Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Chairman of the Federation of International Banks in Ireland (FIBI), I’m very pleased to welcome you all to our annual lunch. We are honoured to have as our guest speaker William De Vijlder, Group Chief Economist with BNP Paribas Bank. We are also very pleased to have among our invited guests, Minister Michael D’Arcy, Minister of State at the Department of Finance; and Deputy Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance.
We are living and operating in very challenging times. Many of the factors which could impact on our financial, economic and social welfare are, worryingly, quite negative and beyond our control. These include international trade wars, negative interest rates, Brexit, political uncertainty and questions around the effectiveness of monetary and fiscal policies. I know that William will touch on these matters in his address later; and while we can’t expect him to have any ‘magic wand’ solutions to offer, I’m confident that we will benefit from his insights.
Over the next few minutes I would like to focus briefly on two important drivers that are within our control and which the Ireland for Finance strategy has identified as priorities in the promotion of Ireland as a world-leading location for international financial services. Let me at the outset commend the Minister and his officials for the very valuable work undertaken in producing this strategy; and to reassure him as to our commitment and support in helping to deliver on its recommendations.
We firmly believe that regular, constructive engagement with senior-level regulators and policy makers is in everyone’s interests. Which is why the Strategy’s recommendation on the establishment of a Central Bank Stakeholder Engagement Group is so very welcome. Based on our own research of international best practice in this area across a range of EU Member States, we have identified key features for this Stakeholder Engagement Group as follows:
- It should be established on a statutory basis and overseen by the Central Bank of Ireland
- It should provide a cross-sectoral strategic engagement structure which is two-way in nature and is supported by independent external surveying
- It should provide advice and feedback to assist the Central Bank in fulfilling its obligations, consistent with the Bank’s own strategic plan
- Comprising the CEOs or Chairs of the main industry representative bodies, it should meet quarterly.
We have tabled these proposals for careful consideration and hope that they can be adopted and acted upon in the foreseeable future.
On another front, we were tasked under the Ireland for Finance strategy to lead on the establishment of a Fintech Foresight Group. I’m pleased to report that we have already facilitated a series of stakeholder workshops. These have brought together interests from international and domestic banking, global technology companies, indigenous fintechs, third-level institutions as well as public sector representatives. By common consent the workshops have proved very useful in assessing current global trends that influence financial services – including machine learning, big data analytics, blockchain, regtech and mobile payments; and in evaluating how well Ireland is positioned to exploit these trends and what future opportunities Ireland should pursue by leveraging these technologies. We plan to shortly deliver a report on our findings to the Minister for consideration in the context of future policy.
I will leave my remarks at that and invite you to sit back and enjoy your lunch. I wish to express a sincere word of thanks to Matheson for their continued support for this event. I will be back to you straight after the main course to introduce William De Vijlder to you. Thank you for your kind attention.