Joe Moynihan: “The advent of greater automation and AI tools should drive better decision-making.”


4 min read

Joe Moynihan is CEO at Jersey Finance which represents and promotes over 170 financial services firms in Jersey. He is also a non-executive director at JT (Global) Ltd and was previously CEO of Allied Irish Banks in the Channel Islands & Isle of Man, and CEO of RAK International Corporate Centre. Here, he shares his expectations for how technology will continue to transform financial services, and explains how Jersey Finance helps to ensure that Jersey’s financial services ecosystem remains competitive.

What are your hopes and ambitions for Jersey Finance?

Put simply, our mission is to ensure that we successfully promote Jersey as an international finance centre of excellence and that we’re adequately representing the industry. We take these responsibilities seriously – the financial services ecosystem is extremely important for the island, providing a great deal of direct employment and support to sectors like hospitality and tourism, so it matters to the island that this thrives. Perhaps surprisingly, we work beyond our island’s shores with boots on the ground in other key markets, like London, New York, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Singapore, to ensure our promotional work has as far reach as possible.

“It matters to the island that this thrives.”

A key part of remaining relevant as a jurisdiction and to our members is keeping a close eye on trends. For instance, we’ve seen the importance of ESG skyrocket up the agenda over the last five years, which prompted us to do some work to support our members on this topic. In particular, the private wealth sector is showing much more interest in ESG than before, as the next generation is even more keen to ensure that the value they receive from family or inherited wealth chimes with their own personal values.

If you could wave a magic wand to change a piece of regulation to support business and Jersey, what would you do?

Regulation: it isn’t going away. In fact, it’s only going to increase. About twenty years ago, the regulators on the island started introducing regulation and legislation faster than a lot of other jurisdictions – and at the time, it did have an impact. Events, however, show that they were the right decisions and today we find ourselves in a more favourable position than a great deal of our competitors.

So, in recent years I’ve been reminded that regulation is usually introduced for a very good reason. We’re also in the favourable position where Jersey Finance actually has a relationship with the regulator and can talk to them; we don’t always see eye to eye and there’s always going to be some element of tension, but I think that’s the sign of a healthy relationship.

Over the coming years, how do you think technology innovation will impact financial services?

I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and the extent to which technology has transformed it over the past ten or twenty years has been phenomenal. Take retail banking, for example, and ask yourself when you were last in a bank branch. We all used to visit bank branches regularly, but you don’t need to anymore thanks to the changes brought about by mobile banking.

Looking forward, I expect AI and automation will have a big impact as they have the potential to make the industry significantly more productive. From a board’s perspective, the advent of greater automation and AI tools should drive better decision-making, because we’ll have access to better data that’s presented in a clearer way, with more informed insight.

“They have the potential to make the industry significantly more productive.”

That said, I don’t expect automation and AI to drastically reduce headcount – we’re still going to need people to intelligently analyse that data, and to do so more intelligently than we’re able to today with these new tools and automations. I expect it will give businesses the capacity to do more, which should hopefully help them to take advantage of the full range of business opportunities available.

What are the social and economic issues that keep you awake at night?

From a macro perspective, my major concerns are around geopolitical stability and the extent to which this has deteriorated in recent years. I doubt that this will change much, but given the sheer breadth of expertise on the island – encompassing leading law firms, top accountancies, great corporate service providers, quality banks, and so on – Jersey is in a good position to offer institutional investors a stable platform. And, when combined with an independent, experienced judiciary overseeing good quality legislation that picture becomes even clearer; all the complementary aspects of Jersey’s financial services ecosystem provide the basis for a great deal of confidence in the jurisdiction.

“The complementary aspects of Jersey’s financial services ecosystem provide the basis for a great deal of confidence in the jurisdiction.”

The rising levels of social inequality also play on my mind. As the largest industry on the island, financial services provide significant levels of employment and tax revenue; our member firms also do a lot of charity work across the island. Unfortunately, as a recipient of government funding we – Jersey Finance – can’t donate money to charities as it isn’t our money to give, but we can provide time, expertise, and brain power. A few years ago, we adopted a charity and we provide them with help in areas such as marketing and accountancy skills.

Ultimately, everyone on the island has a shared interest in Jersey’s success – both from a financial and social point of view – therefore, we should absolutely try to help where we can.

What book is on your bedside table?

The Great Imperial Hangover by Samir Puri, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I would say it’s a history of the world but with a focus on how the legacies of colonial empires have shaped and continue to shape the world we live in today. It’s a great read.

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