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As formal Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK kicked off this week and the ESRI reported that a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit could cost Ireland up to €200m a year and result in 49,000 less jobs, the financial services sector continued to offer a silver lining.

After some initial setbacks when large insurers like AIG, RSA, Lloyds and QBE chose Luxembourg and Brussels for their new EU bases, there has been better news for Dublin in recent weeks. Beazley and Aviva plan to expand existing operations, Legal & General announced a new base here for its investment management division and most recently speciality insurer Chaucer said Dublin would be its EU headquarters. It was also reported that JP Morgan was looking for additional office space, to accommodate another 700 workers, over and above the 1,000 that will be based in its new offices currently under construction in the South Docklands.

At Accreate, we have been consistently, if cautiously, optimistic about the potential for the development of the financial services sector here in the wake of Brexit. This is because from day one we have seen a very significant number of enquiries from financial firms. Despite negative and ill-informed media reports that have focused on issues like infrastructure and the lack of international schools, the three key questions firms are concerned with are regulation, office space and the availability of talent.

Most firms we have spoken to intend to first relocate senior people from London who will then build out teams by way of local recruitment. They initially expressed concerns about their ability to access the right talent locally, reflecting an international perception that Ireland has not been particularly strong in the mainly middle and front office activities that may relocate here.

To allay these concerns, Accreate recently carried out detailed research on the availability of senior talent in a number of the key disciplines where it is anticipated there will be demand, in particular risk management, compliance, trading, technology and investment management. As part of this, we examined two potential pools of candidates for financial firms establishing or expanding in Ireland - candidates based in Ireland and Irish professionals currently overseas who may be looking to return here.

Overall, we found that there is very strong availability of senior talent across the disciplines examined, both in Ireland and among Irish professionals overseas. In particular, there is a large pool of senior professionals across risk, compliance, tech and investment in Ireland. The UK is the leading current location for Irish professionals overseas across the various disciplines. Furthermore, as Irish professionals abroad tend to be at an earlier stage of their careers, the increased availability of highly skilled financial services roles here post-Brexit may act as a real enticement for them to make the move back home.

Trading is the one discipline where there may be a constraint in Ireland as there has been a dearth of significant trading operations based here until relatively recently. However, compensating for this is the fact that there are a large number of Irish traders currently based overseas who constitute a potential candidate pool for companies looking to establish trading operations here.

For financial firms looking to locate here, our highly-skilled diaspora may be the ultimate ace in Ireland’s pack.

Articles by Lorraine Bolger