The past year's trends are surveyed in our cover story. It has been a turbulent year, but also in many ways a landmark year. Those landmarks raise hopes about several features of the near term future for Ireland, business, the economy, and the financial services sector, both domestic and international.
The economic backdrop is benign. It indicates that from a growth and pure financial point of view Ireland has totally got it right. In it, we point to "a hugely significant factor, accounting for, in 2022 alone, a decline in the absolute size of the national debt of 790 basis points. This follows a 660 basis point decline in 2021, and 140 in 2020, the peak year of the pandemic". This indicates that a potentially viable and sustainable future lies ahead for the Republic of Ireland - that relatively is more attractive indeed than any other coutry in the continent of Europe as 2023 dawns.
How this may underpin the financial services industry is examined there, as it is in other features in this issue, including ideas discussed at various industry conferences in the past month, including the Central Bank's inaugural Systems conference as well as other keynote events such as the Financial Services Industry annual dinner and the annual conference of the Federation of International Banks.
Leading edge thinking is evident through the rest of the publication, in our features, and 'This Month' articles, as well as in the December 2022 Irish Tax Monitor, where we reference the benefits of a move towards a territorial tax system, and examine latest developments on the BEPS front, including its implications for the insurance industry.
There are factors that give grounds for optimism, and in the November 2022 issue we present them not least to provide some balance to the picture as 2023 comes into view. Economic crisis has been the order of the day in Ireland's neighbouring island, and we comment on developments arising from the replacement of the British Prime Minister in our editorial this month, looking behind the headlines at two more fundamental issues that remain embedded at the heart of Irish and British politics, and economics.
These concern Brexit, and the, associated, issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol. There are ideas floated there, in regard to Brexit, down the road for Britain, and the governance of Northern Ireland, which we would commend for discussion.
Invest NI's Regional Director - Ireland, Jenny Santiago Young writes there that "the companies operating in risk and compliance in Northern Ireland are a valuable asset to Ireland. They can help the Irish funds industry meet increased regulatory requirements and continue its impressive growth and expanding remit". The investment funds industry is also prominent in other areas not least in the cutting edge contributions of the thought leaders that write in the November issue on issues at the forefront of the asset management industry's current concerns, in issue No 8 of the Finance Dublin Funds Monitor. and, for cutting edge thinking on corporate tax matters see the Roundtable in this month's: Irish Tax Monitor.
In the October issue of Finance Dublin we mark 35 years of Finance Dublin's publication this year with the launch of a new service for subscribers that provides a continuous digital archive going back to our very first publication, FINANCE Magazine, in 1987. It completes a project which has involved the photographing and indexing of over 15,000 pages of the publication, our annual yearbooks, going back to the first edition in 1992, and the component articles and images.
The issue also contains a rich menu of insights, ranging from the assessments of our Roundtable contributors from Deloitte, BDO and Maples Group in the Irish Tax Monitor, Ireland's insurance industry, the funding market as well as in this month's editorial (below) where we quote John F. Kennedy to remind us that we are in a war situation, given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and that we can count ourselves lucky to an extent that the Irish economy is in good shape, given the wise tax and trade policies pursued by successive Irish Governments.
The September issue of Finance Dublin provides insights on a white hot talent market in financial services, with all the old familiar concerns about overheating and competitiveness concerns that brings. This is notwithstanding the overall economic and markets backdrop, and speaks to the underlying strength of financial services in the jurisdiction as we begin to look to the prospects of a new year, in 2023.
The second part of the annual Finance Dublin accountancy industry survey focuses on the labour market and hiring plans of top firms as managing partners continue their insights on the market. The broader financial services market has ended summer 2022 in buoyant conditions. It will be boosted in a positive way by plans and ideas for next generation skill and product development, such as those by IDA Ireland and leading recruitment specialists in the issue.
In the latest edition of the Finance Dublin Funds Monitor the Roundtable addresses key contemporary questions, including the rise of active management strategies in fund management agendas as the old certainties that supported passive investing recede. The expert analysis of the practitioners on AIFMD II and the changes in the Manco sector in Ireland also feature, as does the search for ESG 'truth'.
The budget season is upon us, and in the Irish Tax Monitor many learned suggestions are made, including on the important questions around the maintenance of the vital Section 110 regime.
