Ireland needs to pay now - or it’ll pay later

It’ll be no surprise to any readers to hear the line “business is picking up this year” but that’s definitely not propaganda - we’ve not seen the financial services recruitment market this busy for around a decade.

Credit risk, in particular, has seen a marked increase in recruitment over the last six months and it looks set to continue. Since it’s judges readiness in case of financial disaster, everybody in the sector is keen to make sure it’s a strictly observed as possible to minimise the chances of the country spiralling into another economic freefall like in 2008.

One of the key models that has an impending deadline is IFRS9, which needs to be implemented across all businesses by January 2018. Almost two years away may seem like plenty of time but considering other new regulations like MiFID II and the 4th Money Laundering Directive, that time could speed by in the blink of an eye. Companies need to be making clear plans right now.

This is true of businesses in New York, London, Hong Kong - but it goes double for Irish financial services companies. As a country, we’re substantially behind our European and Asian counterparts, something that was best observed by a risk analyst recently returned from Australia who informed us that she was quite shocked to find out just how far off the pace Ireland is even when compared to Australia - the company globally renowned for a somewhat laid back attitude towards life!

And yet some Irish hiring managers seem slow to come to terms with two unavoidable facts - firstly, that offering contract roles (and rates) is going to be necessary in order to motivate the right talent to join our workforce and help hit these inflexible deadlines and, secondly, the existing Irish resource pool is limited and hiring from outside the country is going to be equally necessary. Yes, it can be a frustrating process, time consuming and costly - but to bury your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away by itself will only end up being more time consuming and far more costly in the long run.

Other options include training staff internally or using a consultant from a larger company such as Deloitte. To our mind, both are impractical solutions which bring their own complications.

The training option could be seen as a cost-effective approach but there are two risks looming here - one is that the people put through the relevant education may not grasp the necessary points as quickly as required and the other is that, once trained up, these people may defect to other companies (and countries) to get paid more for the skills they’ve now acquired, rendering the whole process pointless.

The consultancy option is a way of guaranteeing that the work will be done but when you consider companies will charge a few thousand euros per day to lease their consultants, it’s likely to cost more than double and almost three times what it would cost to hire a contract expert through an agency.

Our economy is reasonably strong right now. It’s time to put our money where our proverbial mouth is - the old adage of spending money to make money rings true here. Unless Ireland competes for talent with other European countries, we are almost certainly doomed to fall further behind the market and risk a return to the dark days of late last decade.

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