Is Ireland the main life raft for UK fintechs as Brexit approaches and could Paris be a reserve

Paris and Frankfurt are being touted as locations for UK financial services firms to locate, but is it the case that Ireland will be easier?

Does the close proximity and cultural similarity to the UK make Ireland the number one choice.

I recently spoke to Russ Shaw, founder of Tech Global Advocates as he announced the launch of Tech Paris advocates, the latest entry in the global technology network.

Tech London Advocates began in 2013 when a network of technologists and entrepreneurs formed the group to promote London as a hub for tech companies. It has since grown to include another 11 locations as part of Tech Global Advocates.

When we were discussing the launch I obviously had to ask him about Brexit. More specifically whether he thought that UK fintechs could perhaps seek refuge in Paris after Brexit.

He said: “It is early days, but Paris is going to have a strong fintech sector as well as [strong] machine learning and artificial intelligence. It could also have an opportunity in creative tech. Meeting some of the founders reminded me of the challenges we had in London,” said Shaw.

In terms of a gateway to the EU market for UK fintechs he said: “We assume fintech businesses will need passporting rights, so if they open up in Paris they can continue to operate across Europe.”

We also regularly hear how Frankfurt will be chosen for relocation for many banks.

But while there is talk of Paris attracting UK firms Ireland, a natural location for English speaker, has announced success in creating thousands of new jobs, since Brexit. IDA Ireland, which is responsible for attracting foreign investment to Ireland, has announced that companies within its remit added 4500 jobs last year. These include firms such as Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Barclays which all expanded in Ireland as part of their Brexit planning.

In March IDA Ireland told me: “Financial services is the most high-profile industry to be affected by Brexit because the re-regulation of banks and financial businesses takes so long,” he said. “They don’t have time to wait and see what the Brexit agreement between the UK and EU is going to be.”

At the time the IDA has brought in about 28 financial institutions of various sizes and profiles since the Brexit vote, and all these were Brexit-driven, he said.

I have spoken to several fintechs who are looking at opening offices in Ireland to retain access to the single market and for many the deep skills pool that the EU offers.

And it is not just British fintechs. For example, California-based payments company Stripe set up its European hub in Ireland, and Deloitte is to build its Emea blockchain lab in Dublin.

If you are currently movig or planning to move to an EU country from the UK, please share your story in the comments or email me on [email protected]

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