MHC: Banking professionals want competition to be taken into account in regulatory policy

MHC: Banking professionals want competition to be taken into account in regulatory policy

Liam Flynn

Almost all senior banking and financial services professionals believe that financial regulators should take competition and consumer choice into account when formulating regulatory policy, according to a new survey by Mason Hayes & Curran.

The business law firm polled more than 150 people at a recent webinar focused on the outlook for financial sector mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in Ireland and Europe in 2023, of whom 96 per cent agreed that competition and consumer choice should be taken into account.

Liam Flynn, partner and co-head of the financial regulation team at Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “Our survey findings are significant, since the Central Bank of Ireland has no statutory mandate to foster growth, competition or consumer choice. It is entirely focused on financial stability and consumer protection.”

The panel discussed the outlook for bank consolidation in Ireland and agreed that further activity in 2023 is unlikely.

The most active sectors are likely, as in 2022, to be fund services/administration and insurance broking. These sectors are less heavily regulated than the banking sector, and this factor may encourage deal activity.

Almost all survey respondents (94 per cent) said that regulatory policy is a significant driver or deterrent of consolidation. The survey also found that most respondents (77 per cent) believed financial sector consolidation in Ireland this year would either be more than (42 per cent) or similar to (35 per cent) 2022 levels.

Mr Flynn said: “There is a serious lack of consumer choice in Ireland’s financial sector, and ongoing consolidation is making the situation worse. The problem calls for a public policy response that encourages new market entrants, but there is little evidence at government and CBI level that the message is getting through.”

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