IFSC tumbles down league table of financial centres

DUBLIN’S standing as a financial services centre has fallen dramatically in the past 12 months, according to a new report.

Statistics from the Global Financial Centres Index show the IFSC’s ranking has plummeted to 23rd place from 10th place in 2008.

A key speaker at a Dublin City Council seminar on the future of the centre yesterday called for urgent action. That will require a significant improvement in the business environment, which itself will need a focus on rebuilding the strength of ‘brand Ireland’, said Professor Michael Mainelli of London-based think-tank Z/Yen. Dublin must “continue to nurture the insurance industry and investigate the potential to utilise tax advantages and current strengths as a trusted or ‘long finance’ centre working with national and international governments,” he said.

Dublin City manager John Tierney said the capital stands as an economy in its own right and is “the engine of the Irish economy”. He said the financial services sector is an important element of the city’s economy.

“We need to be able to understand the issues facing this sector if it is to remain competitive globally,” Mr Tierney said.

Willie Slattery, executive vice president of State Street Corporation, said some aspects of the business environment have shown considerable improvement.

Falling labour costs on top of “dramatically lower occupancy costs” have brought about significant positive change, he said. He said the country’s lower tax base was key to “international attractiveness for financial services”.

A key issue for traded services sectors, including the financial area, is the tax environment for workers. “When much of the senior management in certain high value added sectors in financial services are non-Irish born and when 60% of the employees of companies such as Google and Facebook are not Irish born, the attractiveness of our income tax environment is critical to our competitiveness as a location,” said Mr Slattery.

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