In March, the Irish Government published its International Financial Services sector's strategy for 2015-2020 (IFS2020). A central tenet of IFS2020 is to ensure that the IFS sector continues to grow and advance along the journey of transformation into the 21st century, with renewed commitment and support from Government for the sector.

IFS sectors include; Aircraft Leasing and Financing, Banking & Payments; Insurance and Reinsurance; Investment Funds; and Capital Markets. Each of these sectors constitutes a key component of our Financial Services practice and expertise.

The aim and vision outlined in IFS2020 is for Ireland to attain the status of global leader for specialist international financial services by utilising Ireland's strengths in "talent, innovation and excellent client service", whilst adhering to exemplary standards of governance and adapting to an ever-changing marketplace, with a goal of maximising emerging opportunities.

The priorities and actions outlined in IFS2020 indicate a real commitment from the Irish Government to ensure that Ireland's international financial sector continues to thrive, grow and evolve. It is an extremely ambitious, but necessary, strategy. Today's leading international financial services companies will have to evolve and adapt in order to maintain and retain competitive edge and market leading position for the future. For this reason, the IFS2020 is seen as a welcome strategy to support and assist the international financial service sector to 2020 and beyond.

IFS2020 in Summary

The 5 strategic priorities have been set out in IFS2020 along with specific individual actions and are summarised below.

Priority 1: Promoting Ireland as a location for International Financial Services

The first priority is to actively promote and market Ireland as a high quality location of choice for Foreign Direct Investment for financial service firms, which will contribute to sectoral development and economic activity.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and its enterprise development agencies have been tasked with the development of IFS as a sector. Working collaboratively, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland will play a direct and crucial role in reaching the target of creating 10,000 net new jobs.

Priority 2: Improving the operational environment and competitiveness

IFS2020 will focus on talent and infrastructure development and on additional measures that will assist Ireland's competitiveness profile for IFS companies. This will involve the establishment of 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.  

Priority 3: Driving research, innovation & entrepreneurship in the IFS sector including Fintech

This priority is focused primarily on two connected areas, namely (1) driving research, development and innovation within existing financial services firms, and (2) FinTech (technology applied to financial services).

Existing firms will be encouraged to invest in research, development and innovation with particular emphasis on the potential impact in delivering economic and social benefits. Increased emphasis will be put on sourcing both domestic and international funding for FinTech companies, with one of the key objectives being the facilitation of introductions to investor ready companies.

Priority 4: Develop job-creation opportunities: Funds Services Cluster and Capital Markets Forum

The total value of assets currently under management in Ireland through Financial Vehicle Corporations has been reported at €395.9bn, based on the Central Bank's data for Q2 20141.

By clustering Ireland's established and emerging firms in the Financial Services Industry, Ireland has the opportunity to place itself at the forefront of Fund Services.  With the help and guidance of bodies such as the Governance Risk and Compliance Technology Centre, Ireland can fully realise its potential to be the centre for global Fund Services.

IFS2020 will aim to construct a securitisation forum, to aid Ireland's growth in three distinct areas: 

  1. Promoting Ireland as the European centre of excellence for securitisation techniques and products;
  2. Providing "leading edge" courses in securitisation thereby fostering and developing the depth of knowledge and skill base around securitisation; and
  3. Creating a programme to harmonise Ireland with EU programmes that directly affect the growth of the securitisation industry.

The European Commission published a Green Paper on building a Capital Markets Union (18 February 2015) and then opened a consultation process. The aim of the EU Commission is to build a true single market for capital – a Capital Market Union (CMU) for all 28 Member States. This CMU will require a level of engagement and support from all member states and its inclusion in IFS2020 represents the importance of the future of CMU for Irish based IFS entities and Ireland generally.

Priority 5: Implementation Framework for IFS2020

IFS2020's aims to foster a close relationship between heads of the key Government departments and agencies working in partnership with key industry stakeholders.  The IFS2020 outlines that the "...implementation arrangements will be responsive, action-oriented, flexible and characterised by high quality dialogue and engagement between the public and private sectors based on the shared goal of driving economic growth, jobs, investment and exports in the sector."


We have a market-leading practice in IFS sectors of Aircraft Leasing and Financing, Banking & Payments; Insurance and Reinsurance; Investment Funds and Capital Markets as well as a pre-eminent Technology Law practice which supports Fintech enterprises both new and existing.

This article is not intended to be comprehensive of IFS2020 and is a summary only. If you require further information on IFS2020, please contact Christine O'Donovan, Partner and Head of Financial Services, or your usual contact in the firm.


1.See Central Bank of Ireland

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.