Dublin Funds Talk Episode 2 (Brian Jackson)

In this episode of Dublin Funds Talk, Brian Jackson, Partner Financial Services Audit at Deloitte details his experience of the funds industry.

He tells us about how the Dublin and London (funds) scene compare and how Dublin’s expertise and ambitious population are driving it as a financial services HQ.

Dublin Funds Talk Episode 2 (Brian Jackson)

Hosted by Alan Meaney

Video Transcription

Alan Meaney: Welcome back to Dublin Funds Talk. Today's episode two, I'm with Brian Jackson of Deloitte. How are you doing Brian?

Brian Jackson: Very well. Thanks, Alan.

Alan Meaney: Brian is a partner with their financial services audit, correct?

Brian Jackson: That's correct.

Alan Meaney: And tell us a little bit Brian, about how you ended up as a partner with Deloitte and I suppose your career to date in the funds industry.

Brian Jackson: I've actually worked for Deloitte for just 13 years. I actually joined Deloitte directly from college. I would have done a pretty traditional route for accountants. I did finance in UCC, the masters of accounting in Smurfit, and would have joined as a trainee accountant back in 2002. I joined the financial services group. I had a real interest in investment funds and it was just a natural progression since then. While I've spent all of that time with Deloitte, I've actually got to do quite a lot of different things as part of it. I spent three months on secondment, one of the big administrators here at Oakley. I did 12 months with the investment management group in London, and I've worked on a number of kind of significant projects for different people. While I've been with Deloitte, I feel I've done quite a significant number of different things during that time.

Alan Meaney: Definitely. That's a great perspective to have, so you've got both from the audit side, from the fund administrator side and obviously you get the fund manager perspective at the board meeting.

Brian Jackson: Absolutely. And I think it's important to have all perspectives because what you kind of learn and observe on one side really helps you in your role on the other. I think a key part of my journey has actually been to work on both audit and non-audit kind of assignments over the last number of years.

Alan Meaney: Great. I guess leading into that, the funds industry in Dublin, good few years here, things have changed and offer a lot. What are the key strengths you see of the funds service center do we have here in Dublin?

Brian Jackson: Certainly the level of expertise. Having worked with fund industry groups in various locations around the world, there's no doubt that the level of expertise that sits here is phenomenal and is a key differentiator. In terms of the kind of variety of products and the complexity of those products, it's something that we punch above our weight consistently. In terms of actually the ability to deliver, not just exceptional client service, but actually to understand the products that we're actually servicing such that whenever there is a question or there's an issue we actually have people here that have the expertise to actually service that. I think the funds industry in Ireland is very hungry. I think that hunger drives itself in a number of ways. I think there's an unquenchable kind of desire to improve, to innovate. In terms of the technology side, which clearly you're very focused on, that continues to strengthen Ireland's role as the center for funds. And I think it will continue for many years into the future.

Alan Meaney: Great. And I guess from that the people's expertise part has been really important with all the regulations that have come in the last five years. Do you see those regulations starting to calm down a little bit, or are we just at the start of another wave?

Brian Jackson: I would like to see that there's an end in sight. I think because the changing nature of the industry is such that new regulations have to keep pace with the innovation that's happening. And I don't think we're going to see an end. I think you would like to think that regulation will slow down in certain areas. With AIFMD for example, you would like to think that will be the cornerstone of regulation for alternatives for a number of years to come. In other areas such as, for example, Cybersecurity, you kind of feel that the level of maturity may not be quite there. And maybe that's an area where regulation will continue to evolve along with regulation of distribution or around MiFID II and these types of things. But I really don't see an end in sight.

Alan Meaney: Definitely. I think regulations are here to stay for a while. And at the end of the day, it's for investors. And the fund industry in Dublin, we've been evolving quite fast. Things have picked up the last five years, it's evolved as fast as I've ever seen it. Where do you think we're going to go in the next five years?

Brian Jackson: I would like to think that the funds industry here will go from strength to strength. The crash was pretty severe on a number of fronts. We've really seen a pretty significant rebound. We've seen a very significant uptake in terms of the activity across existing managers who do business here, but also in terms of new managers coming to the market. I think from that perspective the level of activity will kind of drive things forward. I do think that there's a number of challenges. In terms of Ireland as a funds centre, it's important that we're cost competitive. I think the talent side is absolutely imperative. And we've got to make sure the client service teams that are responsible for representing Ireland as a funds industry across all of the different service providers, legal firms, auditors, etc., Continue to, to kind of deliver the service that we've become renowned for. And I think having the right cost balance with the right service balance, I think that will really help us to kind of push forward.

Alan Meaney: Sure. And, you get a coal face feedback from managers at the board level, where are they kind of crying out for areas that we aren't maybe living up to expectations then?

Brian Jackson: I'd like to think that they're quite few and far between. I think what we would tend to see is very much the positives coming through in some of those meetings, rather than the negatives. And I think it's really on building on the core strengths that we have rather than having kind of blind spots. I think even in the last kind of 12 months, we've seen a significant amount of innovation coming out of the Irish funds industry in terms of the new ICAV vehicles for example. And we've got various other things which really kind of enhanced the product offering and when you put that together with a very, very strong kind of capability for service delivery, I think it's a very strong combination.

Alan Meaney: Great. And you also spent some time in London, you got to see the London scene versus the Irish scene. You'd think we compare well, there's been a lot of talk recently that possibility of middle office or front office roles moving to Dublin. Do you think we're in a good spot for that to happen?

Brian Jackson: Absolutely. When I went to London, it was 2008, 2009. It was a very interesting period for many reasons, prior to going there, you're a little bit nervous, you're kind of wondering, will you succeed in a market like London? And actually I can say with no doubt that the industry here pound for pound absolutely stacks up against London. I think there's a great opportunity for Dublin to really expand in terms of the back office offering, which is being successful. You have in delivering and really move into other areas such as middle office, which I know people have been building great capabilities around in the last number of years. And actually, I think that there's quite a significant amount of expertise that already exists within the Irish funds industry in that area.

Alan Meaney: Great. That's it, Brian. I think we've covered everything for today. Thanks very much for your time.

Brian Jackson: Thank you.

Alan Meaney: See you next episode.

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