Sunday 18 February 2018

IFSC: Insiders call for a Tsar figure to promote tarnished centre globally

Joe Brennan

ONE of the greatest challenges the IFSC faces is addressing the "mystique about what is going on down there. There is a clear need for some sort of central figure or agency to go out and explain what the centre is about and market it internationally," Dermot O'Leary of Goodbody Stockbrokers said.

A number of private-sector bodies in the Taoiseach's IFSC Clearing House Group have been pushing for the past year for the appointment of an IFSC "tsar" to rebrand and promote the centre, at a time when Dublin's standing in the league of top international financial centres is slipping.

Dublin dropped 13 places to 23rd late last year in the Global Financial Centres index, largely as a result of rival centres in Asia muscling in on the action. The industry is working on a plan to set out how such an office would work and liaise with state bodies, including the IDA.

The IDA has been concerned that there is only a short window to win new business, as global financial groups go through restructuring as a result of the crisis. Observers say the appointment of a tsar is all the more critical since Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's planned roadshow to lure North American business has been put on ice as he undergoes cancer treatment.

An Irish Management Institute report, resulting from last autumn's economic forum at Farmleigh, Dublin, said a prominent IFSC ambassador would help reposition the centre, which has had its image tarnished by turmoil in the domestic banking sector.


Advocates of such an office highlight that the City of London has a lord mayor, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Junker is the point-man for the grand duchy's financial centre, while the city-state of Singapore's financial watchdog has a full-on marketing function.

The IFSC has had its own reputational issues over the past decade, including the Cologne Re scandal, the demise of two funds of Germany's Sachsen LB and a Berlin-orchestrated bailout of Dublin-based Depfa Bank in September 2008.

“Whether the reputational issue is justified or not, it needs to be tackled head-on,” said the corporate financier.

“The IFSC needs a massive marketing boost to show that domestic regulatory reform is top of the agenda and that the centre is open for business."

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