Irish financial services can grow business in Asia 'by playing to our strengths'

There are great opportunities for the financial services sector in Ireland to grow business in Asia -- but it has to be in a way that resonates with Asian firms, writes Pádraig Hoare.

That was the message from Asia Matters executive director Martin Murray at the Global Asia Matters business summit in Dublin, which heard about the opportunities available for Irish firms.

A strategic report will be compiled to develop a new brand for Ireland’s financial services targeted at Asia, the summit heard.

The report is a project involving Asia Matters -- Ireland’s only think tank on Asia -- and PwC.

ánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD,Minister and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation; Alan Dukes, Chairman, Asia Matters; H.E. Dr Yue Xiaoyong, Ambassador of the People's Republic Of China in Ireland ; and Colin Ellis, Chief Economist, Moody’s at the Global Asia Matters Business Summit 2017

It will assist the work of the Department of Finance, IFS Ireland – Ireland’s international financial services brand – and dovetail with the IFS 2020 strategy.

The IFS 2020 strategy is a whole of Government approach to driving the growth and development of international financial services in Ireland.

Mr Murray, a Cork native, said it planned to engage its members in order to establish how best to refocus Ireland’s financial services successful offering in the US to target the growing Asian market.

“IFS Ireland has been very successful in attracting business from the US. There are great opportunities for the financial services sector in Ireland to grow business in Asia but we need to amend and tailor our offering in a way that resonates with Asian firms,” he said.

Mr Murray said Asia Matters believed in “playing to our strengths” and that it would engage with key stakeholders “in the financial powerhouses of Japan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore” to produce a new Asian initiative for branding and developing Ireland’s financial services offering.

He added: “IFS Ireland boasts 400 plus companies, employing 38,000 people. Ireland is the fourth largest exporter in the EU of financial services and we are world leaders in aviation leasing and finance and growing significantly across other sectors, including managed funds and insurance.”

PwC Ireland head of tax, Joe Tynan said the latest survey from Asia indicated that business leaders are intent on pressing ahead with investment plans.

Citing the just published survey by PwC of 1,400 business leaders in Asia, he said that 71% of CEOs expect to rely more on business partnerships/joint ventures in the future.

“This is good news for Ireland as (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) business leaders are looking increasingly for opportunities outside of their region," he added.

Mr Tynan said the survey was encouraging in that it highlights Asia Pacific chief executives’ appetite for global investment and bilateral trade.

“Having developed as a regional hub for EU/US trade, Ireland can become a global trading hub and a gateway from Asia to the EU and the US. With a population of in excess of 4.4 billion, Asia provides great opportunities for Ireland to grow its current exports, which currently stand at 11% of our total exports,” he said.

He added that in a post-Brexit world, Ireland can also provide direct access for Asian companies to an EU market of over 500 million consumers.

The EU respects China's World Trade Organisation (WTO) status and with several EU/Asian trade agreements already in place, Ireland is perfectly located as a global hub for Asia to Europe and the US,” Mr Tynan said.

During its 2017 half-term review, Asia Matters revealed it increased its membership by 33% year on year and by 69% over the preceding 18 months.

Established five years ago, Asia Matters has become the “go-to” organisation in its field, said Mr Murray, who anticipates further growth.

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