Picture: Patrick O’Brien, Global Head of Funds, Intertrust.
Patrick O’Brien, Global Head of Funds at Intertrust, reflects on the development and maturity of the financial sector in Ireland, and how Ireland has grown as a destination of choice for creating global roles.
Ranked by Forbes as the eleventh best country in the world for business, Ireland is a country that has developed a track record as a successful location for world-leading established and high growth multinational companies from around the world. Indeed, while the rank of ‘eleventh’ may not immediately ring as outstanding, when one considers the socio-economic and demographic changes that the country has experienced in its recent history, the progress that underpins this position is evident.
Today Ireland is home to the world’s top five software companies, all ten of the top pharma companies and nearly eighty percent of the top global financial services firms. Global businesses can benefit from a country with good business conditions, positive taxation in areas such as corporate and R&D, which is English speaking, and has a good reputation and a skilled workforce. It’s also a vibrant and open society that encourages diversity, and benefits from a stable political environment.
Building over the years
Ireland’s success has not been achieved overnight; rather it’s a timeline that began several decades ago marked by key events. For example, in the 1970s the foundation of Guinness Peat Aviation helped Ireland to become a key early player in global aircraft leasing. In the 1980s the focus on the IFSC and growth of FDI in the 1990s were transformative. Carry forward to the 21st century and Ireland’s popularity as a destination for financial services and technology, despite the downturn, has driven the countries standing as a destination for international businesses.
Intertrust in Ireland is an excellent example of Ireland’s success and in 2019 the company celebrated ten years in the market having been established in 2009 to provide corporate services to FDI clients and the air craft leasing industry. The Irish office was established by one person, Imelda Shine, in 2009. After 15 years working in financial services in New York, she returned to Ireland and has built a diverse team and the Irish business has grown to over 100 employees today. The business announced the launch of its fund administration business in Ireland last year, recognition of the growth of the Irish office and also the faith of Intertrust as a global financial services provider in Ireland.
A pro-business environment
While it’s important to recognise the success of Ireland to date, it’s critical we understand what global organisations are looking for when locating senior business leaders and teams to drive future success. Remote work and ease of travel allows businesses to focus on hiring and retaining the right person for the job rather than be tied to the candidate pool in a particular area. This means day-to-day environmental factors such as compensation packages, family life and lifestyle as well as personal taxation, housing, schools etc. are important considerations for any employee and broader environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors are key considerations for employers looking to make strategic decisions.
Ireland has a great opportunity to continue as a strong destination for business. Central to this will be the role of Government, and I would hope we continue to see enhanced engagement between industry and the state that drives growth nationally, and not just in Dublin. The Irish Funds industry is an excellent case in point. The sector provides direct employment for over 16,000 people around Ireland and contributes €837 million in direct taxes to the Irish state. In order to further enhance this, the industry requires the Government to progress the Investment Limited Partnership (ILP) Bill as a priority, making it easier for private equity investors to invest in funds thus generating growth that benefits communities across Ireland.
It’s important to consider that countries face both direct and indirect challenges when remaining a destination for FDI and senior leadership teams. Competition for investment from other jurisdictions combined with external socio-economic factors such as Brexit and global trade wars to name a few. With regard to ESG, one particular area that is growing in prominence is the issue of climate change and sustainability, and essentially how corporates meet their business and societal responsibilities. An attractive place to locate and do business is fine, however corporates need to find a balance between fixed locations and mobility that ensures they are conducting business in an environmentally sustainable manner. We are seeing technology change the way we do business in promoting agile working and collaboration, however face-to-face engagement will remain an important part of doing business, a key challenge for any senior leader.
While my role is global, I am primarily based in Ireland and can attest to the benefits of not only being located here but also having access to the expertise of our Irish office that guide Intertrust global strategy. This type of cohesion is only possible if industry and Government continue to collaborate to make Ireland a destination of choice, but while there will be future uncertainties I believe that we have every reason to be confident as a location for global organisations.