There are yet higher standards of excellence to be achieved in the delivery of financial services both nationally and internationally, as indicated in the new Minister of State’s agenda as outlined in her interview in this issue (page 8). But that is only part of the story. It is not just about achieving excellence, and it is not just about earning money, which undoubtedly comes from achieving excellence.
The Minister does emphasise money in her interview as in there being no money tree out there (a traditional Department of Finance view). The Irish state has always had to go out there and through FDI earn the money that pays for public services. Any politician emphasising this is both honest, realistic and an asset to the nation. Coming from a politician who has a strong record to date in humanitarian issues, for example promoting the causes of women and weaker segments of society such as those with autism, and new, as she points out, to financial services promotion, this has all the more credibility.
Her brief includes credit unions, and insurance, topics that provide important agendas for addressing deficiencies that the financial services industry has come up short on.
Housing finance gets all the publicity these days (Niall Corrigan’s review from EY is a good overview of what’s happening in the mortgage market right now) – possibly because it is a problem that cannot quickly be resolved – especially following the Covid crisis and its effect on housebuilding and supply chains. There are other areas that can be kick started too that can deliver tangible benefits for citizens, and in shorter timeframes. Private sector pensions is one of those areas, and John Lyons writes (page 12) on innovative reforms that can be added as we go to create a potentially revolutionary change in security affecting the entire private workforce, an area in the remit of Carroll MacNeill’s colleague Heather Humphreys.
The overall financial services agenda as we enter the early stages of an exciting year of opportunity is very challenging, but that is good – because meeting and addressing those challenges means that good things will come of winning and surmounting those challenges.
Right across the FS sector there are huge challenges facing us. There is a very ambitious and, some might think, onerous regulatory agenda coming down the track – CSRD, as referenced in the GLOSSARY this month (page 11) is one of them.
So is the SEAR agenda, and, the multifarious ESG agenda, which from now on begins to get more serious than it has been, as ‘greenwashing’ gets called out, helped not just by shareholder activism in the funds industry, for example, but regulatory reach as well.
The minister’s legal credentials are clearly on display in her interview, and her insights on the common law agenda and the Ireland for Law Agenda are acute, constructive and accordingly provides an exciting prospect for the delivery of some real achievements in her term of office.