Industry experts met in Dublin for the annual Global Investor Dublin Roundtable.
- Luke Jeffs, Global Investor (chair)
- Anne-Marie Whelehan, National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA)
- Pat Lardner, Irish Funds
- Padraig Kenny, RBC Investor & Treasury Services
- Stuart Alexander, Gemini Investment Management
- Tara Doyle, Matheson
- Martina Kelly, Central Bank of Ireland
- Jaspal Sagger, Legg Mason
Chair: How healthy is the Irish funds market right now?
Pat Lardner: The facts clearly suggest that 2017 was the best year that we’ve had in terms of flow. We captured approximately 30% of all flows into European domiciled funds, with a market share of between 16% and 17%. Our growth rate continues to be the highest growth rate of the large domiciles. When we look at it from the point of view of the association, we’ve seen growth in the membership at about 7.5% annualised over the last four or five years and grew by about 10% last year in terms of membership. The breadth and growth of that membership reflects what’s happening here -- we’re seeing smaller firms involved in FinTech and innovation, more investment managers and a greater number of providers of different type solutions. From an impact point of view, we employ some 16,000 people around the country, so that’s in 10 different counties, so it has continued from an industry that grew up literally where we are here in Dublin to one that has national impact.
Pat Lardner, Irish Funds.
Tara Doyle: There has been significant growth in the industry, particularly in 2017. What’s been interesting is it hasn’t just been one asset class or fund. When people think of Ireland, they often think about ETFs or money market funds, and yes they have had asset flows, but we’re seeing it across the board.
Pat Lardner: We’ve seen growth in both part of the business; where assets are domiciled here and also the servicing side. The quantum is somewhere between €4.4 and €4.5 trillion at this stage, with €2.4-2.5 trillion of domiciled while about €2 trillion are funds serviced here.
Padraig Kenny: The types of businesses operating in Ireland has broadened significantly over the past three to five years. The country continues to evolve to attract firms to the jurisdiction. Brexit has certainly been a trigger but so too has Mifid II. The fintech and broader technology sector also views Ireland as a favourable location. The industry that Pat represents has a very different composition to even two or three years ago.
Stuart Alexander: The Irish market has been more receptive to fund development than any market I know. It’s open for business and therefore attracts fund managers and businesses alike. It’s not just the quality of the people but the central bank is far easier to deal with than many of the regulators globally. If you want to get a product to market and quickly, Ireland is the place.
Jaspal Sagger: Ireland has done a great job with remaining and enhancing its competitiveness with other domiciles and being supportive in allowing fund managers to grow their business. A good example is, how Ireland has expanded its expertise within the alternatives space. Part of this is around building up the capabilities of its workforce, the administrators and the lawyers. There’s no lack of expertise, although types of fund structures compatible with alternatives needs to continue to move pace.
Chair: What’s the feeling in the country about what Brexit is going to mean for the domestic industry?
Pat Lardner: While it’s a bit of an oversimplification to say: “What did we do before we had the Brexit discussion? We provided solutions to EU and non-EU based managers. What will we do post the Brexit discussion? We will do the same thing.” The question is, how do we bridge the pre and the post Brexit environment? How do we make sure we take as much of the uncertainty out of this process as quickly as we can, to facilitate decision-making at an individual investor, solution provider, regulatory framework and policymaker level?
Jaspal Sagger: UK-based asset managers with assets in Ireland but no presence in the EU27 must consider how they will service their EU-based clients in the future. With the delegation processes to foreign offices still not clear, asset managers may require substance outside of the UK. Ireland is positioning itself to accommodate asset managers like ourselves, to service our European business from Ireland. Clearly there are other locations in Europe who are also vying for the same spot.