A key focus of the September Roundtable is the 2023 Budget, and the personal tax burden. Ireland's marginal personal tax rate of 52% is a disincentive to businesses locating in Ireland and foreign based talent including Ireland's diaspora as well as a significant cost for SMEs hiring employees, says Deloitte's Paula Ruane.
The 2023 Budget also presents an opportunity to turbo-charge Ireland's R&D incentives regime, and Deloitte's Brian McDonnell presents a checklist of actions that could be implemented. More broadly, BDO's Angela Fleming assesses the CT system from an overall perspective, and identifies multiple areas of duplication that are now ripe for reform. Meanwhile, the Section 110 regime is looked at by Maples' William Fogarty and Deloitte's Colm Stringer. The improvements they suggest are implementable. At the EU level, Deloitte's Ronan Connaughton analyses the EU's tax transparency agenda for 2023. An improvement in EU member states' cooperation against Aggressive Tax Planning and Harmful Tax Regimes is at the top of the EU Commission's transparency agenda, he says.
The August issue of Finance Dublin features the Finance Dublin Accountancy Fee Income survey of Ireland's top accountancy firms. The data are rebased this year to focus more directly on the accountancy market in the Republic of Ireland, as distinct from the entire island of Ireland, and they show that following a COVID-induced slowdown in fee income growth recorded in the 2020 Survey, Ireland's leading firms have recovered strongly with fee income growth of 12 per cent over 2020.
The survey also shows the Republic of Ireland fee income of Ireland's top 20 largest significant firms passed €2 billion for the first time. The Survey publishes Republic of Ireland figures for the first time, confirming, PwC in first place there by size, followed closely by KPMG, EY and Deloitte, in that order. The Managing Partners of the top firms also provide their insights on the past year's business developments in the issue, providing an unique snapshot of the state of the accountancy industry in Ireland.
Insights on the rapid developments in regulation and in Europe's single market in financial services are also featured, as are key developments in tax and the interplay of tax in corporate financial planning, not least in the financial services industry itself.
The Review & Outlook section of the Finance Dublin Yearbook 2022 provides an annual perspective on the evolution of Ireland's international financial services industry, as one exceptional circumstance, the pandemic, is replaced by another - the war on Ukraine. The impact of these events on the evolution of FS are profound, yet there is great positivity underlying the stories, trends and developments across the markets, traditional and emerging, in finance.
The print and E-Paper edition of the online Yearbook are annually published (subscription required), and update the Online Professional Services Guide and IFS Companies Directory during the year. It will also provide insights into the evolving shape of the industry, and its players, both individual and corporate against the background of the evolving events in the IFS markets such as banking, investment funds, asset management, insurance, corporate and structured finance, treasury and trading.
The June issue of Finance Dublin features the return of inflation and what it means for financial services.
As a global guessing game begins about the outcome of June's interest rate hikes, we examine the possibilities and the potential impacts in the world of finance, looking particularly at corporate treasury, insurance, asset management and risk management, with the help of analyses by the Governor of the Central Bank (on insurance) and treasury experts from Bank of Ireland and BNP Paribas Ireland.
One of the key areas impacted by the uptick in inflation and interest rates is the Investment Funds and Asset Management industry, where volatile market conditions have become the norm in recent months, as reflected in the commentary provided in the latest Quarterly issue of the Finance Dublin Funds Monitor.
The Funds Monitor also examines ETF innovations, providing depositary services to crypto assets, the rapidly changing structure of the ManCo sector in Ireland, and a discussion of the latest milestone for the funds industry, Irish domiciled NAVs having surpassed the €4 trillion mark.
Elsewhere, the issue discusses mooted changes in Ireland's professional services firms, notably emanating from the 'Big Four'; Reforms to law, and compensation trends in an effort to make Ireland competitive again in the areas of Employers and Public Liability Insurance, as well as in Commercial Property insurance, in light of continued losses in those market segments revealed in newly published Central Bank research. Also featuring is the ECB's charm offensive in support of a digital euro, marked recently by a speech in Dublin by ECB Board member Fabio Panetta.
