Investment management platforms: Easily enter the Irish funds market

February 09, 2024

Irish markets abound with opportunity – but navigating the country’s robust financial regulations can be a daunting prospect. Learn how well-established investment management platforms supply a smooth path to success in this jurisdiction and in opening distribution channels into Europe.

The Irish market is thriving and drawing a lot of interest from fund managers looking for growth and an entry point into the EU.

As of September 2023, the total net assets of Irish-domiciled funds reached 3.85 trillion euros according to Irish Funds Industry Association statistics, and the number of Irish funds and sub-funds grew by 5% from the year prior to 8,766.

New entrants to the Irish market, however, often find themselves directing a significant amount of time and energy towards meeting the country’s rigorous financial regulations – specifically in regard to qualifying investor alternative investment funds (QIAIFs) and the Undertakings for Collective Investments in Transferable Securities funds (UCITS).

In this feature, we’ll look at how investment management platform solutions give managers a much easier means of accessing Irish fund structures and distribution channels into Europe – including managers of 40 Act funds in the U.S.

What is a fund platform?

Managers looking to enter the Irish marketplace often find that a fund platform provides the best solution.

“A fund platform is a turnkey investment structure with a regulated manager (AIFM or UCITS ManCo) appointed that provides a plug-and-play point of entry into the Irish marketplace,” explains Breda Sullivan, U.S. Bank WCIB head of depositary, custody and banking international. “It enables managers to launch European products with a ready-made, regulatory-compliant funds infrastructure.”

Ireland’s regulatory framework is a brand leader for Europe, but it requires fund infrastructure beyond what’s required in other jurisdictions, including the UK and the U.S.

“These regulations can be daunting to fund managers who want to distribute in Europe,” says Ken Somerville, head of U.S. Bank Global Fund Services – Ireland. “So a key objective for global service providers, like our team at U.S. Bank, is to implement solutions that make it simpler for managers to enter this market and work within these parameters.”

The key fund structures available on a platform are UCITS funds – fundamentally a long investment vehicle – and QIAIFs, which facilitate launching a fund across the range of alternative asset classes. Each requires a unique, jurisdiction-specific infrastructure, including a depositary and an EU-regulated management company.

A platform solution is an established, easy-to-understand concept. It helps fund managers bypass the cost and infrastructure hurdles of having to set up their own regulated management company. A platform provider establishes a funds structure, UCITS or QIAIF, and appoints all necessary service providers – lawyer, auditor, management company, custodian, administrator and depositary. That structure is then available for asset managers to use if they need a UCITS or QIAIF but lack the time, expertise and/or bandwidth to establish the structure themselves. The platform provider can just open up a new sub-fund and appoint the asset manager as investment advisor.

There are already a number of such platforms in the market in Ireland – some established by third-party management companies, and some set up by specialist firms with expertise in specific strategies or market sectors. In all cases, the platforms bring speed-to-market, ease of execution and a ready-made infrastructure complete with specialist service providers attached. In many cases, the platform provider also brings expertise in distribution or product strategy that can be difficult to secure otherwise.

Where U.S. Bank can help

While relatively new to Ireland, the platform concept has been in effect in the U.S. for quite some time in the guise of the multi-series trust. As the market leader in the servicing of multi-series trusts, our team at U.S. Bank has the expertise and technology to help you manage a platform with multiple individual investment advisors attached.

We also serve as the fund administrator, depositary and global custody provider to several fund platforms in Ireland. As mentioned earlier, these can provide an easily accessible channel to new growth opportunities for U.S. 40 Act fund managers. We expect this space to grow significantly in Europe just like we’ve been seeing the multi-series trust become the go-to model for building a fund business among small to medium sized asset managers in the U.S.

“Ireland is a concentrated market, and there are a limited number of independent institutional platforms here,” says Breda. “By offering platform solutions through a leading European third-party management company and consultant in the funds industry, we act as a conduit into a reputable, established model. This delivers the ideal mix of time to market, regulatory compliance and cost effectiveness that’s well-suited – transformational even – for our existing managers in the U.S. who want to distribute in Europe.”

Easier access to growth opportunities

Net assets of UCITS and AIFs reached a 20 trillion euro milestone in 2021. And now, managers now have better tools than ever to tap into these growth markets. If you’re looking for new opportunities in Ireland and Europe, a platform solution could be your perfect point of entry.

