70% of firms expect to see growth in 2024 – new FIBI Report on the international banking sector in Ireland 

20th March 2024

Posted In: FYI

A new report published today by the Federation of International Banks in Ireland (FIBI) shows that 70% of FIBI member firms expect to see growth in their Irish operations in 2024. More than 40% of FIBI firms also expect to increase the number of people employed in 2024 and invest further in technology and innovation here.

This is despite the majority (73%) said they face challenges accessing talent with key skills, while 64% have identified the increasing regulatory requirements as the greatest challenge for the sector in the next five years.

A significant contributor to the Irish economy and employment

Highlighting the key findings of the report, Fernando Vicario, Chair of FIBI and CEO of Bank of America Europe DAC and Country Executive for Ireland said: “The international financial services sector in Ireland has grown to become a significant contributor to the Irish economy as well as establishing itself as a major European and global hub for international banking and investment firms.

Employment in FIBI member firms rose by almost 18% between 2019 and 2024, to over 14,400 employees. Furthermore, 43% of FIBI member firms expect employee numbers to grow again this year.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, foreign-owned financial, business and other services firms now spend €5.3 billion directly in the Irish economy each year.”

Funding to Irish corporates reached €15 billion in 2023

Mr. Vicario added: “International banks also provide major funding to the Irish economy, with total outstanding private-sector loans reaching around €15 billion at the end of 2023. This lending supports Irish corporates in running their day-to-day businesses and in capital projects to develop their operations both in Ireland and abroad, supporting firms in a wide range of sectors.”

Ireland has become an important centre for technology and innovation in banking

Looking at emerging trends in the sector, Mr. Vicario stated:

“Ireland has become an important centre for technology in banking with a number of international banks setting up innovation hubs or labs here, harnessing the evolving blockchain and AI technologies and attracting significant numbers of highly trained staff.

91% survey respondents expect to increase their spend on technology and innovation over the next two years while 68% of respondents have increased the number of staff working on technology and innovation and plan to increase staff levels still further in the next two years. These firms are using their Irish technology teams to develop innovations which are deployed across their global operations.” 

The challenges of increasing regulatory requirements and talent shortages

“While the overall outlook remains positive, the industry in Ireland, as it does globally, faces some challenges, not least in the areas of regulation and availability of talent. The increasing regulatory requirements including the Individual Accountability Framework / Senior Executive Accountability Regime (IAF/SEAR), the finalisation of Basel III, and new non-financial reporting requirements are placing increased pressure on firms in the sector and their employees.

While Ireland has one of the most highly skilled and best educated workforces in the world, the buoyant economy in Ireland has proved to be a double-edged sword when it comes to talent availability.

Indeed, 73% of survey respondents reported that they had experienced or expected to experience difficulties accessing talent in the most in demand skillsets such as regulatory and compliance, digital skills, risk management and sustainable finance.”

Government and regulators must continue to collaborate with industry to ensure positive operating environment

Mr. Vicario concluded: “While the responses to our survey and the ongoing success of the international banking and investment industry here in Ireland give cause for confidence that the sector will continue to make a major contribution to economic and employment growth in Ireland, we cannot afford to take anything for granted. International financial services investment is mobile by its very nature. Against that backdrop, we welcome the Government and the regulators’ continued collaboration with the industry to ensure the operating environment remains as positive as possible and that Ireland remains a key European and global financial hub for banking and investment firms into the future.”