Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster showcased a depth of collaboration at the home of Irish unicorn, TransferMate.

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Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster showcased a depth of collaboration at the home of Irish unicorn, TransferMate.

  • Ireland’s South East is home to the largest cohort of International Financial Services outside of Dublin with over 70 companies collaborating through the cluster
  • The industry-led cluster has ambitious plans for the future of financial services in the region
  • Growing sub-sectors include paytech, asset management, fund administration and regtech
  • Upwards of 10,000 people are employed across the financial services (FS) ecosystem in the region 

At the recent Ireland for Finance Showcase the Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster demonstrated a depth of collaboration already in place between industry, academia, research, and government. With the Government targeting an additional 5,000 jobs within the international financial services sector by 2026, the South East is well placed to attract a high proportion of that high calibre talent. The industry-led cluster has ambitious plans for the future of financial services in the region and is well equipped with an awarded Priming Grant funding under the Regional Enterprise Innovation Scoping Scheme (REISS) 2022 with Enterprise Ireland. The Financial Services project aims to anchor a cluster facility and to build out a Fintech Centre of Excellence (FTCoE), located in Kilkenny, and linked with South East Technological University and the Walton Institute.

The showcase event was addressed by Seán Fleming TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance who outlined the detail of the thematic update to the Ireland for Finance strategy with an increased focus on regionalisation, diversity, fintech and sustainable finance. 

Speaking at the event Minister Seán Fleming shared:

 “The emergence of the regions as a force in the international financial services sector has been a vital element in the development of the industry. The growth in financial services employment outside of Dublin, is a key factor behind Ireland’s success. Investors in regions like the South East get to benefit from the deep talent and competitiveness that it has to offer.”

Welcoming the attendees, Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster Champion Terry Clune, CEO and founder of CluneTech, which hosted the event, highlighted the power of Clustering and noted that this is a golden age for the South East, with both indigenous industry and the multinational sector increasing their presence in the region.

“The opportunity that the Cluster provides for start-ups and established businesses to connect with each other, share ideas and foster innovation is invaluable” he said. “This is illustrated by the growth of our Financial Services Cluster from just six companies to over 70 in less than three years.”

Keynote speaker, Eddie Jordan -former racing driver turned businessman and founder and former owner of the Jordan Grand Prix team, joined the event virtually from Monaco and instilled valuable lessons to recognise that “Your network is your net worth”. 

Cluster Champion Terry Clune shared an impressive suite of global companies, which includes Irelands latest tech unicorn TransferMate, all headquartered in the region, and noted the importance of creating jobs that will attract talent to the region and provide opportunities for career development.

Neighbouring goliaths State Street shared their history in Ireland, reason for choosing Ireland South East and future development plans, presented by Senior Global staff and local staff led by Cathal Smyth, Managing Director, General Manager State Street Kilkenny,  Terri Dempsey Chief Operating Officer at State Street and finally a virtual attendee Ann Fogarty. A Tipperary native, Ann is the Executive Vice President and Head of Global Delivery at State Street. Ann is responsible for State Street’s custody, middle office, transfer agency and client service operations. She is also part of State Street Management Committee. 

Cluster Manager, Catriona Murphy emcee’d the event and shared:

For regional economies clusters generate more jobs, higher wages, higher economic growth, better productivity, higher levels of innovation, more start-ups, more survival, grounded scale-ups, and attract more investment and most important today – more talent. Local government is critical to our cluster success, when I meet with international cluster managers, and they learn how five local authorities, through the Ireland South East Development Office, have collaborated to form a cluster they are amazed – and then of course I share how our region is Europe’s number one FDI Strategy – European Region of the Future. The opportunities for the Financial Services sector are tangible today and we recognise that it is local government collaboration at the foundation of this success.”

Enterprise Ireland recently approved funding to support the development of a business plan for a new Fintech Centre of Excellence in the South-East. 

Speaking at the showcase, Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Director for the South and South-East Martin Corkery said:

“The South-East region has a vibrant and growing financial services enterprise base.  There is significant potential to build on this base, improving the resilience, innovation capability and export opportunities for this cluster to the benefit of the South-East Region.”  

Brian McGee of IDA, South East Technological University Vice President for External Affairs Kathryn Kiely and virtual guest speakers Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Pat Fitzpatrick; Kevin Doolin Executive Director at the Walton Institute; Regional Skills Forum Chairperson Lar Conroy and Regional Skills Forum Manager Edmond Connolly – a united message echoed throughout the event.  

Ireland for Finance

Ireland for Finance is the whole-of-government strategy for the further development of Ireland’s international financial services sector involving public-private collaboration. The Government recently launched an update of the Ireland for Finance strategy and extended the period to end 2026. The overall vision is to grow and expand Ireland, in a sustainable manner, as a premier European financial centre and a location of choice for specialist international financial services.
The update of the Ireland for Finance strategy focuses around five main themes for growth:
1. Sustainable finance
2. Fintech and Digital finance
3. Diversity and talent
4. Regionalisation and promotion
5. Enhancing the operating environment
The Ireland for Finance Strategy is implemented through annual action plans that are prepared by the Department of Finance on foot of proposals for action measures from stakeholders in the public and private sectors. Developing the regions as drivers of growth for the sector are a key theme in the updated strategy.

Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster

This cluster kicked off its ignition phase in February 2020. Arising from the Regional Economic Development Plan, directed by Ireland South East Development Office, supported, and funded by the five local authorities of Wexford, Waterford, Carlow,
Kilkenny, and Tipperary.
The cluster totals over 70 members; 40 enterprise companies made up of 23 indigenous firms – of these 11 are start-ups or SME members and a further 17 are FDI’s. The diversity of these industry firms and the supporting agencies, government
and academia underpins the success of this cluster to date. Our cluster is aligned with the strategy for the development of Ireland’s international financial services sector – Ireland for Finance Strategy 2026, particularly the
regionalisation, diversity, and digital and sustainable finance themes within this strategy.

FinTech Centre of Excellence (FTCoE)
With Ireland recognised as a global financial services and technology hub, Ireland South East continues to build on its long-established record in these sectors, with homegrown Ireland South East success stories including TransferMate, Bluefin,
Accelerated Payments, Sprintax, Sedicii, Taxback International, Immedis, UBO Services, and Fund Recs, operating alongside national-based firms and global financial services giants in areas such as money transfer and payments, lending,
wealth management, crowdfunding, distribution ledger technology and digital currencies. The region is powerfully placed to benefit from the strong bases in both sectors.
Innovative support for start-ups through the Fintech Centre of Excellence (FTCoE) will be underpinned by the cluster network as a research and educational think tank which brings together educators, researchers and global pioneers in financial
technology and digital finance to address the unique opportunities, risks and strategic priorities posed by financial technology for incumbents, disruptors, service providers and advisers.
The FTCoE will be positioned to be at the forefront of this new shift in financial services and delve into current issues surrounding the customer experience and a variety of topics including merger acquisitions, regulatory impact, AI, blockchain,
cryptocurrency and cross-border issues impacted by the rise of fintech. Through the FTCoE the collaborative cluster network will seek to provide the tools and frontier research to regulators, financial institutions, and governments in emerging areas such as Open Banking, Privacy, and the role of Artificial Intelligence in financial services.

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