One of the most challenging aspects of setting up a business in Ireland today is opening a business bank account. This can be as true for a domestic business as for an international business however for those based abroad it can be particularly demanding. There are a number of reasons for this principally the difficulty in satisfying the particular banks KYC (Know your client) and AML (Anti Money laundering) requirements.
The reality here is that many of these provisions and rules were brought in to rightly shore up illegal and questionable activities being conducted however what we see happening now is that these regulations are being used on all types of businesses. In my opinion, it is the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
The demands that are placed on potential customers in the current climate make it very difficult to open an account in what are known as the main pillar commercial banks if the proposal has any international or non-run of the mill flavour to it. We have over the past year encountered significant hurdles ranging from language problems, to face to face meeting requirements to cultural differences that can all lead to frustration for the client.
While we in Roberts Nathan have a very high success rate it can take some time and anyone looking at potentially setting up a business/ company in Ireland would need to bear this in mind and allow for 6/8 weeks for the whole process to arrive at the point where the account is fully opened and online banking access operational.
There is a simpler and easier set up option being the use of one the newer online banking platforms which we have considerable experience in but this may not be suitable for all types of entities – in particular if one is involved in multiple currency and or significant wire transfer transactions. If this can be made to work it can short circuit a lot of problems and time for the client.
Why is this happening one asks?
It is not a uniquely Irish problem – certainly our experience with other jurisdictions would indicate to us that similar issues are felt across Europe, The USA, Asia and beyond. One of the key factors here is that the banks systems and software simply have not kept pace with technology and it seems that there is significant underinvestment here. In addition the lack of being able to directly liaise with the compliance officers within the bank is also an issue – in the most part one deals with a relationship manager employed by the bank who acts as the go between.
It is hard to provide a roadmap or blueprint as to how to navigate this process as each case is very individual but over the past 20 years we have encountered almost all circumstances so a brief initial consultation with us on the matter should enable us to tease out what is required for your business or entity. It is certainly true that having an Irish resident director (which we can provide) helps no matter what the circumstances.
Once the hard part of opening the business bank account has been achieved it’s operation is very straightforward and the online platforms for the three main pillar banks in Ireland are robust and easy to use. It should also be noted that Ireland is viewed very favourably internationally so it is akin to someone having a powerful passport in the business world.
We would be delighted to discuss in further detail any queries you may have here on a one to one basis – in terms of fees it is challenging to be precise as the specifics of cases vary however once we have had the initial consultation we will be able to provide this prior to any engagement.