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Tuesday, 23rd April 2024
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Mr. Financial Services Back  
Brendan Logue of the IDA tackles recruiting staff in the financial services sector, and in his own office.
7.15am At the front door of our house in Julianstown I say goodbye to my wife Mary for the day. In a couple of minutes I’m passing the railway station in Gormanston where I normally take the train into town but since the rail strike even the traffic is preferable to the horrors of the rail commute.

Rail strikes apart, the question of Ireland’s infrastructure deficit is becoming an issue in attracting inward investment especially the achievement of national objectives for the regionalisation of industrial development. Lack of office accommodation and labour tightness are also obstacles in my own sector but otherwise we have a very attractive package to offer the world financial industry.
David Hanley’s gravelly voice put paid to these thoughts and diverts my mind to other peoples’ problems.

8.15am I’m at my desk switching on my electronic shackle - essential equipment especially when dealing with an international network of offices and clients. I read my mails and make a ‘to do’ list.

8.20am Wes arrives with the papers (Irish Times and FT) and usually has a witty, well thought out comment on the day’s main story. I read the first half of the Times but usually don’t open the FT till later. I make a note to follow up on a story from yesterday that the German authorities are introducing a tax change which will give preferential tax treatment to their domestic mutual funds at the expense of foreign funds. This is contrary to EU law so we need to have this in our armoury of topics when international issues are being dealt with. The FT is essential reading for anyone working in financial services because the international regulatory and tax situation is changing rapidly.

8.45am Down to work reading the CVs for the five interviews I have scheduled for later in the morning. We are hoping to select a replacement for one of our three IFSC sector specialists - in this case the insurance sector which is one of the fastest growing areas of the international financial industry. It is also a difficult area requiring a knowledge of the Life, Non-Life, Reinsurance and Captive Management sectors. People who work in IDA promoting this and the other sectors must have personal credibility when dealing at very senior levels in the international financial scene.

9.30am I start to draft a section of the forthcoming government guide to doing financial e-business from Ireland. I am working on this with Michael d’Souza of Merrill Lynch (who is a member of the Taoiseach’s Clearing House Committee) and John Shaw of the Department. This time it is a paragraph on the Irish withholding tax regime. We will later get sign-off on this from the Department of Finance and Revenue. E-business is starting to revolutionise the way many financial transactions are handled internationally and there are many issues to do with infrastructure, regulation and taxation which institutions need to know about when choosing a domicile for their project. We hope to have this comprehensive statement of Government policy on the sector published by September.

10.00am I start the interviews with Niamh Dempsey of our personnel department. After two and a half hours we agree we have one potentially good candidate. I always take a lot of trouble in selecting people. Usually it pays off in the long term. The question of staff turnover is one we are constantly dealing with in the financial services section. A major problem is that it takes quite a while for a new staff member to become competent in a particular sector and these skills are often lost by internal and external staff turnover.

12.30pm I’m back at my desk where a list of messages is awaiting attention. One is urgent - an important client is planning the celebration of their tenth anniversary at the IFSC. Their group chairman accompanied by a political VIP is hosting a gala dinner. They need a senior Irish minister to be the joint guest of honour but are getting nowhere with their efforts. I get on the phone to my contacts. I call in some credit within the system and keep my fingers crossed.

1.00pm I go to lunch in the IDA client dining area where I meet, by appointment, two representatives of the Kaliningrad local government who want to hear the story of Ireland’s economic success with a view to replicating it. This has become a regular happening. I’ve lost count of the number of countries who visit IDA on the same mission. Last week it was a minister from the state of Victoria, Australia.

2.30pm Back at my desk - the New York office is just open. I ring Mark Egan, our financial services guru there, to firm up details on a planned trip to the East Coast in September to put proposals on a pan-European pensions model to a number of US multinationals who have operations in Europe. We are trying to generate an initiative in one of the most difficult areas of the financial services sector i.e. the creation of a pensions product for the corporate sector in Europe which can satisfy the main regulatory and tax criteria in the largest EU countries. It’s a race against time with Luxembourg to see who will pull a rabbit out of this particular hat! However success in this venture would create a hugely lucrative sector for IFSC service providers and investment managers.

2.45pm I drive down to Dublin Castle for a meeting with Frank Mullen, his colleague Donal Godfrey, and our own tax advisor Margaret MacCann. Frank and Donal have forgotten more about international tax than most of us have learned and on this occasion we want to discuss developments at OECD level aimed at preventing tax evasion in the international financial industry. Ireland needs to maintain the highest quality standards not only in regulation but also in compliance with best international tax practice. In promoting the sector IDA people need to know the limits of what can be done as well as the weaknesses of competing locations.

4.45pm I have just enough time before the evening rush to nip down to McQuillans in Capel Street to buy an electric sander for some DIY I am planning. People who know me well say I have a weakness for gadgets.

6.40pm I’m back home. Mary and I have a light evening meal and go outside to sit on the patio. A ramble around the garden which, fortunately is large and private, in this nice summer weather is a good way to relax.

10.00pm I check the PC for mails including those forwarded from the office and that brings the day to a close.

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