OPINION by Laura Heuston: Professional & Financial Services Firms – and the Irish Advantage

  • Professional & financial services firms promoting themselves abroad can benefit from the Irish Advantage by joining forces with Guaranteed Irish.
  • Irish sustainable finance ecosystem is benefitting from Brexit relocations, including Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and S&P Global Ratings.

    OPINION: Professional and Financial Services firms – and the Irish Advantage

    By Laura Heuston, Co-Founder of SustainabilityWorks and special advisor to Guaranteed Irish

    Guaranteed Irish is synonymous with the best of Irish business. Along with the rest of Irish society it has moved with the times and, particularly over the past 3 years with Brid O’Connell at the helm, has totally reinvented itself.  While it retains its original association with local brands it has evolved to embrace diverse sectors including pharmaceuticals, tech, energy, financial services and professional services.  It has also broadened its definition of an Irish business to include international companies that have operations here.  It now makes a very strong business case for professional and financial services firms to become members. 

    There are 3 core criteria that must be met when applying for membership, namely provenance, jobs and local community impact.  The provenance criterion is easily met by services firms based here.  No matter whether working for local or international clients, talented and knowledgeable Irish located people will be involved, thereby meeting the provenance and also the jobs criteria in one fell swoop.  As for local community impact, these firms are often the most active from a CSR perspective and have multiple community support and outreach programmes that contribute materially to the localities in which they are based.

    Of course, these firms, which include KPMG, Matheson and FBD Insurance, would only be Guaranteed Irish members if there was a business case for doing so.  And happily there is.  They, and their representative bodies, travel the world promoting Ireland as an attractive location to do international business and access EU markets.  Promoting themselves as rooted in Ireland – and as rooting for the Irish economy – is core to this proposition.  These firms know the value of being connected to Ireland and this is what makes the Guaranteed Irish brand attractive. 

    My area of specialism is sustainable finance – both around highlighting Ireland’s attractiveness as a hub for international sustainable financial services and ensuring Ireland mobilises private capital to meet our own climate targets.  When I talk to financial leaders internationally about Ireland and doing business here, the consistent feedback is that they love working with Irish based firms as they are just more willing to go the extra mile, to sort out the knottiest of issues and to do so with an easy uncomplicated manner.  That is down to our people.  Part of our unique selling proposition is our young, educated and talented workforce – who are at the heart of our professional and financial services sector.  As the national symbol of trust, the Guaranteed Irish symbol provides the seal of approval that a firm is Irish to its core.

    It goes without saying that the Irish Advantage is becoming increasingly important as we edge closer to Brexit and this is true for our sustainable finance offering also.  In fact, our sustainable finance ecosystem is benefitting from Brexit relocations as some of the recent arrivals have strong green credentials.  This includes Barclays, which launched the first UK green mortgage product, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, one of the top 3 green bond underwriters globally in 2018 and S&P Global Ratings, which has developed a number of innovative ESG (environmental, social and governance) evaluation tools.

    We in SustainabilityWorks, an innovative sustainability consulting firm, proudly wear our Guaranteed Irish symbol as we work with Irish organisations, including professional and financial services firms, on developing their sustainability strategies and figuring out how to engage with investors from an ESG perspective.  We are actively involved in delivering on key issues contained in national Climate Action Plan, which will transform Ireland’s landscape in the next few years and impact MNCs, SMEs and the public sector alike – bringing both opportunities that should be exploited and risks that should be mitigated. We look forward to supporting businesses in Ireland for many years to come.


    Laura Heuston is passionate about highlighting the key role that the financial sector must play in mobilising finance to tackle climate change and other global sustainability challenges.  She has in-depth knowledge of the global and national sustainable finance policy and market landscape.  Along with her Co-Founders Aideen O’Hora and Karen Deignan, the team at SustainabilityWorks offer a unique blend of skills and experience across sustainability strategy, communications, finance and innovation to their clients which include MNCs, SMEs, the public sector and Not for Profit organisations.


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