Finance / Ireland

Can Dublin become the EU’s next finance hub?

Brexit creates serious uncertainities for financial players in London wishing to ensure access to the single market.

Can Dublin become the EU’s next finance hub?

The success of Britain’s ‘Leave’ campaign has spurred a race among the EU’s most influential cities to take the reigns from London as the bloc’s de facto financial capital. Alongside Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, Dublin is a top contender for the role due to the city’s English-speaking faculties, strong academic reputation, affordable cost of living and competitive taxation scheme. Irish business leaders are now readying themselves for yet another wave of large-scale investment, this time from high finance.

Brexit’s most-affected industry will be banking. As these institutions stare down mounting political uncertainty, the underlining question will be how to ensure their seamless access to the EU’s integrated financial markets, as well as the confidence that regulatory oversight of the European Central Bank provides their global operations. Ireland’s proximity to London in geography, language and culture are making Dublin a popular choice. Irish officials have reported that as of late August 2016, they have received inquiries from over 100 London-based financial groups that are considering opening up an office in Dublin. “We have seen a significant increase in the amount of inquiries in all of our offices across the globe,” says Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA, Ireland’s foreign investment agency. “Much of these inquiries have been from North American companies who have invested in the UK, but now believe they may need an alternative location within the EU.” As of May, JP Morgan became the first major bank to chose Dublin as one of the cities to relocate hundreds of bankers.

While grabbing opportunities, Ireland nonetheless acknowledges the severity of Brexit. “Brexit is not what we hoped for,” says Shanahan. “Nobody can say what level of access the UK will have, but we suppose that they will take a very hard line with what they’re willing to compromise in order to gain access to the EU’s single market. This uncertainty has put Ireland on everybody’s list.”