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Fund administrators find it difficult to recruit the right personnel Back  
The recent announcement that PFPC, the US funds servicing company, will consolidate its US and international alternative groups under a single management structure headed by Joan Kehoe in Dublin, will mean that PFPC will increase its Irish work force by 300 to 770. However, this will not be an easy task, as attracting good graduates with the ability to quickly contribute to the business has proven exceptionally difficult, Joan Kehoe tells FINANCE.
Q: How do you find the current business climate?
Kehoe: PFPC International has continued to experience strong growth in its core business lines. We grew by 33 per cent in 2004 from $45 billion in assets under administration to $60 billion at the end of the year.

Hedge funds tend to attract all the limelight and people sometimes forget that PFPC has a very strong franchise in UCITS funds also. Several of our larger UCITS fund clients experienced significant asset inflows in 2004 and they did it the old-fashioned way – by having a good value-for-money product and building extensive distribution capabilities so investors get to hear about it.

Q: How has this affected PFPC?
Kehoe: Obviously, we’ve seen huge growth to service this expansion in business. PFPC now employs 470 people in our facilities in Dublin and Wexford.
Joan Kehoe

I won’t pretend that this expansion has been easy. In common with others in the fund administration industry, we have encountered considerable difficulties in recruiting to service this additional business. PFPC’s business model is very focused on client service, so the caliber of our people is very important to us as they spend a lot of time interacting with our clients. It has always been difficult to attract good staff with relevant experience in what has historically been a fast-growing market, but in recent times even attracting good graduates with the ability to quickly contribute to the business has proven exceptionally difficult.

Despite the track record of the industry in providing high-quality, well-paying jobs, it hasn’t gained the profile with students which it requires. Similarly, despite the industry’s size and prominence, educators seem slow to incorporate funds-related items in the design of their business studies courses.

Q: But isn’t PFPC transitioning additional hedge fund business to Ireland from the US?
Kehoe: There has been some confusion about this. I have recently taken on management responsibility for PFPC Group’s Alternative Investments practices globally. This is not an instance of a multi-national assigning a pre-existing book of business to a particular facility. It is something very different and far more significant – It is an instance of local Irish management becoming integrated into the group structure and entrusted with responsibility for its fastest-growing line of business.
The rapid expansion of Ireland’s funds industries has posed some recruitment problems.

This is a wonderful recognition of the work put in by the Irish management team over the last few years in winning mandates and building client relationships. It is a case of Irish management spreading to run US business from Ireland, not of US business being out-sourced to us for production.

Q: How do you see the Irish market developing?
Kehoe: We’ve got a very good brand here in Ireland, but we need to be very careful about how we manage it. We have a very good name as a regulated jurisdiction, but there is always the danger of creeping over-regulation. Ireland made its name through smart regulation that focused only on what was relevant. There is a danger of this deftness of touch being lost which would pose real problems for Ireland as a domicile of choice.

Besides this, there are real competitiveness issues to cope with. Apart from the recruitment challenges I mentioned earlier, revenue is being affected just as much as costs are. In order to improve the competitiveness of their products, clients are constantly looking for outsourced service providers such as ourselves to provide a better product at a cheaper price.

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