Martina Kelly: For the Central Bank, our first focus is on preparedness. We are carrying out a lot of work with firms that are here assessing their plans so that we understand if they have worked out their own risks and then what are their plans in relation to those risks? That’s a key focus for our supervisory teams. Then of course we have new applications. That has an impact on resources, so we’ve had to recruit quite extensively, and continue to do that. We also have existing firms with new activities including those in relation to the Mifid business, so that‘s interesting, particularly now. The third area is the impact for businesses in terms of passporting, etc. In that context our work within ESMA is extremely important. We are part of that European system of financial regulators. The amount of work going on within ESMA might not be well understood because those discussions are not open to the public but there is a lot of work going on in assessing cliff effects, delegation arrangements and the MOU related issues.
Martina Kelly, Central Bank of Ireland
Padraig Kenny: RBC takes a wider European view. Ireland was recognised as strategically important to our European franchise before the referendum, and whatever form Brexit takes, it will continue to be so. It’s hard to answer what Brexit will mean for the industry and Ireland in particular at this point in time. There are many opinions, you go from country to country, political party to political party, and I don’t think anybody can really say what the final outcome will be.
Pat Lardner: We believe you take the best investment management skill from wherever it’s located and apply it within the rules that exist in the EU. The Brexit discussion shouldn’t call into question the validity of that model, because that’s the one that is proven. Because the United Kingdom and the City of London has been so integral in providing scale and breadth of solutions, the question becomes, how do you make sure you continue to have the best access to skill and scale while respecting European law, the primacy of the single market? There is no single destination in the EU that has the capacity, the breadth and the depth to do all of what the City of London does. This is where the Irish government and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and others should be complemented. The government has a clear plan from now to 2040. Businesses make decisions in the realms of uncertainty but they want to know the places in which they’re going to do business have a plan and a track record of executing both easy and difficult things well. We have a track record as a country in doing that. The fact the government and the country is prepared to put its money where its mouth is by having a Strategic Investment Fund that has a double bottom line of commercial return and developing capabilities across the economy.
Chair: How would you assess the current state of the infrastructure in the country?
Anne-Marie Whelehan: As the group has said, we don’t have all the transport links we need for future growth in the country. ISIF are looking at this, not just in Dublin but all around Ireland as well. We are looking at fulfilling investment opportunities not being fully satisfied elsewhere in the marketplace. In the last 12 months, we’ve undertaken a transaction with Shannon Airport for example, to support the upgrading of the main runway. More recently, we’ve done some work in Cherrywood in terms of building essential infrastructure, to enable the building houses there.
Padraig Kenny: If there are infrastructure challenges in front of us here in Ireland, the industry that represents us is at a national level and not confined to Dublin. There are good examples of where the industry has expanded outside of the capital.
Chair: Tara, what are you advising clients with regards to moving business here or elsewhere in the country?
Tara Doyle: It was two years ago when we first did this roundtable here and we didn’t want to talk about Brexit. I think it was May again, and that time it was like: “We won’t talk about Brexit because it won’t be coming out until June, we don’t want to look dated and of course the vote won’t pass.” How wrong we were. It’s extraordinary to think that’s just two years. It feels like I’ve been living Brexit for ten, and instead of your life speeding up as you get older, it’s really slowing down and these two years have felt like ten. What we keep saying, every time we have a conversation about it is, we’ll have certainty soon, we’ll eventually know what the deadline is, what the transition deal is, what the shape of any agreement is. Yet the closer we get to all of these looming dates, the more uncertainty it feels like we have. As an industry we crave certainty, we need to know what the rules are, so we can comply with them and create the best product for investors. We don’t have certainty, and what we’re being pushed into by the political environment is contingency planning, so what we’re now looking for is at least certainty around the contingency planning. I think that’s what Ireland is trying to bring to the table, to at least say: “This is the shape of what you need to do if your contingency plan is in Ireland, these are the requirements of our regulator and these are the offerings of the jurisdiction in terms of service expertise, employment and infrastructure.” We’re trying to bring certainty to the table so when people are sitting in London and looking at the different options across Europe, they can see certainty in Ireland at a time of incredible uncertainty. That’s something that’s been welcomed by clients.
