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Minister Flanagan addresses the Irish Funds Industry Association seminar in Zurich


The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, today highlighted the Government’s commitment to supporting the growth of the International Financial Services Sector in Ireland in a speech in Zurich.

The Minister was speaking at a seminar organised by the Irish Funds Industry Association for Swiss fund and Asset Managers.

Minister Flanagan said:

“Ireland is recognised as one of the leading global hubs of expertise for the establishment and servicing of internationally-distributed, collective investment funds, with the value of assets domiciled or administered in Ireland exceeded €3.2 trillion.

“The Government is committed to the creation of a business-friendly environment and to working in partnership with industry to drive investment, entrepreneurship, jobs and innovation. I was very pleased to have an opportunity today to engage directly with so many Swiss-based fund and asset managers today."

Highlighting Ireland’s new International Financial Services Strategy, the Minister said:

“Ireland’s new Financial Services Strategy seeks to build on our successes to date by focusing on supporting the IFS sector to capture new opportunities and deal with competitive challenges. The response of the industry to this initiative has been hugely positive.”

The seminar, hosted by Swiss global financial services company UBS, was also addressed by industry experts who outlined why Ireland is one of the best countries in the world to do business and the location of choice for administrating and domiciling investment funds.

UBS has three businesses in Ireland: UBS Financial Services, Lantern Asset Management and UBS Fund Services.

Minister Flanagan also held meetings with senior representatives of Swiss companies with significant investments in Ireland.


Press Office

7 May 2015


Full speech by Minister Flanagan below – check against delivery.

Notes to editors:

• Minister Flanagan is in Switzerland as part of a two day official visit at the invitation of Foreign Minister Burkhalter, with whom he held political consultations on 6 May.


Special Address by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
Mr Charles Flanagan TD, to a seminar organised by the
Irish Funds Industry Association
Zurich, 7 May 2015


Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased to be here in Zurich to address this seminar organized by the Irish Funds Industry Association.

I would like to say a special word of thanks to the Association for inviting me to speak here today and in particular to the UBS for so generously hosting the event.  

I have come to Switzerland at the invitation of my Swiss colleague, Foreign Minister Burkhalter, and we had very useful discussions yesterday in Berne.

I was delighted that my visit could include a visit to Zurich for this seminar.

As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I have put Ireland’s economic renewal at the centre of my work, by promoting Ireland internationally as a destination for business, investment, tourism and education.

I have made economic promotion a cornerstone of the work of our diplomatic service. Our Embassy in Berne has worked to promote links between the Irish and Swiss financial services industry.

The Irish Funds Industry Association has prepared a very interesting and informative programme for you today. You will be fully briefed on the extensive strengths of Ireland’s International Financial Services Industry.

Niamh Haughey of our inward investment agency, IDA Ireland, will explain why Ireland is one of the best places in the world to do business.

You will hear from a range of experts in your field about why Ireland is the location of choice for administrating and domiciling funds.

In my address to you today, as a member of the Irish Government, I would like to convey to you the commitments that our Government has made to supporting the growth of Ireland’s Financial Services industry.

The Irish Government is committed to the creation of a business-friendly environment and to working in partnership with industry to drive investment, entrepreneurship, jobs and innovation.

This commitment is reflected in the appointment, for the first time in 20 years, of a Minister with specific responsibility for international financial services, Minister Simon Harris, and the launch of a new International Financial Services Strategy for Ireland.

By focusing on the growth of Ireland’s fund and wider international financial services sector the Government is seeking to build on an area of existing strength and capability.

Today, for example, Ireland is recognised as one of the leading global hubs of expertise for the establishment and servicing of internationally-distributed, collective investment funds.

As at the end of 2014, the value of assets domiciled or administered in Ireland exceeded €3.2 trillion, of which over €1.66 trillion in asset value relates to Irish domiciled funds.

These funds are managed by 900 asset managers from 50 countries, with the funds industry employing over 13,000 people in Ireland.

Ireland’s success in funds and international financial services in general is part of a bigger picture.

Since 2011, Ireland has significantly improved its overall international competitiveness.

The IMD World Competitiveness Center here in Switzerland has increased our global ranking in 2014.  

Ireland ranks 2nd in the Eurozone for ease of doing business, 1st in the world for inward investment by quality and value, 1st in the world for investment incentives and 1st in the world for availability of skilled labour.

