September 2011

ASSOCIATION COLUMN: ‘The door is open’

Angela-Madden

"Just knock on my door, it is always open," was the message Irish prime minister Enda Kenny gave to the Irish funds industry when he addressed the Irish Funds Industry Association's annual conference recently.

He made his commitment to the sector crystal clear and the fact that the IFIA conference was the first time he spoke directly with the financial sector since he was elected was in itself testament to the regard he and the new government has for the funds industry.

Kenny seized the opportunity “to congratulate those in the funds industry for their achievements and ongoing growth – growth which is helping the recovery of the Irish economy”.

Demonstrating his desire to further improve Ireland’s position as a leading funds domicile he stated: “We will ensure that the environment for investment funds continues to offer significant opportunity. This potential will be achieved as Ireland continues to provide solutions and opportunities to the international funds industry.” He revealed that the promotion and support of international financial services was “a central part of the recovery strategy of this government” and that he would do what he could to further increase Ireland’s attractiveness as a leading funds domicile.

“In order to maintain Ireland as a leading international fund jurisdiction, a specific legislative framework and developments in the tax and regulatory environments are areas for consideration.”

He is proving true to his word and has already hosted meetings with members from the industry to see what government can to do to assist the Irish funds industry – this increasingly crucial cornerstone for Irish economic recovery.

In 2010 funds under administration grew from e1.4trn to almost e1.9trn – a 29% increase.Within that the net asset value of Ucits grew by 27% and QIF assets by 35%.In the process some 450 new jobs were created and the number of new jobs by the end of 2011 looks set to near the 1,000 mark.

The Irish funds industry is a good news story.

What makes it an even more attractive story is the fact it is separate from the country’s domestic considerations making it a resilient industry for government to support and nurture in the important years ahead.

In fact, if anything, Ireland’s domestic considerations are supporting  the funds industry, where falling rents and labour availability have made the jurisdiction more competitive. According to figures from the EU Commission Forecast, 2010 Irish unit wage costs will improve 13% versus the EU average in the period from 2008 to 2012.

Ireland is also well placed to take advantage of regulatory evolution, always at the forefront of implementing legislation. Ireland – the fastest growing of the major Ucits domiciles – is one of few jurisdictions which transposed Ucits IV into legislation for the July 1 deadline.

Then, on the alternative side, the QIF is considered AIFMD (Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive) compliant. While a flexible product, the QIF is regulated by an EU member state regulator and is required to have an independent depository.

Today Ireland has 63% of the regulated hedge funds market and, by all accounts, with the jurisdiction’s level of expertise that figure could well soar further.

Ireland’s excellence, innovation and international reach are and have always been second to none. It boasts unrivalled expertise and experience in the establishment and servicing of funds with the widest range of investment strategies with a can-do attitude.

The jurisdiction has always prided itself on being at the forefront of thought leadership and innovation, devising product solutions through responsiveness and adaptability to client needs and leading on investment fund processing standardisation.

Its international reach is impressive – more than 850 fund promoters from over 50 countries have chosen Ireland as their international hub. Irish fund administrators service assets from almost 170 countries and offer support capabilities in 28 languages and 23 currencies, according to the findings of an IFIA Transfer Agency Survey.

And, now with the hands-on support of government and the encouragement of the Irish prime minister himself, the Irish funds industry has never been better placed for expansion.

• Angela Madden is communications manager at the Irish Funds Industry Association

©2011 funds europe