Sector overview: Business and Finance

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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Covering everything from traditional banking to e-commerce, tax, audit, consultancy and with inputs into literally every industry, the areas of business and finance remain one of the largest job opportunity sectors and one of Ireland’s biggest areas of employment.

Business and Finance

Over the last four to five years there have been very significant levels of business expansion within the Irish financial sector, both as a result of expansion from indigenous Irish firms and, more commonly, as a result of significant foreign direct investment from large players in the financial sector with operations here. There has been significant diversification from those in the financial services space over the past decade, with the lessons of the economic crash still very recent. Dublin, naturally, remains the centre of the industry on a national level while the city remains very important as an international hub too. The continuing confusion over Brexit has led to looming challenges and opportunities for Ireland in relation to the finance sector, with the country seeking to make the most of the opportunities inherent in it being the only English speaking country within the European Union.

While business and finance companies obviously form a fundamental role within any successful business, there are four main sectors that most of the major players in this market are involved in and these remain where the majority of jobs are, these are:

Financial services

This is an umbrella term for services such as accountancy, tax, audit and consultancy. These are most commonly offered by firms of a larger scale, such as the ‘Big4’ of PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY. The continuing growth of firms in this sector reflects an increase in domestic demand and the realities of globalisation. In a lot of the cases, clients with whom these firms work are based abroad. There is a continuing demand for graduates and postgraduate students with the right qualifications to work in firms offering financial services across these core disciplines. There’s also a precedent of established career progression and a structured programme of continuing professional development which is particularly attractive to those seeking a career in these areas. Tax, in particular, is an area where employers are presently focusing, especially considering Ireland’s globalised, open economy. Roles in areas such as transfer agents, transfer pricing agents, financial services tax experts, and VAT taxing agents are particularly in demand.

Accountancy

The bedrock of business and finance, accountants with the right skills and qualifications, continue to be in demand across all sectors. The accountancy market has been recovering and growing steadily over the last seven years. This is evident in the numbers seeking accreditation from either Chartered Accountants Ireland, Certified Public Accountants or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Most promising graduates entering the market, do so with a 2:1 degree in a related discipline and then do their professional exams while working with an organisation within this sector.

Retail banking

The whole area of retail or ‘high-street’ banking has evolved fundamentally over the past decade. In terms of scale and the services on offer to customers, the vast majority of personal, day to day banking services have moved online. However, the banks themselves remain large and influential institutions with significant opportunities in areas such as debt restructuring and arrears restructuring and collection. Yet the buoyant economy of recent years has seen a significant return to lending for both the consumer and business market, with associated job opportunities, notably in the area of e-commerce.

Investment banking

The area of funds management and investment is one of the most lucrative, and sizable in the Irish business and finance sector. Job opportunities in this region have grown an average of 15-20% over the past five years. With many leading American and European players in setting up in Ireland, there are plenty of roles in front office, back-office, and support service presently available. Data analysis roles are also particularly applicable to this sector, as are roles linked to derivative and quantitative markets. The interface of the financial and technology space, fin-tech, is particularly dynamic in the investment and fund management space, with Ireland recognised as an international hub in terms of online payments and investments and fund management.

Jobs in the financial space, in general, have evolved in terms of the skills that can be applied to the sector, with data, marketing, and tech skills all transferable into the business and finance sector. Also important are language skills and team leading and presentation skills, while inter-personal skills and the ability to communicate clearly remain vital, particularly when dealing with international clients.


Gemma Creagh

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