2018 was an interesting year for the Irish Economy and Financial Services on the whole. GDP is estimated to have been 6.8%, a dip from 7.2% in 2017. A recently revised EC forecast for 2019 is a moderate 4.1% as Ireland’s economy is still clouded by uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Household incomes grew by approximately 6%, helped by stronger wage growth and weak inflation. With unemployment levels at a record low, employment growth is expected to slow significantly in 2019 with Financial Services already seeing noticeable skill shortages, particularly within Private Equity Real Estate administration. This will likely bring with it further wage increases, in turn lowering wage competitiveness, tightening margins and increased inflation.
Still, our outlook is broadly positive. Quest have been engaging with a significant number of AIFM/UCITS ManCos whom have either expanded upon services or opened offices in Ireland. However, whilst Ireland has been touted in the media as having won the business of over 100 firms including over 30 Asset Managers, the real impact on jobs has been exaggerated with a relatively small number of additional headcount. Although technically true, in the majority of circumstances this information has been drawn from licencing applications to the CBI and the creation of new legal entities for businesses already present.