Remarks by Governor Gabriel Makhlouf at the Financial Industry Forum

11 May 2022 Speech

Governor Gabriel Makhlouf

Good morning. Not only is this the first meeting of the Financial Industry Forum but it’s also one of the first physical events we’ve hosted in the Central Bank since the onset of the pandemic and it’s with a sense of optimism for the future that I welcome you all here today.

I became Governor in September 2019, eleven years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and its aftermath. The following decade has been one of fundamental change, for Ireland, for financial services and for the Central Bank itself. At the Central Bank we had to undertake major reform in response to a number of questions, including how to avoid catastrophic failures, how to best deliver on our mandate for the good of the people of Ireland and how to work with our colleagues in Europe and regulate financial services to a high standard?

The last decade has been a challenging period but also an important and worthwhile period. I am proud to lead a world class regulator such as the Central Bank of Ireland.

In my first speech as Governor (at the Waterford Institute of Technology), I spoke of the need for the Central Bank to understand and help to explain the transitions that are shaping the world we live in, to assess the risks and to take action where we can. And to coincide with the publication of our 2019 Annual Report I wrote a Blog setting out my vision for the Central Bank to be well-connected to the community across the length and breadth of Ireland, listening and learning about the issues households and firms are facing, and explaining what we do and why we do it.

At that time I couldn’t have imagined how tumultuous the world would become in such a short period of time with a global pandemic and now the terrible war in Ukraine. Inevitably, these events have had an impact on the Irish financial services industry and, more than ever, we need to understand how they are affecting consumers and shaping the world that we regulate.

Last September we published the Central Bank’s new Strategy. Given what I said about listening and learning and the importance that we place on our mission to serve the public interest in a transparent and accountable way, it should come as no surprise that we should adopt “open and engaged” as one of our key strategic themes. Being open and engaged means that we look to continually strengthen our engagement and open dialogue with stakeholders across Ireland.

It was in this context that we undertook the public consultation last year on how to engage with our stakeholders. We received 18 responses to that consultation – some from those of you here in the room today – and, on the basis of these responses, we are introducing a number of enhancements to our engagement. These include changes to the already established Consumer Advisory Group and Civil Society Roundtables.

We also committed to setting up this new Industry Forum to facilitate discussion on issues of mutual interest. We anticipate that the Forum will cover issues relating to the full span of our mandate from banking to insurance to investments and payments.

However, I want to emphasise that the intention is that the Forum will not deal with sectoral-specific issues. As many of you expressed in your feedback to the consultation, we want this Forum to focus on strategic cross-sectoral issues. There will be opportunities to discuss sector specific topics in other fora that are in the planning stage for later in the year.

At the Joint Oireachtas Committee in March, I outlined the Central Bank’s regulatory priorities for 2022, which included putting in place a structured framework for engagement which will include an Industry Stakeholder Forum, a Financial System Conference and a Climate Risk and Sustainable Finance Forum.

Two weeks ago, we published a call for expressions of interest to participate in the Climate Risk and Sustainable Finance Forum and we’ll publish further details of this Forum shortly.

The Financial Services Conference will be held on 2 and 3 November so look out for further information on that and I hope to see you all there.

The financial services landscape in Ireland is changing and the Central Bank wants to be front-footed in its response to the change. To achieve that we need, among other things, to be well-connected with our stakeholders, so that we understand each other’s expectations.

It is important to acknowledge that, however much as we might like, we cannot do everything. We need to prioritise our resources to those issues that are most pressing for consumers, for the financial system and for the economy. It’s in this context that we believe this Forum can inform how we work. Our aim is to encourage a Forum of open dialogue and good debate. I want this Forum to be collaborative and engaging, avoiding a situation where the Central Bank drives the agenda. I want to hear other voices. In addition, to ensure maximum transparency, we hope to publish the content of and output from the Forum on our website, which, of course, we encourage you to share.

I’m looking forward to a productive and interesting discussion and debate.

So let’s start by hearing what you hope to get from this Forum, and then later in the meeting to hear what are the strategic issues that most concern you. To ensure we get a chance to hear from everyone I’d ask that you keep your remarks brief and I think we can agree there’s no need to repeat topics where they’ve already been called out.