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Thirteen new companies authorised for IFSC Back  
Thirteen new international financial services companies (IFS) companies were authorised
in the first seven months of 2006: 1 bank, 5 insurance companies, and 5 funds servicing firms; and according to the Financial Regulator, the pipeline of new company authorisations is also strong.
The flow of new international financial services companies (IFS) into Ireland is continuing, and in the first seven months of 2006, thirteen new firms were authorised by the Financial Regulator, indicating a sector in very good health.
One bank was authorised during the year, AIB Mortgage Bank plc, along with three insurance firms, Standard Life International Limited, AXA Life Europe Limited, and MetLife Europe Limited.
Five funds service providers were authorised, including indigenous start-up Quintillion, FundAssist Services Limited, Morgan Stanley Fund Services (Ireland) Limited, and Capita Financial Administrators (Ireland) Limited.
However, while overall very positive for the future health of Ireland’s IFS industry, the flow of new companies, combined with expansion from the incumbent firms, is leading to capacity constraints in amongst IFS companies, with staff shortages a problem in almost all sectors.
In an attempt to address this issue, a focus on employment initiatives is at the heart of the Government’s new strategy for the IFS sector, which was revealed in a new report, ‘Building on Success’. The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, launched the much anticipated report on Thursday, September 14th.

Some of the specific initiatives included in the report are the introduction of a fast track system for the employment permit application process; key financial services occupations to be included in new ‘Green Card’ scheme; and the re-introduction of Inter-company Transfer Scheme, which will allow for the transfer of a limited number of key senior staff from overseas affiliate companies for a period of 5 years.

Moreover, the report identified a number of specific education issues, including the establishmnet of a Centre for Financial Services Skills, to be led by a Director of Financial Services, and the creation of an International Financial Services Skills Fund.

The report, which was a collaborative effort between industry and the public sector, was welcomed by the industry, with Denis Casey, chairman of Financial Services Ireland (FSI) commenting, ‘we now have a coherent framework for the development of the international financial services sector, covering tax, regulation, skills, R&D and marketing’.

Patrick Neary, chief executive of the Financial Regulator said that the report was, ‘a very significant road-map for the future development of the international financial services industry’.
However, the lack of a specific time-frame for delivery of the commitments made in the report was highlighted by the Irish Bankers Federation, who believe that there is potential to increase employment in the sector. According to the Finance Dublin Yearbook 2006, (www.financedublin.com/yearbook) there are currently 19,000 people employed in the IFS sector, and the IBF say it can grow to 30,000 within five years, if the Government takes the right action.

Other issues addressed in the report include updating the legislative and fiscal environment, and the role of product development and innovation in driving the sector forward.

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