Tara Doyle, Matheson
Stuart Alexander: The certainty of the uncertainty is prevalent everywhere, and it’s not just people from London coming over here, it’s anywhere in the world. Everyone’s thinking, “What is going to happen with Brexit?” As a Brit I think: “That is creating so much uncertainty for managers sitting in Asia, the US or wherever, and they want to come into the UK market, but they want to come to it from an offshore position.”
Jaspal Sagger: The crucial question is how we distribute and service financial products to our clients across Europe and elsewhere? The existing regimes allow passporting. The challenge you have now is how do you structure your business? It’s not clear yet whether Irish domiciled funds can continue to be sold into the UK, and vice versa. Asset managers have sold a lot of UCITS funds into the UK, the question is what are UK investors going to do going forward? Will they be able to buy Irish or Luxembourgbased funds as before? Although we expect passporting to continue, it may be that buyer preferences direct UK flow back onshore. That uncertainty means we may have two fund ranges. I would think that’s probably common in the industry to have a UK and an Irish fund range. Having two ranges may not be ideal because ultimately, we want to build economies of scale in as few funds as possible and pass on these savings to investors. As a large asset management organisation, we have to plan for every eventuality. We expect there to be equivalence, whereby UK-domiciled funds will have substantially similar regulatory systems to UCITS to not restrict access, but UK funds will not have UCITS status. That nuance might be enough for a big shift in preference towards local funds.
Stuart Alexander: We’re seeing some smaller managers in the UK doing the opposite to everyone else. They’re saying: “Actually, we do need to go and distribute in Europe, so where do we go? Actually, let’s go into Dublin.” Because of that uncertainty, they’re now planning to come into Dublin, whereas the larger managers from overseas are saying: “We need to hold-off on that.” Pat Lardner: From an advocacy point of view we’ve always said there’s dual priority -- one is around delegation and the other is continued inbound distribution. The authorities (whether it be treasury, the FCA or the UK industry) have all been unified in their view it should continue and there will be a backstop there. So while there isn’t certainty, there is a level of confidence and encouragement that exists. If you’re sitting from an investor, policymaker, regulatory or a product or a solution provider’s perspective, you want economies of scale. You don’t want to create disruption, you don’t want to create an additional barrier to entry by bifurcating the fund structures.
Martina Kelly: That’s why we are so focused on preparedness. We have seen some maturity in thinking at the firms we regulate although we still have some concerns. These concerns have been highlighted in some recent speeches from our Deputy Governor of Financial Regulation and the Director of Asset Management Supervision and both included some observations on what we are finding through our engagement and surveys. So, we have some concerns but do see positive signs of more mature thinking within firms.
Chair: What are the specific areas of concern?
Martina Kelly: Our mandate is to have a well-regulated financial system that operates for the benefit of consumers and investors. We want to see not just that firms have identified issues and concerns for them but what is their planning in relation to those risks?
Chair: We’ve mentioned two or three times the Mifid effect. What are some of the ways in which the industry, the regulators, trade associations can work together to try and maximise that opportunity?
Martina Kelly: From the perspective of the Central Bank, we are seeing some different types of activities being proposed. In that context, the key for us is that our approach supports these activities, be it in the context of authorisation, so that we have the resources to carry out the authorisation related work. However, it is equally important that we have the supporting policy framework, and that is something that we are consistently working on. That will continue over the coming years and particularly in the advent of Mifid II.
Tara Doyle: Are there people who can do these jobs in Dublin right now? We’ve benefited from the evolution of European regulation, so the way in which issues like UCITS and AIFMD have been coming together and been very closely aligned with the Mifid requirements. Pre-Brexit we were getting management companies requirements closely aligned with what Mifid companies needed to do, and obviously management companies can have Mifid addons, and so we’ve been developing expertise there on the advisory side, within the director community and the third party ManCo community.
Padraig Kenny: The nature of what those firms are doing, either the third party ManCo or the Mifid firm, is different to what’s in our history and is more in the area of risk and compliance than previously we had done. Ireland has moved from a narrow focus on operational contribution to something much wider in governance and oversight of all things connected with funds.
