Urgent need to discuss the future of banking, says union

Fears raised that regulator may get distracted from monitoring system

The need to monitor international financial services companies based in the State could distract the Central Bank from ensuring the domestic banking system is appropriately regulated, it has been claimed.

Publishing a new discussion paper, the Financial Services Union (FSU) said that with the Republic effectively serving as Europe's leading hedge fund domicile there is a danger the financial regulator could take its eye off ensuring the banking system is fit-for-purpose.

The union’s paper argues that a debate on the future of banking is required and that the State lags other nations in having such a discussion.

"The banking sector in Ireland is in turmoil, with redundancies and branch closures announced by a number of banks in recent months. The decision by NatWest, parent company of Ulster Bank, to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland, and Bank of Ireland's announcement to close 103 branches across the island of Ireland, and the challenges in responding to these, highlights the importance of discussing this crucial sector, and how we can best plan for its future," said FSU general secretary, John O'Connell.


Lack of trust

Among the issues discussed in the paper are the lack of public trust in the banking system; the opportunities and challenges arising from the use of Artificial Intelligence, financial exclusion, SME lending, whistle-blower protection and culture and ethics.

“There have been too many reactive responses to banking issues over the years. The experiences of the past, the pace of change in the sector, and the need to ensure the provision of services that facilitate access, opportunity, and security for people, as well as investment in the economy, make it essential that these issues are discussed in a structured, considered and pro-active way,” said Mr O’Connell.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist