The Isle of Man’s financial services sector is holding up well - despite the widely expected recent news that another Irish bank is pulling out.
It was announced last week that the Bank of Ireland Group will close its Isle of Man branch by the end of August next year.
The bank employs 25 staff at its offices on Christian Road, Douglas. Staff will be able to apply for redeployment elsewhere in the group.
Chief Minister Allan Bell told the Examiner: ‘The decision by Bank of Ireland to withdraw had been predicted for some time and follows on from the crisis the Irish banking industry has been facing since 2008.
‘It is entirely predictable this would be the outcome. It is very sad to be saying goodbye to the Bank of Ireland which has had a long-term relationship with the island and is also very sad for the 25 people who will probably have to be relocated into new jobs. Obviously the personal impact on them will be felt for a while. It is, I’m afraid, a sign of the times.’
But Mr Bell added: ‘Our financial services industry generally is still holding up and still growing.’
He said, however, the structure of the financial services sector was likely to change in response to international pressures - including the continuing debate on offshore financial centres and the Vickers report on the restructuring of the UK banking system.
‘The Isle of Man is probably in the strongest position it possibly can be to deflect much of the pressure coming from the international community.’
In a statement, the bank said the closure of its island subsidiary was the result of a commercial decision by the group to ‘concentrate on restoring and strengthening its core businesses in UK and Irish markets’.
The spokesman said: ‘The Isle of Man subsidiary is solely a deposit gathering operation in offshore savings. Given an industry-wide decline in demand for offshore banking, the group no longer sees this market as being a core deposit focus.’
Last year, Allied Irish Bank announced it would close its island base by the end of 2013.