Cross border trade plan

Forbes heads to Dublin for Scots-Irish ‘cluster’ talks

Kate Forbes, SNP digital minister

Kate Forbes: travels to Ireland (pic: Terry Murden)


Scottish minister Kate Forbes will travel to Ireland this week for talks aimed at building a new cross-border financial and technology corridor after Britain leaves the EU.

Ms Forbes will address hundreds of senior investment management executives at the PwC EMEA Asset Management Conference in Dublin on Friday.

While there she will also meet representatives of Ireland’s financial industry and the Irish Government.

The aim of the visit, which has been organised in conjunction with the Scottish Irish Finance Initiative (SIFI), is to encourage cooperation, particularly within the funds industry, between Scotland and Ireland, enabling companies to trade effectively after Brexit and to help younger financial businesses to grow.

Edinburgh fund manager Baillie Gifford and Standard Life Aberdeen are among financial firms setting up offices in Dublin to manage business post-Brexit.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has addressed business and political leaders in the Republic as part of a process of maintaining good trading links.

SIFI was set up last year in the belief that through collaboration the two countries could grow their finance industries more effectively than they could by acting alone and Brexit has given an extra urgency to the talks.

The initiative’s ultimate ambition is to create a new type of cluster that straddles borders and establishes a finance/fintech corridor stretching across Scotland and Ireland. 

Scotland has more than £800 billion of assets under management while Ireland is one of Europe’s biggest fund servicing centres with about £4 trillion of assets under administration. 

The visit follows a trade mission by Irish Minister Heather Humphreys to Scotland last month where she spoke to a combined meeting of Irish fintech companies and Scottish asset managers.

David Clarke, founder and policy director of SIFI (pictured), said: “With Scottish asset managers, banks and insurers braced for barriers being erected between them and the lucrative EU market it’s critical for them to know that Ireland provides a receptive base for their European operations.

“Likewise for Irish and international businesses based in Ireland looking to sell into the UK post-Brexit there is a centre of financial expertise with critical mass and a receptive pro-European culture only a 40 minute flight away.   

“The raison d’être however is much broader than present political considerations, with the global finance industry facing a range of competitive and regulatory hurdles over coming years, as exemplified in the growth of fintech.

“Both countries have been successful to date on their own terms. In the future both will be challenged by regional and not national industry hubs.

“If Irish and Scottish businesses and policy makers by working together can bring more high-value jobs into our economies and spread even more wealth throughout our communities, we have an obligation to grasp this opportunity. 

“This has been the core focus of our work to date and very much on the table in the series of meetings this week.”

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