With all the talk in published media and social comment on Brexit, it calls to mind those famous lyrics by the Clash – “If I go there will be trouble and if I stay it will be double”. With a number of global Financial Services brands actively considering their contingency options in the event that the UK government serves notice to the European Council of it’s intention to exit the EU, many commentators and speculators wonder what (if any) impact this will have on the Dublin market.

Prominent amongst these FS brands, AIG have already held talks with the government about the possibility of relocating their European HQ to Dublin; Lloyds of London have dramatically announced that they too will be leaving London after 300 years, although the expectation is that they’ll look to establish a subsidiary either here in Dublin or in Malta, those being the two rumoured options. Of course Lloyds did have a “dry run” back in 2010 and in 2014 when they moved their trading desks (including their famous bell) to Dublin for the day with a Meet the market event held in Dublin’s Convention Centre. The potential for a behemoth like Lloyds arriving lock stock in Dublin would certainly position us under the global spotlight and if anything would encourage others to make similar moves.

But with many UK firms said to be actively considering their post Brexit options, it got me thinking. What impact will Brexit have on the recruitment strategies of these firms? The parent company may decide that relocation is in their best interests, but what of those of their staff? What cost implications might relocating potentially hundreds if not thousands of jobs across the Irish Sea have? And if they don’t successfully transition their staff from London to Dublin, do we have the talent resources locally to meet their needs?

Realistically many positions will require skills and experience that enables the employee to hit the ground running in potentially a new office, a new city, a new culture. Amongst the contingencies considered will be a bespoke recruitment and retention strategy to attract and retain the best talent available locally. But again, at what cost to the employer? The induction and training of new staff takes time and this may be the most critical factor when it comes to the recruitment strategy of the Brexiteers.

Another key consideration for many CEO’s and business leaders will be the likely cost implications of hiring “foreign labour” in a new country. With some local employees paid comparatively higher wages in Dublin to allow for cost of living, there is a genuine concern that the hiring of Irish resident staff may be simply too cost prohibitive. What will the costs be to the companies should they have to relocate roles to Dublin and source talent from the established competition here? This will further impact established Irish businesses who may too have to consider the cost implications of retaining their best talent in a post Brexit Ireland.

It’s a strategic challenge that few amongst us could have foreseen a little under 12 months ago. As recently as August 2016, the Central Bank of Ireland warned of an “internal churn of employees” sparking concerns about potential brain drain of talent. Imagine just how much choppier the market will be if the Brexiteers land waving fistfuls of sterling/Euro at our brightest and best.

A key focus of many established FS brands is the recruitment and retention of talent. There has been an ongoing “war for talent” in certain key areas where the supply of suitably qualified and experienced candidates are running dry. Under Brexit market conditions, this talent war has the potential to explode in Dublin and the smart play would be to secure your best staff before the Brexiteers arrive. Chief amongst the strategic goals of any company is growth either through acquisition or increased market share. This goal is massively undermined if there is a shortage of appropriate skills and experience to fulfil the roles required, owing to a drain of talent elsewhere.

It’s purely speculation on my part of course, but looking deep into my crystal ball, I can predict challenging times ahead. What seems steady and secure right now in terms of talent management, is about to get a whole lot more uncertain. Presently the vast majority of candidates maintain a passive interest in their relative market value and in what other potential job opportunities may offer in their respective sectors. But I believe that once that Brexit button is pushed, it will act as a catalyst for several UK firms to get their shops in order with the contingency plans for relocation or establishment of subsidiaries beginning to roll out in earnest. Until this happens it remains a matter of conjecture as to what the likely impact on this side will be but that does present established brands with an interesting challenge.

CEO’s, Business Leaders, hiring managers and senior management of all financial services firms will have to answer these three key questions.

·       How do they ensure that they retain their best people?

·       How do they position themselves as an employer of choice in an enlarged market with increasingly attractive competing options?

·       How do they hire for the future?

Succession planning is about to be replaced by “survival planning” with the appropriate contingencies required for an employment market entering a state of flux. The good news is that they still have time on their side while the Brexiteers are still planning their exit. But contingencies and plans need to be actioned today, not when the first wave arrives in Dublin. By then it will already be too late.

Gerard Quinlivan – Retained Executive Search & Senior FS Recruitment Professional

Campbell Rochford – Turning Good To Great

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