Eoghan Murphy: State Street Advanced Technology Centre could make Cork a second city for financial services

Earlier this month, I officially opened the State Street Advanced Technology Centre at University College Cork. One of this Government’s key objectives is to facilitate the creation of high-value jobs in the financial services sector and to ensure that the benefits of such investment reach right across the State.

Our schools, colleges, and universities have a vital role to play in ensuring that the workforce is equipped with the skills required by companies looking to develop here and the technology centre at UCC is a great example of partnership between education and commerce.

State Street, an international bank with Irish operations in Dublin, Kilkenny, Drogheda and Naas, has joined forces with both UCC and a university in China to set up research and development facilities in both countries, aimed at developing programmes in the financial technology sector.

As the minister with responsibility for financial services, I am determined to put Ireland at the forefront of fintech. The Government must always look after the investment and jobs needs of the entire country.

It is vitally important that the benefits of the recovery that our careful stewardship of the economy has brought about are spread right across the country. Many areas of Ireland which had previously been blighted by emigration now have sustainable jobs for our highly-educated young workforce.

In Letterkenny, Pramerica, a technology unit of the US-based Prudential Finance, already employs 1,400 people and has plans to increase this tally to 1,800 by next summer. In Tralee, JRI America, set up in 2011, with the support of the IDA. It plans to expand further.

In Cork, Clearstream Global Securities Services provides hedge fund custodian services for 60 major financial institutions in more than 25,000 hedge funds.

While the benefits of recovery are all around us, there is no doubt that external factors, such as Brexit and the change of government in the US, have created a fluidity. Ensuring employment and investment in regional hubs has benefits to both workers and to the businesses.

As living costs, such as rent, tend to be lower outside the capital, wages are also somewhat lower. This feeds into higher levels of productivity. Central to our employment and fintech strategies is the importance that the Government attaches to developing regional financial services hubs which work hand-in-hand with educational institutes.

Since June, I have travelled to a number of locations with financial services enterprises, including Cork, Donegal, Kerry, Louth, and Kilkenny, and have met with IDA and Enterprise Ireland companies to listen to the needs of companies and their workers.

I intend to visit more fintech companies and the Department of Finance will continue to prioritise attracting financial services enterprises to the regions, in accordance with the Government’s regional action plans for jobs.

There are significant opportunities in financial services when it comes to Brexit. I am determined to ensure that people and communities up and down the country benefit from them. If these opportunities are significant — and I believe they are — there will be a need not just to grow our existing hubs and clusters, but to develop a second city for financial services.

Politically speaking, the decision where such a second city should be, would be a difficult decision for any government to make. But neither I nor the Government will stand in the way of any city which has this ambition for itself. More than that, we will assist wherever we can.

Eoghan Murphy TD is Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement.

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