Irish Funds opens new Brussels office as net assets reach record EUR3tn

Irish Funds, the representative body for the global cross-border investment funds industry in Ireland, officially opened its new office in Brussels as total net assets in Irish domiciled funds surpassed EUR3 trillion for the first time.

According to the latest statistics from the Central Bank of Ireland, net sales for Irish domiciled funds for the 11 months to the end of November 2019 were EUR257.7 billion and accounted for 56 per cent of all net sales into European domiciled funds. The figures consolidate Ireland’s position as the fastest-growing European fund domicile over the past eight years and a key jurisdiction enabling European savings and investment.

Sean Berrigan, acting Director General at DG FISMA – the Directorate-General responsible for EU policy on banking and finance,  delivered a keynote address at an event to mark the opening of the Brussels office, where he set out the priorities of the Commission in financial services over the next five years. The topic of sustainability is central to the von der Leyen Commission and Berrigan outlined key areas where DG FISMA will continue efforts with respect to the EU Sustainable Finance Package.
The Irish Funds Brussels office, in the heart of the EU district, will serve as an essential hub to engage with EU policymakers and legislators in Brussels and with ESMA in Paris on key EU financial services legislation and regulation.
This is a particularly important time for Ireland to be increasing its presence in Brussels given the changing dynamic in EU politics and the importance of acting as a trusted and reliable source of information to policymakers during the process of policy formation. The Brussels presence will also help to bolster the organisation’s interaction and collaboration with European industry and other EU Member State officials as part of an increased focus on EU advocacy.
The Governing Council of Irish Funds, who represent the association’s 151 member firms, held their first ever Board meeting in Brussels earlier in the day before attending the event where they joined members of the Irish Funds team from Dublin, and Umar Ahmed, Head of EU Affairs.  Guests at the launch included European Commission officials, Members of the European Parliament, representatives from EU Member State delegations and key industry representatives.
Speaking at the event, Pat Lardner, CEO of Irish Funds, said: “We are delighted to open our Brussels office given the importance of a physical presence here in building relationships and engaging with policymakers to continue to help shape the future of our industry.
"Coming from a small member state we see openness as a strength and a source of competitiveness, not a threat to it. Protecting the single market and encouraging investment and savings in a global world aren’t mutually exclusive. We believe that families saving for their futures want to ensure they meet their end objectives in a sustainable and planned way – our job is to help them get there.
"Hosting this launch in the week when our friends and neighbours from the United Kingdom will take conclusive steps to leave the EU is a source of some sadness but it also underlines to us the importance of stepping up and playing a larger role in the debates which will shape our shared future.
"Ireland currently accounts for 17 per cent of all European fund assets and is Europe’s largest ETF Domicile with 60 per cent of European ETF assets. As Irish domiciled funds surpass EUR3 trillion total net assets for the first time, it is incumbent on us to ensure we are prepared to support the continued development and growth of saving and investment products.
"I look forward to members benefiting from our increased insight and advice on key EU policy, legislative and regulatory developments as well as increasing collaboration with European industry and national representatives.”