We were the fastest growing economy in EU in 2014, and expect to retain this lead in 2015.

We have a competitive tax offering, a highly-skilled workforce, and the youngest population in Europe.

We are the only English-speaking Eurozone country, with barrier free access to 500m people.

Looking at the fund industry in particular, the highly skilled workforce provides value-added services including fund administration, transfer agency, custody, legal, tax and audit services.

Ireland also has an effective and robust regulatory framework, founded on principles of openness, transparency and investor protection, which enables efficient fund and promoter approval.

Ireland is a member of the EU, the Eurozone, the OECD, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and is an internationally recognised jurisdiction.

European initiatives to create a single market for financial services include provisions allowing for the management and marketing of funds cross-border within the EU.

These provisions have encouraged the merging and centralising of funds that serve international markets, and Ireland has benefitted from those policies.

With over 3,600 funds and sub-funds listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, Ireland is recognised worldwide as a leading centre for the listing of investment funds. 

Ireland’s new Financial Services Strategy seeks to build on our successes to date by focusing on supporting the IFS sector to capture new opportunities and deal with competitive challenges.

We will do so by harnessing the full capabilities of the public sector and industry itself.

The Strategy sets out a long-term vision of Ireland as a global location of choice for specialist international financial service, building on our talent, technology, innovation and excellent client service and embracing the highest standards of governance.

Our key strategic priorities are to drive continuous improvement in the operating environment and competitiveness and to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship especially in relation to financial technology and governance, risk and compliance.

The Government puts such a high priority on the International Financial Sector because the Government’s ambitious economic agenda sees export-led growth as a key driver of sustainable economic development.

And in that context, we recognize the clear potential for the IFS sector to make a strong contribution in the coming years to our job creation and growth objectives.

Today, more than 35,000 people are directly employed in International Financial Services companies.

And that’s not counting the thousands more jobs that these IFS companies indirectly support.

Irish-based IFS companies are competing successfully on the global stage, and are winning new business on the basis of innovative services, technologies and business models.

Ireland is now home to over 230 foreign multinational IFS companies, including the world’s largest companies in sub-sectors like banking, funds, asset management and investment, insurance and reinsurance, and aircraft leasing.

We are a global centre for aviation finance, with 50% of the world’s leased aircraft fleet managed or owned from Ireland.

And, we also have over 200 Irish-owned IFS companies at the cutting edge of innovative international finance services, in sub-sectors like Payments and FinTech.

In Payments, we’re recognised around the world as a leader in Dynamic Currency Conversion, PCI Compliance and payment processing platforms.

And in FinTech, we see exciting prospects in Ireland both for established multinational companies and for innovative Irish-owned companies.

The Irish Government, too, is reaping the benefits of this strong growth in IFS activity, in terms of increased employment and a growing contribution by the IFS sector to tax revenues and export sales.

The statistics speak for themselves: we’ve seen a 66% increase in employment levels in the sector in the last decade alone.

Despite these competitive advantages, the Irish Government is well aware that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels.

No one here today needs reminding that the industry as we know it is facing an increasing rate of competitive challenge.

IFS companies across the globe are now almost routinely dealing with disruptive change, driven by innovative technologies and business models, emerging markets, shifting demographics, regulatory requirements and evolving customer behaviour and expectations.

While this presents fantastic opportunities for Ireland to capitalize on, it also presents challenges – for IFS companies themselves, for the industry, and for Government. We need to remain nimble and responsive to changing global trends and to new industry opportunities and challenges.

I can assure you that the Irish Government is fully committed to working with the industry to meet these challenges by implementing the vision for the sector articulated by the Financial Services Strategy.

Events such as this seminar are a good opportunity to bring our initiatives and our vision to the attention of key decision-makers and to engage in further dialogue with industry representatives.

I am sure that there will be much fruitful exchange and knowledge-sharing during today’s event.

In conclusion, I would say that there are many good reasons to visit Zurich.

Irish visitors should know that Zurich is the final resting place of our great writer, James Joyce, and his wife, Nora Barnacle.

Sadly, despite his time in Zurich, James Joyce never learned to manage his money - even when he became famous.

I can’t imagine what he would say if he were here today but I’m sure he would be pleased to know that his name is over the door of an authentic Dublin pub in Zurich’s financial district.

I wish you a most interesting and productive morning and I look forward to deepening and expanding our business relationships with you and your organisations.