2021 started like no other: schools closed, countries grappling with pharmaceutical giants for vaccines, and a huge proportion of the country still working from home.
Nonetheless, there is a sense of cautious optimism amongst our clients and candidates as 2021 progresses. Whilst we must allow time for a global vaccine roll-out to take effect before any we see any notable relaxation of current Covid19 restrictions, there is a sense of “getting-on-with-business” within Covid19 parameters of course.
Areas of Activity
Phoenix’s specialist areas - Professional Services, Financial Services, Private Equity, and Corporate Finance Advisory - have undoubtedly weathered the Covid storm better than others.Financial resources are accumulating within the Private Equity/Venture Capital sector with many houses poised to invest, companies are evolving and adapting to a new way of working, and there is an anticipated increase in insolvency and restructuring activity later this year.
Therefore, it is not surprising that there is an increased demand for experienced professionals in certain sectors e.g. M&A, Insolvency & Restructuring, Private Equity, Financial Regulation, Legal (particularly M&A Corporate, Employment, Insolvency & Restructuring, Funds, FinTech), and Corporate Tax.
Foreign Direct Investment
The IDA’s most recent 2020 results and Strategy for 2021 - 2024 bolster grounds for this cautious optimism. They show that investments continued and FDI employment grew in 2020 despite the impact of COVID-19 with 246 investments, including 95 new name investments, and 20,000 new jobs.
Reflecting the ambition of the Government’s forthcoming National Economic Plan, the IDA Ireland’s new Strategy 2021 - 2024 targets 800 investments and 50,000 new jobs, with 400 of the 800 investments targeted at regional locations. However, the IDA also expects that competition for FDI in key sectors will intensify as recovery continues and Ireland’s competitiveness remains critical.
Lasting Covid Changes
Covid has impacted the way we live, socialise, and work. Some of these changes appear permanent e.g. the consumer shift from brick- and-mortar to online retail platforms and from cash to card. Similarly, national authorities are likely to increase their focus on the robustness of countries’ supply and distribution chains for critical goods and services.
Agile working is arguably Covid’s most notable legacy. Within a matter of weeks, the majority of businesses had to facilitate and support a remote workforce and for many organisations, that workforce has never returned
However, Covid has clearly demonstrated that for a vast proportion of companies, agile working can and does work. This is contingent on the right investment by employers, not just financially, but also in terms of tailored employee engagement initiatives. If done correctly, agile working can result in a more balanced and productive workforce with a stronger sense of employer loyalty.
From a recent Phoenix survey with over 1000 responses from relevant professionals, a blended 2 / 3 day office / home approach is the preferred model post-Covid. The majority of our clients also anticipate a blended approach post-Covid.
Ireland on The Global Stage
As discussed above, the IDA’s results from 2020 coupled with its 2021 - 2024 strategy are grounds for positivity. The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, whilst a source of disruption for some sectors, has been positive for the Irish Financial Services sector and Ireland as a domicile of choice.
The recent publication of the Investment Limited Partnership legislation will also increase Ireland’s attractiveness for a range of private funds such as private equity, infrastructure, and real estate funds.
2021 has started strong recruitment-wise. We remain optimistic that this trend will continue, and indeed increase in pace in H2 of this year, provided the vaccine and virus play ball!
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