Minister D’Arcy says blockchain and AI present opportunities for better financial services

Jun 26, 2019

Chartered Accountants Ireland and Institute of Banking collaborate on future of financial services

Minister Michael D’Arcy has said that technological innovations such as blockchain and artificial intelligence present opportunities for better, faster and more cost-efficient financial services.

Addressing a 150-strong crowd of members and stakeholders of both Chartered Accountants Ireland and the Institute of Banking this morning, Michael D’Arcy, Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Financial Services and Insurance, said: “Innovation in financial services is much more than the use of new technologies and also includes the development of new financial products, services, instruments, and ways of doing business.

NEWS BODY - 2019 Blockchain and AI present opportunities for better financial services-min

“As set out in the Ireland for Finance strategy, whilst technology presents both opportunities and risks for us, and tools such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and big data could be seen as a threat, it is also important to be aware that these tools can also provide us with opportunities for better, faster and cheaper services which benefits both clients and customers.”

Minster D’Arcy added: “These new and developing technologies will require a talent pool of people with the skills to develop, manage and implement them. In many cases we can expect that the employment of highly-skilled staff in this area will move Ireland’s international financial services sector up the value chain. We are fortunate to have a solid technology base in Ireland to undertake the development and the research that will deliver the next generation of changes in financial services.”

The event, Ireland’s Transforming Financial Services Breakfast Briefing, was held in collaboration with Chartered Accountants Ireland and the Institute of Banking, demonstrating their commitment to supporting the Ireland for Finance strategy, launched in April by Minister D’Arcy and Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance.

Echoing the Minister’s sentiment, Barry Dempsey, Chief Executive of Chartered Accountants Ireland, said technological advances are “game changing” for accountants. 

He addressed the fact that, as an Institute, Chartered Accountants Ireland is acutely aware of how technology is impacting on the accountancy profession. He discussed how automation removes the requirement for human interaction with routine processes and how “the cloud” changes the way data is stored, opening up huge opportunities in blockchain, cryptocurrencies and more.

He also spoke about the evolving role of Chartered Accountants in financial services and how Chartered Accountants need to keep pace with a constantly changing business landscape. For example, Chartered Accountants Ireland refreshed its syllabus and learning programme last year to better reflect the industry’s needs, introducing a Financial Services Elective pathway for students.

The new Financial Services Elective pathway, in collaboration with the Institute of Banking, represents a forward-thinking step for the sector as it delivers a unique educational product that helps to develop well-trained, high-calibre accountants tailored for the needs of financial services providers. It is also the first partnership of its kind between a professional accountancy body and an Institute of Banking. 

Mary O’Dea, Chief Executive of The Institute of Banking, spoke about The Institute’s role in empowering a transforming sector through strategic and digital initiatives. She said: “Our consultations with industry showed that while organisations have embraced the digital agenda, they have not built digital capability throughout their business. Full capability requires all those working in the financial services industry to be comfortable gathering and using appropriate information to continuously enhance financial products and to manage their inherent risk. This way of working requires a whole new capability and our digital product programme is designed to provide this ‘end-to-end’ immersive learning, using real-life case studies and, crucially, requiring students to apply their learning in the workplace. Harnessing digital product management can enable better customer outcomes and ultimately, raise standards within the industry.”

The event also showcased each Institute’s commitment to supporting the Ireland for Finance strategy and emphasised the scale of ambition across the strategy’s four pillars:

Talent: Both institutes support the strategy through innovative education programmes, such as Chartered Accountants Ireland’s Financial Services elective and the Institute of Banking’s programme which includes Digital Product Management and Organisational Culture.

Technology and Innovation: This is a huge area of strategic focus for both institutes. The Institute of Banking recently launched its new education platform based on blockchain technology, aimed at reducing operational and regulatory risk within the sector.

Operating environment: Both bodies have strong engagement with relevant regulators, and Chartered Accountants Ireland has a significant presence in Ireland in the areas of taxation, representation and public policy.

Communications: Both institutes have strong networks. Chartered Accountants Ireland has 27,000 members, of which 4,500 are overseas and 40% are female.

Some 150 members of Charted Accountants Ireland and the Institute of Banking attended the Breakfast Briefing at Chartered Accountants House to discuss the drivers of transformation in post-digital financial services. The purpose of the event was to showcase the collaboration between Chartered Accountants Ireland and the Institute of Banking, and to stimulate both Institutes’ capacities to support the Ireland for Finance strategy.

Minster Michael D’Arcy was guest of honour and keynote speaker at the event. Other speakers included: Mary O’Dea, Chief Executive of the Institute of Banking; Barrie O’Connell, IFS Industry Advisory Committee; and Garvan Callan, Institute of Banking.

ENDS

For editors

About Chartered Accountants Ireland
Chartered Accountants Ireland is Ireland’s largest and longest established professional body of accountants founded in 1888. The Institute, which is an all-island body, currently represents over 27,000 members around the world. 

About the Institute of Banking
The Institute of Banking is the largest professional institute in Ireland. Founded in 1898 with 719 members, the Institute now has 32,500 members who work in banking and financial services and more than 9,500 members currently studying.

Reference
Fiachradh McDermott | Gibney Communications | 01 661 0402 | 087 655 7070