Morrissey from Davy – to build up its investment management business.
The wider Smith & Williamson group employs about 1,700 people and counts as one of the largest independently owned investment managers and the eighth-largest accounting firm in the UK.