“You want to distribute in Europe?” says Ken. “You want a plug-and-play entry point into that marketplace? You enjoy the strength and stability of working with your existing provider? Well now you can have all of the above.”

Here are several of the benefits this option provides clients:

•  It enables them to easily enter the Irish marketplace, secure access to capital and open distribution channels into Europe.

•  It allows them to avoid many of the difficulties of navigating the Irish regulatory landscape on their own.

•  It’s specifically aligned to the needs of European investors in a regulated structure.

•  It supplies confidence and reliability grounded in the platform management company.

“We strive to help our clients on both sides of the balance sheet – revenue growth and cost control,” Ken continues. “We help them grow revenue by supporting them as they find new markets and distribution for their products. And we help them control costs by delivering more efficiencies into their operating model.”

At U.S. Bank, we offer the following AIF and UCITS services as part of our comprehensive offering:

•  Administration

•  Depositary

•  Custody

•  Foreign exchange

•  Financial and regulatory reporting

Whether you’re a large, established firm, or a specialized advisor looking to take your business to the next level, we have a full spectrum of fund servicing solutions to help accelerate your success. To learn more, visit our website, contact our team and check out these other resources:

•  The view from Europe: UCITS and ETFs in a changing world (webinar video)

•  Liquidity management: A renewed focus for European funds

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U.S. Bank asks: Do you know what an overdraft is?

Tips and resources to help in the aftermath of a natural disaster

Tips for working in the gig economy

Which is better: Combining bank accounts before marriage — or after?

Tips to overcome three common savings hurdles

Money Moments: 8 dos and don’ts for saving money in your 30s

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

A passion for fashion: How this student works the gig economy

Money Moments: 3 smart financial strategies when caring for aging parents

Helpful tips for safe and smart charitable giving

Growing your savings by going on a ‘money hunt’

Why a mobile banking app is a ‘must have’ for your next vacation

How compound interest works

How to avoid being the victim of a digital payments scam

Tips to raise financially healthy kids at every age

Is it time to get a shared bank account with your partner?

How I kicked my online shopping habit and got my spending under control

How to financially prepare for a military PCS

How to set yourself up for success in your first job

How to stay positive when searching for a job

Friction: How it can help achieve money goals

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

What to consider before taking out a student loan

Earning in the gig economy: Gladys shares her story

Financial checklist: Preparing for military deployment

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

Common unexpected expenses and three ways to pay for them

Webinar: Common budget mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Checking and savings smarts: Make your accounts work harder for you

Are savings bonds still a thing?

3 awkward situations Zelle can help avoid

Allowance basics for parents and kids

9 simple ways to save

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

3 ways to keep costs down at the grocery store (and make meal planning fun)

What military service taught me about money management

6 pandemic money habits to keep for the long term

Money muling 101: Recognizing and avoiding this increasingly common scam

How to avoid student loan scams

From LLC to S-corp: Choosing a small business entity

Is online banking safe?

How-to guide: What to do if your identity is stolen

8 tips and tricks for creating and remembering your PIN

Recognize. React. Report. Caregivers can help protect against financial exploitation

Recognize. React. Report. Don't fall victim to financial exploitation

5 tips for seniors to stay a step ahead of schemers

Webinar: U.S. Bank asks: Are you safe from fraud?

Learn to spot and protect yourself from common student scams

College budgeting: When to save and splurge

How I did it: Paid off student loans

The A to Z’s of college loan terms

How to save money in college: easy ways to spend less

The password: Enhancing security and usability

Rent payments: What’s changing for commercial real estate

Government agency credit card programs and PCI compliance

BEC: Recognize a scam

Fraud prevention checklist

Risk management strategies for foreign exchange hedging

Government billing survey: The digital transformation of the payment experience

4 tips for protecting your business against Coronavirus-related scams

5 Ways to protect your government agency from payment fraud

Unexpected cost savings may be hiding in your payment strategy

3 reasons governments and educational institutions should implement service fees

Benefits of billing foreign customers in their own currency

Top 3 ways digital payments can transform the patient experience

Hospitals face cybersecurity risks in surprising new ways