The May issue of Finance Dublin features the results of the Finance Dublin Deals of the Year Awards for 2022, recognising the most significant and noteworthy transactions in 2021 from the point of view of deal excellence in capital markets and corporate and institutional finance in Ireland.
The 42 deals recognised in the 2022 Awards are all profiled in the issue. They are listed out of a total of over 200 individual deals closed during the calendar year 2021 which were nominated in six broad categories: M&A, Debt, and Equity Capital Markets, Loans & Financing, and, Financial Services, including Aviation Finance.
They range in size across the economy, with the winning deal in the Mergers & Acquisitions Category, Aercap's merger with GECAS, to create the largest aircraft leasing company in the world, Aercap, which has already been able to show its resilience in the face of the global pandemic's impact on the aviation industry, and, most recently, the seizure of its assets in Russia, following the invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukraine reverberations are moving on, in leasing, for example into the insurance area, and beyond financial services sanctions to the question of economic sanctions, which now loom large. As the article on Russia's Central Bank indicates, the managed float that has maintained the value of the ruble is likely to require increasingly interventionist policies over time. Elsewhere, the issue examines the continued opportunities in Irish finance in all its aspects, from tax, to pensions, such as in the article by the CEO of the IAPF, to funds, insurance, aviation leasing, banking, and regulatory developments, such as EY's examination of the Central Bank's Guidance on Operational Resilience.
The central theme of the latest issue of Finance Dublin is the Ukraine invasion by Russia, and its potential long term consequences, many of which will be long lasting perhaps, indeed, for ever. That change is evident just in two examples in the past month - Germany's changed military stance, and the dissipation of hard Brexit sentiments that have been with us since the referendum of 2016.
Looking beyond the sanctions we can hope that a rejuvenated European Union will provide a prosperous and growing internal market that can see Irish international financial services grow from strength to strength.
Ireland's IFS and broader economy continues to surge ahead, and as evidenced by the pace of M&A in the sector, for example the acquisition of Global Shares the Cork based ESP fintech for $730 million by J.P.Morgan, and, the latest acquisition in the funds industry, of home grown fund administrator Centaur by Waystone, hot on the heels of its acquisition of KB Associates.
This month too, you may also note a step outside our normal parameters in Finance Dublin - a movie review - our review of Kenneth's Branagh's Oscar winning 'Belfast'. There are parallells between Branagh's Belfast story of his youth in the late 1960s, and today in Ukraine.
The latest issue of Finance Dublin lists the Nominations for the annual Finance Dublin Deals of the Year Awards. The deal nominations provide the most comprehensive picture available of the most significant deals across the Finance ecosystem in Ireland in 2021. They are listed on pages 20-25 of the issue, and are detailed in an in depth analysis, starting on Page 8 of the e-paper.
'Ireland for Finance':-
Our interview with Minister Sean Fleming on the Ireland for Finance Action Plan 2022 reveals the perspectives of the Government as it approaches a review of IFS policy, to coincide with the mid term of the 'Ireland for Finance' strategy 2019-2025. This month's edition of the Irish Tax Monitor flags unintended potential consequences arising from the proposed EU 'Unshell Directive', intended to counter the use of abusive tax structures. Also: a proposed big regulatory reform programme for the UK in the area of Solvency II.
Ireland's IFS sector is an integral part of the ecosystem supporting and enforcing the sanctions of the EU and its global partners in response to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions involve the Irish IFS and aviation finance sectors and are designed to achieve maximum effectiveness that limits the inevitable costs to sanctioning states and innocent parties, including, also, innocent Russian citizens. This means targeted effectiveness particularly aimed towards leveraging the degradation of the Russian war economy, and hastening its inevitable collapse, thereby shortening the war, and the Kremlin's ability to prolong it.
In the cover feature 'Words of the Year' 2021: how the language of finance is changing faster than ever', the latest issue analyses a series of new words that have emerged in the global finance lexicon in the past year, and how they might get to feature in the global, and Irish, discourse in 2022. Also, on Page 8 of the E-paper, we reveal our word of the year, for 2021, of special Irish financial and economic relevance.
It is not just words, and what they mean that we explore. We probe the deeper trends and meanings, and ask some iconoclastic questions about the trends that are in place at year end, in the bullish, post Covid, (hopefully), markets that are being priced in for 2022.