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The Government publishes its plan for Ireland's financial services sector, 'IFS 2020', outlining 30 actions to encourage "at least 10,000 net new jobs" in the sector Back
Government Strategy Document. The plan provides a very detailed strategy report on how progress can be achieved under 30 different action headings, among them the revolutionary concept of introducing tangible targets for operational efficiencies in terms of the processing of regulatory transactions and authorisations by the Central Bank. "During the most difficult economic periods, employment in the IFS sector has demonstrated considerable resilience, thanks to Ireland's very distinctive strengths including the availability of highly - skilled talent, a culture of innovation, tax competitiveness and a strong client focus", the white paper says.
The strategy report upgrades the job targets to "at least 10,000 net new jobs" for the sector, and says that the 30 actions identified in the Report will be added to on an annual basis.

"We have identified 30 Actions to be implemented immediately, and we will continue to add to these on an annual basis to ensure we are responsive to new trends and emerging opportunities. We expect that this sustained focus will result in the creation of at least 10,000 net new jobs in the international financial services sector by the year 2020."
Speaking at the launch of the Government's IFS strategy today, (R-L) The Tanaiste, Joan Burton, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and Minister of State for International Banking (including IFSC), Simon Harris.

A new Government mission statement for IFS is contained in the Report, as follows:
"Our vision is for Ireland to be the recognised global location of choice for specialist international financial services, building on our strengths in talent, technology, innovation and excellent client service, while focussing on capturing new opportunities in a changing marketplace and embracing the highest standards of governance".

Elaborating, the report says "The Vision evokes a thriving IFS sector that is sustainably growing its contribution to the Irish economy in terms of employment, taxation and exports, through the increasing global competitiveness of innovative Irish-owned companies and leading foreign-owned companies that are successfully leveraging the benefits of Ireland’s business and innovation ecosystem, regulatory environment and its adaptable, highly-skilled workforce.

"The Vision - quite intentionally - has a long-term horizon, and the aspiration to establish Ireland as one of the best IFS locations in the world is one that should endure well beyond the five - year lifespan of this IFS2020 Strategy. The purpose of this Strategy document, therefore, is to begin an iterative process of defining the goals, actions
and measures required over the five-year period to 2020."

Regulation: Operational Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness
In the area of financial regulation, the report commits the Government and the Central Bank of Ireland to the achievement of regulatory metrics which will see tangible targets set for operational efficiencies in terms of the processing of regulatory transactions and authorisations.

This is a revolutionary principle, and will represent a first in the 30 year history of the IFSC.

On this the report says: "Operational efficiency and cost effectiveness is one of the CBI’s High Level goals. As part of this, the CBI has initiated a programme of process re-engineering and automation designed to improve key supervisory processes.

"This is a multi-year programme of work which includes, inter alia:
* the creation of a centralised function for the processing of regulatory transactions
* the delivery of a re-engineered and paperless process for funds and retail intermediary authorisation applications;
* the creation of Contact Management Operating Model for handling authorisation and supervisory queries;
* the introduction of services standards for the processing of applications for authorisations;
* the regular publication of delivery timelines versus these standards."

Stakeholder engagement and consultation
"The CBI is committed to having clear, open and transparent engagement with stakeholders in fulfilling its financial regulation and supervisory objectives and, in particular, when introducing new codes, regulations, standards or guidelines. This is reflected across the broad range of the CBI’s regulatory and supervisory interactions with industry the operation of a risk-based supervisory framework with clear processes and levels of engagement setting out its annual programme of supervisory themed-inspections and enforcement priorities at the beginning of each year; and the period of open consultation operated by the Central Bank is, in general, 12 weeks", the strategy says.

Regulation & the financial crisis
"The changes that have developed over the past 5 years during the financial crisis have ensured that there is a more robust, independent and well-resourced Central Bank. Ireland is now widely recognised as having a well regulated financial services sector which is an important pillar underpinning the soundness of the IFS sector. Following the Central Bank Reform Act 2010, the Central Bank (“CBI”) has an independent mandate which is summarised in its mission statement: ‘Safeguard Stability, Protect Consumers’, it says.
"The CBI has developed a reputation as a competent and responsive body which maintains high levels of industry engagement compared to its regulatory peers. The CBI is subject to regular external scrutiny and has received positive assessments from the IMF, peer regulators and international standard setters as well as the European Supervisory authorities. Due to Ireland’s leading position in key IFS industry areas, the CBI plays a significant role on various sectoral regulatory issues in European policy fora."


A 'Banner brand' for Irish international financial services will be developed, and an annual industry summit is proposed, for Q1 2016: "Ireland will host a major IFS Summit to highlight emerging trends and opportunities in the sector and facilitate the building of connections amongst investors, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and representatives of leading global companies. This event will aim to attract leading international policy makers, companies, entrepreneurs and innovators across the sector with the intention of assisting them to build and renew relationships and pursue commercial opportunities, while simultaneously highlighting Ireland’s role, commitment and value to the global industry."

Education & skills
In education, it proposes to establish an IFS Education and Skills Liaison Group to provide a forum for the IFS industry to liaise with education sector stakeholders and relevant Government Departments and Agencies on implementing the skills/education elements of IFS2020 under the agegis of the Labour Market Council.

Fintech and other initiatives
A wide range of other initiatives are listed in the report, including identification of the opportunities that FIntech represents for Ireland, involving, as it does the convergence of financial services and IT skillsets.

Governmental Coordination
The report draws attention to the unique history of collaboration between the governmental agencies, and the private sectors in a public-private partnership over the past 30 year history of the IFS sector's emergence.

It refers to the various reforms that have taken place in the area in the past two years, and going forward, recommends that the new action plan be monitored and developed on an onging basis, under the aegis of the Department of the Taoiseach. The existing Clearing House Group, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach, will be replaced by an IFS industry advisory committee. The work will be supported by an IFS co-ordination team to be set up in the Department of the Taoiseach.

It says: "Relevant Departments and Agencies will work together to research, design and deliver a year-end annual
IFS progress report, which will
- measure progress on implementation of the IFS2020 strategy
- measure performance and trends in terms of the economic impact of the IFS sector
- assess risks to the sector;
- benchmark the competitiveness of the sector vis other international locations
Responsible: D/Taoiseach, supported by relevant Departments and Agencies."
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