Continuing our focus on jurisdictions where AILO membership is increasing, this week we’re shining the spotlight on the Republic of Ireland. Many thanks to Sanjeev Kopan* (Head of Proposition, Europe, at Standard Life and a Members’ Representative on AILO’s Management Committee) for giving us the benefit of his expertise in this article.

Punching above its weight in the life sector

Ireland may be comparatively small on a global scale, but it has a very strong financial services sector.

There are many USPs which underpin its success. It’s an important hub for global tech firms, an influential player in the EU, and a trusted international banking centre. But its abundance of employees with excellent people skills and customer service experience are equally important in the context of understanding Ireland’s status in the offshore insurance sector.

The quality of employees in customer service roles really stands out, says Sanjeev. That’s not just because of a friendly, positive attitude, but also a high level of knowledge combined with a willingness to take responsibility and use their initiative to solve problems. An added benefit for UK customers is that Ireland doesn’t have the language barrier which may exist with some other jurisdictions.

International Bonds

Many providers set up in Ireland specifically to offer International Bonds. For life companies this is a lucrative market which is focused mainly on mass affluent/HNWI clients in the UK looking for tax advantages.

However, there are some interesting future opportunities too, says Sanjeev. While International Bonds are often viewed as being only for the super wealthy, there is potential for it to become a mainstream, long-term savings solution. “We need to dispel the myth”, he says, “that International Bonds are only for HNWIs with sophisticated financial needs.” For many individuals, the International Bond is the next logical step for long-term savings for customers after topping up their personal pension and opening an ISA. It can also prove to be a simple and tax-efficient way to provide income post-retirement alongside a pension.

Robust regulation

The Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) regulates all financial services in the Republic of Ireland and, generally speaking, is quite consistent with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) when it comes to setting regulations and guidance. The CBI also works closely with the European Insurance & Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) to comply with relevant guidelines.

While regulation, as in all jurisdictions, provides challenges, in Ireland there are clear benefits to businesses and consumers which stem from the role it plays in establishing its reputation as a respected and trusted business centre.

How AILO helps Ireland’s life sector

AILO has more members in Ireland than anywhere else. There are many benefits of membership, but Sanjeev highlights two proof points as examples of why AILO is so strong in the Republic:

  • AILO’s eLearning modules: Particularly important in the context of helping businesses support training for employees, especially in the induction process for workers who have been recruited from outside the life sector.
  • Working successfully with other representative organisations: One example is the work AILO’s Legal and Regulatory Committee did in 2022 regarding UK trustees and the EU5AMLD directive.

In the latter example, says Sanjeev, AILO’s work in conjunction with Insurance Ireland was instrumental in prompting Revenue (Ireland’s tax and customs agency) to publish FAQs which proved to be very helpful for UK trustees holding an Irish offshore bond provided by Irish insurance companies (click here to find out more). Many life companies are members of AILO and Insurance Ireland – so the willingness of both organisations to work together towards common goals that benefit members and the industry is very important.

Summing up, despite its relatively small size in economic terms, Ireland writes a significant amount of business in the life sector, and financial services generally.

Just as very few small nations are able to attract so many US Presidents on official visits, Ireland continues to punch above its weight in the life sector too!

* Sanjeev, a qualified actuary with over 20 years of experience, is the Head of Proposition for Standard Life International (SL Intl). In this role he is responsible for developing and managing customer solutions in Ireland, Germany, Austria and the UK (Offshore Bond). He is the Head of Underwriting for SL Intl and a member of the SL Intl Executive Team.

Did you know?

Here are 3 quick facts about the Republic of Ireland which are all relevant to the jurisdiction’s growth as an international centre for insurance and finance services generally:

  • AILO has more members in the Republic of Ireland than in any other jurisdiction. At the time of writing there are 10 Full Members and seven Associate Members (see below for details).
  • The Central Bank of Ireland regulates more than 10,000 firms in the financial services sector.
  • According to Central Bank of Ireland figures published in Q4 2022, Irish insurance corporations hold assets worth €387billion.

Our Republic of Ireland Members

AILO has 10 Full Members in the Republic of Ireland at the time of writing:

Allianz Global Life DAC: Allianz Global Life is a specialized provider of retirement and group life solutions. It is able to provide standalone coverage of biometrical risks as well as co-insurance arrangements for life and health benefits in cooperation with other Allianz partners.

AXA Life Europe DAC: Part of the AXA Group, it is an international provider of life insurance, pensions and asset management. Working directly with customers, employers and advisers, AXA Life Europe is proud to be helping people take responsibility for their financial future.

Canada Life International Assurance (Ireland) DAC: Offers a variety of international solutions which are designed to grow your savings and investments. Tax-efficiency is at the heart of its proposition and services include international investment, estate planning and protection solutions.

Darta Saving Life Assurance Ltd: Darta Saving Life Assurance DAC is a 100% owned subsidiary of Allianz SpA of Italy and a part of the worldwide Allianz Group. Founded in 2003 it is an Irish-based life assurance company with headquarters in Dublin.

FIL Life Insurance Ireland DAC: FIL Life Ireland is part of the Fidelity International group and provides international workplace investing solutions to companies with global employees.

Octium Life DAC: A life insurance provider, originally established in Dublin in 2003 as UBS International Life LTD. In May 2017, UBS International Life was acquired by the Octium Group and changed its name to Octium Life DAC.

Prudential International: PIA is a leading insurer in the offshore bond market in the UK, while also providing single premium insurance bonds to the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and to UK expats in a number of EU territories.

SEB Life International: SEB Life International transacts business within the European Union with a strategic focus on Nordic clients and markets. The company’s primary product offering is the unit linked Portfolio Bond.

Standard Life International: Standard Life is a brand that has been trusted to look after people’s life, savings and retirement needs for nearly 200 years. Now part of Phoenix Group Holdings PLC, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, Standard Life International provides solutions via intermediaries to over 500k customers in Ireland, Germany, Austria and cross border from Dublin back into the UK.

Utmost International: Utmost International aims to provide outstanding service and focused expertise to clients who are seeking intelligent and efficient solutions, which enables control over their assets.

We also have seven Associate Members in the Republic of Ireland:

Financial Risk Solutions Ltd: FRS licenses its award-winning Invest|Pro™ unit linked and PPB fund administration and oversight software platform to 65 life insurance companies and BPO clients worldwide.

FNZ Ireland: FNZ Ireland was established in 1998 as Irish Progressive Services International Limited (“IPSI”) and was acquired by FNZ in August 2020. FNZ Ireland provides a full range of technology enabled Third Party Administration solutions to European and Global Life Assurance companies, including Investment Services.

KPMG Ireland: KPMG Ireland offers a broad range of insurance services across life insurance, non-life insurance, reinsurance and health insurance.

Milliman Dublin: Milliman is among the world’s largest providers of actuarial and related products and services. Founded in 1947, Milliman is an independent firm with offices in major cities around the globe.

PPL Partners: PPL Partners provides professional services and consultancy in IT, business change and transformation programmes to the insurance and investments industry in Ireland.

Reitigh Limited: Reitigh enable leading global financial services organisations to accelerate decision making with the highest standards of security and control. With IntegraLynx at their core, Reitigh’s insurance solutions solve complex administration challenges with transparency and agility.

SS&C Life & Pensions Services Limited: SS&C provide clients with a global business model that helps them establish themselves within new markets, develop and launch new products, and grow internationally.

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