Magazine Issues » February 2021

Association column: Ireland, 30 years on...

Pat_LardnerAt present there is understandably little being done in the way of celebration. In addition to family and friends, we are all sadly learning of industry peers and former colleagues who have suffered and succumbed to the virus. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha (May they rest in peace).

Amidst the sadness, it is also important to pause and consider positive milestones, not just to look back and reminisce but to also look forward with a sense of purpose and optimism. In February 1991, the Dublin Funds Industry Association was born – a new association in a nascent cross-border industry, not only in Ireland but also in Europe. As we cross the threshold of our 30th anniversary, its firstly worth saying a word of thanks to all those we have worked with over that time, both in Ireland and around the world. Today, as Irish Funds, we are the voice of the funds and asset management industry in Ireland and part of a European industry which we should all be proud of and that is a positive force for change. 

That sounds lofty, I know, but the European funds industry has been a notable, enduring and resilient success that is the result of decades of determined work by policymakers, regulators and industry participants alike. In Ireland, there are in excess of €3.2 trillion of investment fund assets domiciled here which are supporting savers across the EU and beyond, deploying much-needed capital and investment to economies and businesses. 

This is all part of a broader European industry that is responsible for in excess of €17 trillion in assets. As we know from our own experience, the elements that make the industry such a resilient and valuable contributor to economic activity have become clearer for others to see since early 2020. Given the needs prompted by both the current crisis and longer-term savings and investment gaps, our role will become more rather than less important.

The elements that have enabled us to support the growing and evolving needs of investors, providing them with investment solutions have not changed that much – it is still based on people (a mixture of skills, culture, and attitude), technology, being prepared to constantly evolve our operating environment and the tools we apply within it. More fundamentally, though, it is based on reputation. The reputation of the industry precedes it in everything it seeks to achieve and follows it in everything it has done. 

The manner in which we advocate, engage, develop capability and demonstrate leadership all mutually reinforce our reputation and how we are heard. We established a Brussels presence in 2019 to better represent our members and engage. The finalisation of a new and compelling regulated offering for private market investment strategies (via the Investment Limited Partnership) and the work we continue to do on skills will strengthen capability. 

Devoting significant time and a constructive approach towards important initiatives like the review of AIFMD and the implementation of the Sustainable Finance agenda reflect a leadership role which we share with many others across Europe and one we are happy to accept.

It may not be a time to celebrate, but equally we should be proud of what we have contributed to the broader European industry and redouble our efforts for the next 30 years.

By Pat Lardner, chief executive of Irish Funds

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