Pictured: The winners at the Business & Finance FS Awards 2022 at the Mansion House Dublin. Picture by Andres Poveda.
The FS Awards took place on 27th October, in the Round Room of The Mansion House, Dublin.
The FS Awards had 12 diverse categories that recognised the brightest minds of the Financial Services sector.
Tracey Carney, Managing Director of Business & Finance, part of the Catalyst Media Group, and Sarah Freeman, Managing Editor of Business & Finance, spoke to attendees in an opening address.
“We originally began this Awards journey back in 2019 and together have worked closely in establishing this programme to recognise and reward excellence in the industry,” Carney said.
She continued: “As you can imagine, the calibre of entries was extremely high and I’d like to thank the companies for taking the time to engage with our awards process and the detail you included within your submissions – you’ve made our judging panel’s job very difficult.”
The Diversity, Equality & Inclusion award, which recognises a company’s contribution and impact in promoting and improving diversity, equality & inclusion within the Financial Services Sector, went to Liberty Insurance. Andrew Murphy, Co-Founder and Director of Coopman Search and Selection, announced the winner.
“Liberty Insurance are leading the way with diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace with their dedicated council which is employee-led and works across four key focus areas: LGBTQ+, Gender, Cultural Dexterity, and Disability. Not only do they work within their own corporate structure, they engage their initiatives through outreach and charitable events across Ireland,” Carney noted.
The Sustainable Finance Award went to Aviva. Peter Stapleton, Managing Partner of Maples Group, announced the winner.
Freeman outlined the judging panel’s rationale for this choice: “Our judging panel said Aviva have embedded sustainability in the core of their company by diversifying and moving away from fossil fuels. They continuously introduce sustainable initiatives while also engaging and educating their employees, suppliers, partners and passengers to be part of the solution.”
The Customer Experience award was presented to Bank of Ireland by Maeve McConnon, Senior Vice President, International Financial Services Division at IDA Ireland.
“Our judging panel said that Bank of Ireland had successfully disrupted the traditional model of pen and paper in favour of embracing up to date technology. Their Digital Advice Platform puts customers in control of their own banking with a streamlined integrated end-to-end digital proposition. It takes the best of the traditional approach and marries it with a truly hybrid omni channel digital model,” Carney said.
The next award of the afternoon was Compliance & Reg Tech Award, presented by Sia Partners. Corlytics won the award for enabling companies to digitalise and transition from manual to automation with much greater ease. “Their platform has successfully reduced the digital transformation timeline by up to a working year in some cases and allows companies to easily manage their regulatory obligations,” Freeman noted.
Owen Buckley, Head of Corporate Partnership at UNICEF, presented Payments Innovation Award to Revolut. “Our judges said that you know a company has made it when their name becomes a verb,” Carney said after the win.
She continued: “The Revolut core strategy has always been to deliver continual and constant innovation through their app. They have technology at their core and strive to develop new and intuitive products and features quickly and effectively, thereby staying ahead of more traditional financial competitors.”
The FS Challenger Award, which recognises a new entrant to the market who is challenging the way we do business and introducing new achievements among customers using IFS solutions, in order to gain a competitive advantage or create value through innovation. The recipient was Strikepay, and the award was presented by Louise Phelan, a member of the FS Awards judging panel.
“Our judges said that Strikepay saw an opportunity to meet customer needs, 6,000 of them, with on opportunity to serve 60m in the next 24 months. They have provided a solution to customers that want to Tip and Donate with ease without having cash in their pocket,” noted Freeman.
The Innovative Banking Product Award was presented to Permanent TSB by David Monaghan, Deputy Editor of Business & Finance.
“Our judges felt that Permanent TSB’s move to a digital customer onboarding model was successfully executed and resulted in a much more efficient and customer friendly process. This new paperless journey takes up to 3 minutes instead of a previous 45 minutes and has allowed the bank to onboard huge volumes at the same time through the mobile app.”
The next award of the day was the Fintech Innovation Award, sponsored by Dublin Tech Summit. Global Shares won the award for “pushing the boundaries on innovation,” Freeman said, “and [taking] the bold decision to pivot from services to develop a global fintech software solution. It is this level of innovation that has made Global Shares deserved winners in this very competitive category.”
Patricia Callan, Head of Sectors, and Director, Financial Services Ireland Group, Ibec, announced the winner of the International Finance Award, which was Vertex.
“Our judges said Vertex has created a strong solution to simplify cross-border trade by navigating through the increasingly complex international tax landscapes using their end-to-end indirect tax software,” said Carney. “Vertex products both enable and empower businesses to seamlessly trade without barriers and supports everything from customer location identification and indirect tax calculation, to invoicing and reporting, helping ecommerce businesses make seamless online sales in multiple countries and currencies.”
The Specialist Lender award went to CapitalFlow. “Our judges said CapitalFlow has demonstrated that innovation has always been focused on their customer’s needs which has resulted in simplifying access to finance for customers and partners through front-end self-service portals and back-end supporting systems,” Freeman said. “Through the perfect blend of digital and personal touch, CapitalFlow has maintained a competitive edge in providing funding to SMEs across a variety of products – Asset Finance, Commercial Property, and Invoice Finance.”
The final award of the day was the Grand Prix Award, sponsored by KPMG. This award goes to the company, project or initiative that received the highest average mark from the FS Awards judging panel. Ian Nelson, Head of Financial Services at KPMG, announced that Liberty Insurance was the winner of this special commendation.