Jaspal Sagger: CP86 has proved to be very helpful guidance for ensuring high standards of governance and regulatory compliance across our European operations. CP86 has evolved the role of directors, bringing them much closer to the business activities of the firm itself. Allowing those people to focus on the functions we can designate to specific directors offshore, which is helpful.
Padraig Kenny: There is increased demand but increased supply too. CP86 wasn’t the start of different participants in Ireland being able to make a wider contribution because of the way that corporate fund governance was moving pre-CP86.
Jaspal Sagger: Ireland’s catching up with Luxembourg to a degree; Luxembourg already had the onshore ManCos.
Padraig Kenny: The Irish funds industry is now in its fourth decade. In those thirty plus years, people’s skills and experiences have evolved substantially. People are repatriating back to Ireland after gaining vital international experience. When you think back to the earlier discussion we had about how the UK may or may not develop, the FCA are saying they need 480 independent directors from scratch.
Padraig Kenny, RBC
Martina Kelly: I find there might be some misunderstanding about CP86. It might be more useful to use the correct terminology which is the organisation of fund management companies. In any case, one of the reasons that we consulted in the original CP86 was to address precisely what you’ve just said. If you look at European fund legislation it’s based on three pillars, so it’s about product rules, the important role of the depository and key of course is the role of the fund ManCo, whether that’s a UCITS Management Company or an AIFM. From our perspective it was important we reviewed and considered what are those obligations and policies to which the ManCo is now subject – and they are very extensive. That led us to quite a detailed study and a resulting framework, which in a way is not about rules, because mostly the rules are in this EU legislation. In providing detailed guidance, which was the final outcome, the Central Bank is seeking to ensure that the entity we authorise owns its own policies and procedures and supervises its delegates. We do not have a problem with delegation in the way that we understand the way it should work, and importantly in a way that we can supervise.
Chair: Historically when you think about Ireland you think about ETFs, and I know that there’s a lot of work underway to change the regulatory framework around ETFs, so I was hoping that Martina could give us a bit of an update on where the central bank is in that effort, please.
Martina Kelly: There isn’t an intention to change the regulatory framework. That was never our intention when we started reviewing ETFs. It was about the anticipated growth in ETFs, and we wanted to ensure we understood what went on within the ETF structure, because it’s complex compared to normal funds. That review ended and resulted in the published discussion paper. Then we had some work beginning in IOSCO, another forum in which we are actively engaged. In fact we hosted a roundtable on ETFs for IOSCO in February, which was a very successful event. In the context of IOSCO, the scoping of the work is still ongoing, so it’s not entirely clear what the final mandate will be.
Pat Lardner: Anybody looking at a jurisdiction would want to understand that when it thinks about issues: that it’s deliberate, thoughtful and joined-up. To be fair to the Central Bank of Ireland, rather than going straight out and deciding policy or rules, it said: “There is an international debate, Ireland is an important player and contributor to that international debate, so it is important therefore to go out and to ask questions and to talk to people,” which is what happened. If that means the debate is evidencebased and better informed, that should make better policy.
Jaspal Sagger: The way we think about ETFs at Legg Mason is that’s it’s just another vehicle for our clients to access our investment platform. We are providing clients with choice how they want to access our investment strategies. ETFs have been prevalent in the low-cost passive space, but we’ll see that evolving. In the US it’s slightly different, we see interest in ETFs from retail clients seeking improved tax efficiency. In Europe the interest is more on the institutional side but there is going to be a convergence, driven largely by technology. We expect technology to dramatically change the way people purchase financial products. And within this new framework, ETFs may be a better vehicle for some investors. In the US there’s a slightly different argument for the uptake in ETFs compared to mutual funds. ETFs have a tax advantage and retail investors and advisers are used to buying investments from the exchange. In Europe there is less of an exchange-driven approach and many platforms used by advisers do not have the integrated technology to buy ETFs for their clients. We expect this to evolve over time. The US has gone through huge debates around transparency of active ETFs. For ETFs to grow their market share, we have to put them on a level playing field with mutual funds in terms of accessibility for traditional fund buyers.
