Assets domiciled in Irish funds surpassed €4trn at the end of 2021, for the first time ever, representing 22.5% year-on-year growth, with a 42.1 % growth solely in exchange traded funds.

In a statement on 31 May, Irish Funds said this growth has been accompanied by a significant increase in the number and breadth of firms operating in key EU hub Ireland.

Irish Funds has been holding its 23rd Annual Global Funds Conference in Dublin and just published a Whitepaper on the future of crypto assets in Irish regulated funds.

Ireland is home to 6% of worldwide investment fund assets, and to almost 19% of European fund assets, making it the third largest centre in the world. 

The total number of Irish domiciled funds, including sub-funds, reached 8,450 in March 2022.  

The conference theme, Resilience, Emergence and Growth, has focused on the opportunities and challenges facing the funds and asset management industry as the world emerges from the pandemic, with a number of panel discussions covering the rise of private assets, leveraging fintech in asset management distribution, the evolution of the modern workplace in light of the move to hybrid formats and crypto assets, which have gained significant interest among investors.

The discussion on crypto assets coincides the launch of the Irish Funds White Paper titled ‘Crypto Assets: opportunities, risks and future possibilities for regulated investment funds in Ireland' which includes an action plan to ensure Ireland utilises its current strengths as both a leading investment funds centre and a significant technology hub to take advantage of the opportunities presented by crypto assets. The action plan sets out the following priorities: 

  • Regulatory clarity - on the extent and nature of exposure for funds used by institutional investors which would be appropriate, as well as a commitment to consider the conditions and circumstances under which sophisticated retail investors might avail of access. 
  • EU Convergence - urging engagement between the CBI, peer regulators, the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAS) and the European Forum of Innovation Facilitators to ensure a convergence of approaches towards crypto assets. 
  • Government backing - building on the creation of the Fintech Steering Group, to create a specific taskforce on tokenisation to support the creation and operation of tokenised platforms within Ireland.

This follows the Central Bank of Ireland's advice to Irish Funds in March 2022 that it has approved in principle the first ever low level of exposure, to cash settled Bitcoin futures traded on the CME, for a fund for qualified investors.
Maria Ging, Irish Funds Chairperson opened the Conference stating: "Never has the purpose of this industry to support global savings and all of our stakeholders across society, local communities and employees been more relevant or more important as we move from resilience, through emergence to growth."

In the second keynote address, the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Gabriel Makhlouf, said: "Market based finance, including asset management, provides a valuable alternative to bank financing. It can facilitate risk sharing across the financial system and support economic activity."

Irish Funds chief executive, Pat Lardner added: "The funds and asset management industry in Ireland has proven its resilience throughout the pandemic and is making a tangible and increasing contribution to the economy at all levels - locally, regionally and nationally.   

"Ireland's funds and asset management industry is a world leader in a highly competitive, global industry which is answering the call to assist in addressing the challenges of today, whether that be in relation to climate or post pandemic recovery. 

"We are also firmly focused on the future in terms of the tools and skills we need to maintain and build upon a reputation for trust, capability and innovation to support the next generation of savers."