Outstanding Contribution to Financial Services Award
Michael Noonan was named as recipient of the Pádraig Ó hUiginn Outstanding Contribution to Financial Services Award at the inaugural Business & Finance FS Awards.
Pádraig Ó hUiginn
Senior Civil servant and businessman, Padraig Ó hUiginn, had a fifty-year career in the Civil Service before retiring in 1993 – and moving into the private sector.
He entered the civil service in 1941 and served for over fifty years where he was innovative in his endeavours to progress social and economical change and to capture and utilise opportunities for the benefit of all. His name is synonymous with high profile projects such as the IFSC, Temple Bar, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), but he is perhaps best remembered for his role as secretary general of the Department of The Taoiseach, a position he held from 1982-1993.
In addition to his secretary general role, Ó hUiginn also served as economic affairs officer, UN Economic Commission in Geneva; was officer-in-charge of Housing, Planning and Building at the UN Headquarters in New York; and was director for Regional Policy and deputy director general for Energy, Science and Technology at the EC Council of Ministers in Brussels.
“Some would say 3 Taoisigh served under Pádraic Ó hUigín.”
After he left the civil service he experienced success in the private sector, most notably through his involvement as a director of Denis O’Brien’s Esat Telecom, which was taken over by British Telecom in 2000. He died in 2019 aged 94 years.
Introducing the award, Ian Hyland, President of Business & Finance Media Group, noted: “Along with Ken Whitaker, Pádraig Ó hUigín was quite simply one of our most impactful civil servants in Irish history. In a career spanning five decades, serving the Department of Local Government, the United Nations in Geneva and New York, and ultimately as Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach from 1982 until his retirement. Serving under 3 Taoisigh. Or some would say 3 Taoisigh served under Pádraig Ó hUigín.”
Former Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, was presented the Pádraig Ó hUiginn Outstanding Contribution to Financial Services Award. He was first elected to the Dail in 1981 and has held a number of senior cabinet positions including leader of Fine Gael between February 2001 and May 2002. He represented the constituency of Limerick City.
The Fine Gael politician became Minister for Finance in 2011 and was re-appointed on 6 May 2014 before finally stepping down in 2017. Credited as one of Europe’s most experienced finance ministers, he oversaw Ireland’s financial crisis and subsequent recovery. It was he who implemented the post-crisis austerity measures as stipulated by the EU and the International Monetary Fund. Ireland’s economy recovered to become the fastest-growing economy in the eurozone for a number of years.
He was Minister for Justice between 1982 and1986 and held two different ministerial posts between 1986 and 1987, that of Minister for Industry, Commerce and Trade and Minister for Energy respectively. He was Minister for Health between 1994 and 1997, and has also served as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
Séamus Hand, Managing Partner of KPMG, welcomed former Finance Minister Noonan to the stage.
“I am honoured and humbled by receiving this award here today,” Noonan noted.
He continued: “Pádraig Ó hUigín was a great civil servant and a great Irish man […] I think our civil service has been patriotic, excellent and competent and I’d like to acknowledge and appreciate very much their service to the country. Those that are supporting the civil or public service have had difficult times. In 2008 with the financial collapse, and then Brexit and then COVID and now the war in the Ukraine. From an administrative point of view and from a management point of view, from a political leadership point of view and from a civil service point of view, they have gone from crisis management to crisis management.”
Noonan then spoke about Europe’s future: “Any analysis of the prosperity of Europe over the last 30-40 years ran on 3 elements. First of all: cheap energy from Russia. Secondly: a gigantic stampeding Chinese economy, and thirdly: the security blanket which the United States through NATO threw over Europe. […] No matter what happens in the Ukraine, there will be no cheap energy coming from Russia. No matter happens in Europe, we need to reset the relationship with China. And China is such a dominant proportion of world GDP that it’s very important that China continues to fuel economic good in different parts of the world. And at present that’s not a given.
“I don’t think we can rely on the United States anymore to be ready to fight Europe’s battles for it. I think that Europe will have to pick up a lot more of the world and our security than it has done in the past.”
“Finally, I don’t think we can rely on the United States anymore to be ready to fight Europe’s battles for it. I think that Europe will have to pick up a lot more of the world and our security than it has done in the past. That leaves the European community in a position where it’s going to have to reset its relationships in many different significant ways. It obviously has to look for new sources of energy and alternative sources of energy that merges with the green agenda and climate change issues. Europe badly needs a reset in the relationship with China because it’s such a dominant force in the world, the prosperity in Europe, while not totally dependent on it, is pretty dependant on the success of the Chinese economy.
“In security, you can see how NATO is expanding, and you can see other initiatives are rising all the time. If you look at the pipelines we have under the sea, and if you look at the cables we have under the sea, if you look at the issues of that in contention. These have to be protected as well. That’s the same in every country in Europe more so than Ireland. This has to be addressed. When we talk about the security of Europe and the defence of Europe, it’s no longer simply armies in Ukraine, it’s our infrastructure.
“It’s our debt limitation and all these things have to be addressed as well. It’s fairly clear now that arriving at a solution to these problems, there’s a going to be a transfer of functions from the sovereign governments of the member states to Europe. I think that’s gonna happen. Because I think the answers to the problem are collective rather than singular. And I think that has to be addressed. The excellence of the civil service is going to be vitally important. Because while politicians can lay the groundwork over the years on policy formations, we’ve been helped by our civil servants.”