Address Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH) Bicentennial Celebration Dinner

20th September, 2018


 Good evening ladies and gentlemen.


I am delighted to be here with you this evening. 


I would like to thank Brown Brothers Harriman for inviting me to speak with you on this very special occasion when they celebrate what would be a significant milestone for any organisation, their bicentennial.


While we may have some way to go before we celebrate 200 years of international financial services in Ireland, we have a shared background with Brown Brothers in regard to the environment since the 1980s when Dublin’s docklands began to be transformed into the vibrant centre we see today. 


From just 60 staff in the 1980s to almost 42,000 people employed across the country today, Ireland’s growth in international financial services has been both rapid and impressive, and this is due in no small part to the success of the funds sector in Ireland.


The Government’s commitment to the IFS sector is reflected in our commitment to making the most of globalisation, to remaining open to the world, to remaining at the heart of the European Union and to further developing our mutually beneficial commercial relationship with the U.S.


We are also proud of the contribution that Irish entrepreneurs have made, and continue to make, in the US, such as one of the founders of Brown Brothers Harriman, Alexander Brown, who was originally from Ballymena.


His move to Baltimore in the 1800s and the subsequent setting up of Brown Brothers Harriman played an important role in the evolution of transatlantic and global trade, through investing in shipping, communications and technology, banking infrastructure, and other areas. 


We are pleased that today our economic relationship with the U.S. is more than ever a busy, two-way street.


Today, while U.S. firms employ 155,000 people in Ireland, Irish firms employ over 100,000 people in the U.S. Annual trade in goods and services between us is now worth over 100 billion US Dollars.


Over the last 23 years Brown Brothers Harriman has become a significant force in the funds sector in Ireland; employing over 220 people and servicing 280 billion dollars in Irish domiciled assets. They have contributed to the ongoing success of the funds industry in Ireland not least through their participation in many industry forums and working groups, including the Irish Funds Association, the Department of An Taoiseach Government Funds Working Group and the European Securities and Markets Authority. 


Capital Markets Union

I also wish to take the opportunity here today to speak briefly about the Capital Markets Union project.


I and my Lithuanian Colleague, Minister Šapoka, co-authored a paper on CMU which was co-signed by our fellow Nordic-Baltic Finance Ministers in July.


We all believe it is important that the European Union continues to focus on CMU and we should note that a number of initiatives have been completed in a relatively short space of time.


But, we must not be complacent.


The decision of the United Kingdom to leave the Union, while regrettable, must act as a catalyst to redouble our efforts to further develop and integrate our capital markets.


To that end, I reiterate the comments we made in the Paper that we must prioritise those parts of the CMU Action Plan with the largest impact, with the greatest support and that can be delivered within the life time of this Commission and Parliament.


The development of our capital markets must also take into account the need to ensure that Europe remains open to outside capital and expertise, which are both critical to achieving the objectives of CMU.   


Updates here at home

On the domestic front, as some of you will be aware, our Investment Limited Partnership (ILP) legislation is being updated to make it more relevant to today. 


We have engaged with all stakeholders and are continuing to work on the updated legislation. 


In tandem with updating the ILP, a number of technical changes are being made to the Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicle (ICAV) which will help to make the ICAV framework more efficient.


International Financial Services 2020 Strategy

As many in this room will no doubt be aware, we are now in the fourth year of our International Financial Services Strategy (IFS2020).


Against the backdrop of the increasingly competitive and dynamic international environment for financial services, our aim was to increase the numbers employed in the sector by 30% or 10,000 net new jobs by 2020.


We are on track to achieve this target with almost 7,000 net new jobs created in the first three years of the strategy.


The strength of IFS2020 lies in combining the talents, and experience of both our public and private sector stakeholders to ensure we have a consistent and focused approach to development.


International financial services is one of the most competitive and rapidly changing global industries.


It is for this reason that my colleague Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance, Michael D’Arcy secured Government approval to commence work on a successor strategy to IFS2020. 


Initial engagements have occurred with the key stakeholders who constitute the membership of the IFS2020 Industry and Public Sector Committees to start the thinking process about the future of IFS in Ireland. 


In essence, we are seeking to find out what worked well under IFS2020 and what could have been improved. 


We are also seeking to identify emerging opportunities and challenges over the coming 5 – 7 years.  We need to be able to maintain and grow our existing IFS sector by exploiting opportunities and meeting any emerging challenges in this very dynamic and very competitive sector. 


In addition to working with the IFS2020 Committee architecture, Minister D’Arcy will shortly be launching a public consultation process and I would welcome each and every one of you here this evening to feed your views into this. 


IFS2020 was a strategy developed between the public and private stakeholders involved in IFS and we hope to do the same for the new strategy. 


It is a great opportunity to input your views and ideas in to a new strategy which will be important for the development of IFS over the coming five to seven years.



Before I conclude I’d like to briefly mention the fourth annual European Financial Forum which is due to take place on 13 February 2019 in Dublin Castle.


The forum has gone from strength to strength since it was launched in 2016 and has now become a flagship event on the financial services calendar.


A number of high profile speakers have been confirmed for 2019 including; An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar; Raphael Bostic, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Anne Finucane, Vice Chair of Bank of America; and Carl Tannenbaum; Chief Economist at Northern Trust.


We expect further announcements regarding speakers in the coming months and I have no doubt that this fourth edition of the EFF will build upon the success of previous editions.


As with the new IFS strategy, I would welcome any ideas on the EFF along with any suggested topics to be covered and possible speakers.  I also, of course, hope to see you all at the event.




I would like to conclude by wishing Brown Brothers Harriman every success for the future and thank them for their commitment to Ireland.