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“The number of new Irish Fintechs emerging is continuing to evolve at a pace of knots!” – Q&A with Ian Nelson, Head of Financial Services & Regulatory, KPMG Ireland

By Business & Finance
03 August 2023
Pictured: Ian Nelson, Partner, Head of Financial Services & Regulatory, KPMG in Ireland.

Ian Nelson is Partner and Head of Financial Services & Regulatory at KPMG in Ireland. Business & Finance asked him about the current Financial Services landscape in Ireland.

The 2023 Financial Services Awards, in association with KPMG, are open for entries to recognise Ireland’s top financial services leaders. The event will take place on Thursday, 26th October 2023, at the Round Room, Mansion House, Dublin. Finalists for the FS Awards are chosen by a judging panel of independent industry experts. To submit an entry, please visit HERE.

How and why is the financial services sector so important to the Irish economy? 

The financial services sector is massively important to the Irish economy for a number of reasons, but if I have to choose three, I would reference the following:

  • Firstly, the direct impact on employment itself within Ireland. The level of people involved in the financial services sector itself is hugely important to our economy in direct terms. Ireland has over forty years of experience with dealing with global financial institutions from international banks to investment managers and insurers to aircraft leasing operators and administrators. Jobs in this sector have grown 25% since 2015 and we have almost 50,000 people employed in the industry.
  • Secondly, I would reference the importance of what it means for ‘brand Ireland’ internationally. Being a small country at the west of Europe, it is important that we continue to have a real demonstration of ‘brand Ireland’ at an international level and financial services is one of the areas in which we are absolutely recognised as punching above our weight, and that has been the case for at least the last forty years. If you look at some of the shining examples from an Irish perspective and take aviation leasing as one in particular, we are by far the global leaders in relation to that sector, it is one of many that could be referenced where we are really influential on the international stage, which has a fantastic enabler for our economy more broadly.
  • Thirdly, I would reference the impact on society and public life itself in Ireland more broadly. Firstly, to be in the middle of a flourishing sector where Irish consumers are feeling the direct impacts of being at the vanguard of developing financial services and products, but also our ability to attract a wide range of international people which has a very enriching influence on our society as a whole.

What can we do to ensure our reputation as one of the top financial services centres in the world continues to grow? 

There are a number of initiatives that are underway that are extremely helpful in ensuring that our reputation as one of the top financial services centres in the world is maintained. In the first instance I would reference the trust that is placed in financial services in Ireland. We have what is sometimes viewed as a relatively comprehensive regulatory agenda, but with that comes a significant level of trust in the quality of the financial services delivery from an Irish perspective and that is really important in maintaining our reputation globally. We also have an opportunity to continue to market financial services in a holistic way that would allow a more consolidated view of Irish based financial services internationally to be better understood. One area in which this could be furthered, as an example, is the development of appropriate sandboxing and Fintech hubs that may allow for Ireland to continue to build on its reputation as a financial services centre of excellence.

What are some of the new and exciting areas in FS that we should learn more about? 

There are a number of locations and in addition to Dublin we have got really thriving financial services in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Kilkenny, Waterford and Letterkenny as some examples as some great opportunities that give investors an excellent choice of potential sites. We have a huge amount of broad industry activity which varies from the deposit taking and lending, all the way into the tech support, software development, cyber security. More and more, we have emerging opportunities particularly in the Fintech space where we see increased activity in relation to software engineering, AI, blockchain and RPA. We have huge amount of Government supporting industry with key stakeholders in the state that are appointed in that regard and that has been key to some of the success stories that we have seen from an Irish perspective.

I have a slide which captures a range of the Fintech’s in Ireland and one thing I am absolutely sure of, is that each time I produce it, it is out of date because the number of new Fintech’s emerging is continuing to evolve at a pace of knots! So the areas of AI, embedded finance, shadow banking and other forms of technology driven financial services offerings, as we have seen so successfully developed in some of our international Fintech community in particular, are extremely interesting from a financial services perspective. This can be in the form of stand-alone services end to end for the customer, or as adjacent support for existing and more traditional financial services players the Fintech/Regtech arenas, are both extremely interesting from a financial services perspective.

Is there more policy makers can do to further progress this sector? 

It is important that we strike an appropriate balance between a trusted regulatory environment and allowing for the thriving and the development of financial services sector. Having an approach whereby there continues to be international business and investor confidence in Ireland as a domicile for financial services, and yet an open place to do business will continue to be important. In that regard a sandbox environment for new start-ups with the regulator and other forms of fluid regulatory engagement are viewed as important. And also the maintenance of appropriately joined up policy across the policy making suite including tax and other forms of financial incentive will continue to be important.

Nelson has responsibility for the Financial Services markets including Banking and Capital Markets, Asset Management & Private Equity, Aviation and Insurance. Ian also works directly with a number of the new entrants into the Irish Financial Services sector such as Fin-Techs and is a FPAI Council Member.

Finalists for the FS Awards are chosen by a judging panel of independent industry experts. To submit an entry, please visit HERE.

For partnership opportunities please contact Brian Kearns at . Visit here for further information on nominations


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