TODAY’S announcement of 200 new jobs in Clearstream in Cork can be just the start of a boom in the Financial Services (FS) sector for the city and surrounding region.
The IDA announced the jobs this morning, describing them a ‘great news for Cork, for the south-west region.’ A spokesperson for the group believes the sector can aspire to provide up to 5,000 jobs in the region by 2025.
Kieran Donoghue, Head of International Financial Services, Strategy & Public Policy with the IDA, said there is ‘significant potential in Cork.’
“Outside Dublin, the Cork region has been the best-performing region for FDI nationally. If you look since 2014, our portfolio there has grown by more than 20%. International investors are already sending a signal through their reinvestment in the Cork region. The potential is high,” he said.
“Particularly with respect to financial services, there are a lot of well-known clients there already. We have this new announcement which is further evidence of the attractiveness of the region.”
Mr Donoghue paid tribute to the work of Cork Chamber to help attract investment.
Eoin Motherway, Chair of Cork Chamber’s Financial Services Forum, said he is confident that further growth can be expected in Cork’s financial services centre in the coming years.
“Cork Chamber’s Financial Services Forum is comprised of members that represent the wide depth and breadth of the FS sector in the region, as well as local agencies,” he said.
“Our forum also includes the third level education providers, that between them are graduating over 1,000 students, including in finance, FinTech, blockchain, cryptocurrency, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
“For the past 18 months, we have collaborated closely to put Cork on the map as an international financial services location.”
Mr Donoghue also highlighted the importance of the Cork colleges and the graduates they provide.
“The colleges have a huge role to play; both UCC and CIT are a source of skills for the industry,” he said.
“I think the Cork region, in particular, has a very strong reputation in the business sector. The business schools are highly regarded and the fact that there are the two specialist units, UCC’s Financial Services Innovation Centre and the Governance Risk and Compliance Technology Centre, just makes the region even more attractive because potential investors are saying the universities have a curriculum and a research agenda which is aligned with our needs, it is a good place to be.”
He said that although Brexit brings risks for the industry, it also offers significant opportunity. “A lot of international FS services firms currently based in London, they are not going to leave the UK completely, but the EU-facing piece of their business needs to be moved,” he said.
“And a lot of those firms are saying that a logical place to go would be across the Irish sea to Ireland —- it is close to London, preserves market access to the EU, preserves regulatory passporting and there are a lot of other advantages.
Over the last 18 months, we have had more than 100 inquiries from FS firms, looking at Ireland and we have had Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and others all declare for Ireland. Obviously, Cork would be one of the most appealing regions.
“Their initial point of entry will probably be Dublin but over time, as these groups expand, many of them will look to put other functions outside Dublin. That is where Cork will gain.”
In order to take full advantage of the opportunities, the IDA stress the importance of Cork showing a clear vision of its future development.
“Increasingly what is attracting firms to Ireland isn’t tax, it is the possibility of being able to hire and retain very good people,” Mr Donoghue said.
“That means the availability, affordability of housing is crucial, as is infrastructure, the availability of commercial real estate, broadband connectivity, air connections are all important.
“I know Cork has ambitious plans for Tivoli and the Docks. Get that right and develop the city and environs in an attractive, modern way — I think investors could really flock there.
“With its river location and location to the sea, Cork has all the building blocks, it has an awful lot going for it.”
Mr Donoghue is taking part in a seminar on the FS sector this Friday in the Clayton Hotel. The International Financial Services Southern Cluster — ‘Towards 5,000 jobs by 2025’ will also be attended by Tánaiste Simon Coveney and representatives from education and business in the region.