Padraig Kenny: Before ETFs we were having a discussion about money market funds and before money market funds there was long-only equity investment. But not one of those replaced the others, rather new things arrive and present additional challenges. There is no doubt the ETF market will become bigger.
Tara Doyle: I think one thing it’s important to remember when we talk about ETFs is Ireland is the second largest domicile in the world for ETFs, so we are a significant player and our central bank is a significant regulator. What was impressive about the discussion paper was the central bank engaging with other European regulators to bring them up to speed in terms of ETF regulation and the ETF market when they maybe didn’t have the direct regulation of those products to have the in-depth understanding the central bank would be getting by virtue of its regulation. But there can be a danger in being the best child in class if you’re not able to bring everybody else with you. One of the things we’re concerned about as an industry from a regulatory perspective is our sophistication doesn’t bring us to a point in regulation which creates a difference between how Ireland and the rest of Europe regulates ETFs. If we have an extra layer of regulation on top of what UCITS requires, that potentially creates an issue for Ireland.
Chair: How do you guard against that?
Tara Doyle: Influence at ESMA and being very engaged with ESMA, which our regulator is, and influence around the IOSCO table I think as well. Pat Lardner: We engage at industry level at EFAMA and other places. To be fair, there’s a theme that’s going through this discussion, and it’s not all catalysed by Brexit. We’re having a greater variety of discussions with players in different countries and the regulator is involved in European decision making both at an ESMA and an IOSCO level.
Chair: Anne-Marie, what do you see as being the most interesting investment opportunities in Ireland right now?
Anne-Marie Whelehan: We’re investing across sectors and right across the capital spectrum. We have three strategic drivers - 1) enabling competitiveness of the economy, 2) supporting engines of economic growth and 3) position key sectors to lead, innovate and compete on a global level. We’re looking to balance our double bottom line, getting the risk appropriate commercial return and delivering the economic impact nfor the country as well. We will align our investments with government policy and some of the key initiatives from the government, such as Project Ireland 2040. Obviously, housing is a big thing at the moment. In the past we’ve done of debt and equity transactions in the real estate space. We have seen significant improvement in the Irish economy and Irish Investment market over the last few years, but we still see capital gaps remaining in critical sectors of the market. We’re also looking at high growth companies. We will invest in Irishbased businesses that exhibit or have the potential for significant future growth. As part of our Innovation Strategy we’re looking at the healthcare and life sciences space, as well as decarbonisation. As we look at investment in funds and indeed all our investments, we will identify if co-investors to invest alongside us. Perhaps it is a specialist type of investor that wouldn’t ordinarily come into Ireland. In this and other ways, we aim to increase the impact of ISIF investments in the Irish economy by attracting high quality global partners to co-invest with us.
Anne-Marie Whelehan, NTMA
Pat Lardner: We went through a phase where we had lots of debt capital and virtually no equity capital, and even in terms of the mezzanine or the high yield piece in the middle, they were kind of around the edges. We’re now following from a European point of view a capital markets union policy which wants to see more financing from the markets rather than banks. If you look at what the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund does, they provide pieces of capital that help unlock investment and opportunities. That search for yield that dominated everybody’s thinking for so long meant there were so many premiums that people weren’t capturing that they became alive to because the other premia had evaporated. When you have capital that has a mindset of a much longer duration, it enables you to be more creative. The fact the European Investment Bank has set up a branch here in Ireland, we very consciously asked the EIB to come here, was it this time last year probably, to talk about the way in which they as an organisation more broadly were deploying capital into things like debt capital structures, but also into private equity investment and partnership type structures for a couple of reasons. We had our own needs around that because of legislative reforms that we wanted to prompt here but also just to open up that discussion more broadly, not only from a regulatory point of view but for legislators and policymakers. When you link it to the sustainability targets here as well, which actually do have a penchant for investing in early equity and growth equity, you do start joining dots together for government, policymakers and end investors, which isn’t particular to Ireland but it happens at a particular point where you’ve got high growth, young demographics and increasing flow of capital or availability of capital. The books of the big banks here were focused on property lending, now I think they are much more focused in deploying their debt capital ammunition into a broader range of sectors in the economy.
