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Magazine Issues » June 2022

Ireland roundtable: 'If only we could copyright the colour green'

Funds Europe – What is the single thing that has made Ireland more attractive in recent times and/or the single thing that it needs to do or its biggest challenge?

Creswell – I set my first business up in Ireland in 1992 when they were handing out special tax licences in the IFSC [International Financial Services Centre], so the thing that makes Ireland really attractive is there’s a complete infrastructure and a business-friendly environment. The rules are pretty clear and they’re generally quite well written. The whole transition to the ManCo structure has been good. We only made the transition to ManCo late last year; we had stuck with self-managed, but it’s actually been fine.

Everything works and everything’s heading the right way and there’s a really good environment. 

We don’t need another flash and a bang and another great invention. What we most need is not to overcook this cake. I know of organisations that chose not to come to Ireland in the last two-and-a-half years because of the uncertainty around what the substance tariff would be, how many jobs they would have to make, and those literally went to other European countries because those tariffs were less. That’s a shame because actually there’s more certainty under the Irish structure than in some other jurisdictions, there’s more business certainty and there’s more business robustness. 

I think our industry has more work to do; we have to engage through Irish Funds, through the various professions at a micro level for policymakers. It’s not just the Central Bank, it’s for policymakers to understand there are real costs to getting it wrong, there are real benefits to getting it right, and we need to find the middle ground and not mess it up.

McEvoy – We would have to point to the ILP and some of those additional rule clarifications that came around the same time. On a standalone basis, those changes really paved the way that we’re moving forward. 

We need stability and we need assurance. Ireland has always provided this, but I think we always need to continue to be mindful that our clients and any stakeholder to the industry needs comfort that there isn’t exposure to dramatic shift in terms of legal, regulatory and political environment as we continue to grow what is a very successful and high-employment industry.

Fox – The new ILP structure has been the single most important recent development which has made Ireland more attractive.

Also, being able to have an Irish fund structure that has access to digital asset exposure is a hugely positive development by the Central Bank and something which has a lot of potential to grow. Certainly, over the course of the last 12-18 months, we’ve seen a noticeable uptick in demand from our members and from institutional investors seeking exposure to that area as an asset class.

While we tend to focus on the things we need to do better, it is also important to acknowledge the positives. Assets in Irish-domiciled funds increased by 22.5% in 2021, we are the fastest growing of the five largest fund domiciles in Europe over recent years and more than 60% of all European ETF assets are located here. But there is no room for complacency. We have to stay laser-focused on making sure that Ireland remains the best place in Europe to do business for the fund and asset management industry, for setting up funds, for having clarity and transparency, for having a robust but a fair and engaged regulatory environment that provides solutions and positive outcomes for savers and investors.

Prew – Ireland has a strong track record in fintech generally and in five years, the industry will look quite different, not just because of funds investing in crypto directly or indirectly. If the Central Bank and others can embrace digitalisation more broadly and leverage the fintech strengths in Ireland, that provides real opportunity.

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