Scotland-Ireland financial collaboration strengthens

David Clarke

The Scottish Irish Finance Initiative (SIFI) will this week step up its efforts to strengthen collaboration between financial companies in Scotland and Ireland as Scottish Government Minister Kate Forbes travels to Dublin to address hundreds of senior investment management executives at the PwC EMEA Asset Management Conference on Friday.

David Clarke, founder and policy director of SIFI believes that financial companies in Scotland and Ireland have an obligation to seize the moment that Brexit presents.

Forbes will also meet representatives of Ireland’s financial industry and the Irish Government.

The aim of the visit, which has been organised in conjunction with SIFI, is to encourage cooperation, particularly within the funds industry, between Scotland, with about £800 billion of assets under management, and Ireland, one of Europe’s biggest fund servicing centres with about £4 trillion of assets under administration.

The visit follows on from a successful trade mission by Irish Minister Heather Humphreys to Scotland last month where she spoke to a combined meeting of Irish fintech companies and Scottish asset managers.

SIFI is an initiative, set up in 2017, to help the finance industries of Scotland and Ireland create more jobs, a wider range of financial services and healthier and more successful companies than the two locations would be able to achieve acting alone.

The initiative has two strands.

The first to help companies in the UK and Ireland continue to trade effectively after Brexit and the second is to help younger financial businesses, in particular those in fintech, to utilise the broader expertise and financial sector hinterland of both countries to develop better end-to-end solutions for the finance industry.

SIFI’s ultimate ambition is to create a new type of cluster, one that straddles borders, to establish an Atlantic finance-fintech corridor stretching across Scotland and Ireland.

Clarke said: “With Scottish asset managers, banks and insurers braced for barriers being erected between them and the lucrative EU market it’s critical for them to know that Ireland provides a receptive base for their European operations.

“Likewise for Irish and international businesses based in Ireland looking to sell into the UK post Brexit there is a centre of financial expertise with critical mass and a receptive pro-European culture only a 40 minute flight away.

“The raison d’être however is much broader than present political considerations, with the global finance industry facing a range of competitive and regulatory hurdles over coming years, as exemplified in the growth of fintech.

“Both countries have been successful to date on their own terms. In the future both will be challenged by regional and not national industry hubs.

“If Irish and Scottish businesses and policy makers by working together can bring more high-value jobs into our economies and spread even more wealth throughout our communities, we have an obligation to grasp this opportunity.

“This has been the core focus of our work to date and very much on the table in the series of meetings this week.”