Jaspal Sagger: There’s been a dislocation on lending markets, as banks have withdrawn capital. This has provided opportunities for alternative lenders to finance activities such as ship lending or aircraft leasing. Given investment returns in recent years, investors are increasingly willing to give up illiquidity for the premium because they can’t find that yield pick-up elsewhere.
Pat Lardner: The answer to your question about investment opportunities in Ireland, one of them is less in the listed area and more in the unlisted or private capital. Ireland does present investment opportunity and we can see some of them in a physical form right across the river from us (commercial real estate development in the IFSC). There are others that are not so tangible, maybe in the technology area, but you can take it more widely in private capital investment, and that is a big theme where Ireland can play its part as a centre for investment and a centre for the structures that would support investment into other countries and regions.
Chair: What are you doing to try and ensure continuity by engaging investors through the next 10-20 years?
Pat Lardner: If you look at our association, we have 600 plus people involved in working groups from 80 plus different firms. Are we actually then bringing in the next cohort, the next runway of talent? Definitely in our Innovation, Skills and Technology Steering Group that’s one of the things we’ve started to do in the last five or six months.
Jaspal Sagger: There are many ways the industry may be able to benefit from technology in the future. One is around how data and technology can help investors to make better investment decisions by providing them with more customised outcome-based solutions. Technology will also impact the service industry, such as fund administrators, custody etc by providing more seamless transactional flows and reporting. But for us, the biggest opportunity is around distribution. Right now the younger generation may not have a lot of money, but wealth transfer is going to happen and how they think about saving for their own retirement and putting the assets that they’ve earned or inherited to work will be more likely through online technology and tools. Like many asset managers this is an area we closely look into. How can we provide tools to help distributors or people that sell financial products which will be beneficial to them when dealing with their end clients? Technology will allow much greater customisation around how people fulfil their investment objectives whether they’re saving for retirement, university or other needs.
Stuart Alexander: Asset managers have developed FinTech because of efficiency. They need to cut costs because pricing pressure coming from the distribution side is saying, “You’ve got to do this better, more efficiently and cheaper.” So how do you do that? You can’t cut management, because you need fund managers, unless you go down the passive route of course, but on the active side you’ve got to find a way of delivering your performance and your product to the market quicker and more cheaply, and FinTech is definitely a way of going. I do remember saying at the Irish Funds Conference last year, I was sitting on a panel and the lady next to me said something, she was talking about choosing fund managers and swiping them left to right. It’s like Tinder. I couldn’t believe that.
Stuart Alexander, Gemini Investment Management
Tara Doyle: As a lawyer, the Tinderification of our industry is horrifying, because the technology is allowing disintermediation, and what that’s going to do is place more and more of the risk back on the fund and on the manager, because you don’t have somebody in the middle now explaining things to people. Then as the lawyer you’re saying: “I’m used to drafting 70-page prospectus documents and I can put all the risks in there, now I have to figure them out on a one-page app, one screen, swipe right/swipe left for this fund.” It’s worrying at many levels but it’s where we need to go.
Padraig Kenny: There are more respected channels such as Amazon that haven’t yet suggested any appetite for fund distribution. We’ve come from the start of this conversation right to something that’s hard to predict but, if you look at the retail banking model – where it was and where it is today, it’s likely that change to this industry is only around the corner.
Martina Kelly: From a regulatory perspective it’s important that we understand the impact of technology changes. Not easy. Recently we announced we were creating an innovation hub, and it’s providing a means for firms to engage with the Regulator. The Central Bank has also, in recent times, carried out a survey on fintech relating to the funds industry.
Padraig Kenny: We participated in that survey, Martina. This is an area where it’s perfectly right the regulator should be well informed by gaining the views from as many participants that it can. But to go back to the Amazon example, these type of tech giants are not yet on the radar of the regulator. Yet, they are the type of firm that has the capability to go where they want, whenever they choose, and very quickly. If they do enter our industry, they will have to engage with the regulatory bodies. There are some anticipated ways our industry will probably evolve, and it’s there that these firms will be looking at. Martina Kelly: Maybe it’s a good thing that you have to move from the 70 pages of risk disclosure to very concise risk disclosure. I can see a lot of advantage for an investor from that change in approach.
Pat Lardner: I was at a discussion in the States eight weeks ago using the data that managers have about buying activity with independent financial advisers. One manager group said: “We’ve got much better information now when we talk to this group of advisers for the purposes of supporting who we position our funds.” I said: “You also have a lot of information about where their processes, where their approach is inefficient, shows biases, so actually there still is potentially a lot of power in the data going back the other way.” That is not about: “I’m just going to give you information and away you go.” Rather it’s: “I’m looking at the way in which you’re making decisions and here’s a better way to do it!”
Jaspal Sagger: There are a number of new non-traditional market entrants looking to enter into the asset management industry. From a technology perspective, wealth management has been slower to adopt technology but we expect this to change in the future.
Stuart Alexander: But it is being driven by the distributors at the end of the day, because they are obviously facing off with customers whose expectation is much higher than say the other end of the spectrum which is the providers.
Anne-Marie Whelehan: In reality, today, tomorrow, most companies are going to focus more and more on technology, and how businesses manage this is really important. We need to consider the society changes that come along with this, I heard some statistics recently that said that by 2020 50% of the workforce are going to be millennials. In terms of support to the fund industry and technology, the ISIF will do this indirectly, via support of high potential high growth technology companies. We also have a role to play in investing in infrastructure, real estate etc, as discussed earlier, which supports future proofing and strengthening the economy.
Chair: If there’s one thing that you could change that would be of the greatest benefit to the Irish fund industry, what would that one thing be?
Tara Doyle: It would be an ability to deal with regulation more quickly, so being able to nimbly react to changes in the marketplace by introducing regulation which would help us create new product more quickly.
Jaspal Sagger: For asset managers looking to move to Ireland, providing the infrastructure and being able to accommodate new people into this location is important, for example housing, schools and transport links. The second aspect is around timeliness. Ireland does a great job at attracting business, and providing timely approvals for new products as well as other operational changes will be critical for Ireland in remaining competitive.
Martina Kelly: In terms of timeliness, the whole regime has become more complex, and so you can’t really get that nimbleness due to the complexity. I’m not saying some things couldn’t move quicker, of course they could, but generally it just does take a lot longer because of that complexity.
Padraig Kenny: Everybody would like to expedite these processes but rushing things through carries significant risks. We are not in a local, self-contained environment, rather we have dependencies on firms who are leveraging Ireland and the regulators around the word that interact with us. I wouldn’t be looking for excessive speed of implementation and then running ourselves into unexpected difficulties.
Pat Lardner: I would like to see better alignment at European level between the political idea to do something, the policy framework which devises it, the legislative process it goes through, and how that takes into account the practical realities of implementation. I would like there to be a much better focus on discussion and evidence early in those processes, rather than where we seem to end up too often.
Padraig Kenny: If you look at the US in contrast to other countries, there is a sense of attachment and ownership that people have towards their 401k investment. This can be attributed to the education process that’s behind owning what’s in there. It’s a big ask for Ireland, but a lot of things we would ask for is a local version of something that’s regional or global. There is opportunity for investors and savers within these funds, wherever they’re located, whatever way they’re structured. I would maybe re-state the preference that there would just be more recognition of that possibility from the generation we were talking about, or others who have investment and savings opportunities available.