Half of senior managers in the country's financial services firms feel talent and skills will be the biggest challenge facing the sector this year, a new survey shows.

The survey was conducted by Financial Services Ireland (FSI), the Ibec group representing the financial services sector.

It reveals that the sector believes that talent pool, skills base and retaining employees will be major issues in 2022.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, competitiveness and Brexit were raised by far fewer respondents.

50% of respondents cited talent and skills as the biggest challenge facing their businesses in 2022, while Covid-19 is cited by 20% as the biggest area of concern, followed by competitiveness (9%) and Brexit (4%).

But despite these challenges, 95% of those surveyed said they expected their business to grow this year.

80% of respondents also believe Ireland will continue to be an attractive location for foreign direct investment in the financial services, based on the sector's resilient response to Covid-19.

Sustainable finance, fintech and digitally enabled financial services were identified by most respondents as the biggest areas of growth in the sector in the future with asset management and international insurance also cited.

FSI Director Paul Sweetman said today's survey shows a resilient, ambitious and hopeful financial services sector.

"With the vast majority of our members expecting to grow in the next 12 months, it is not surprising that talent and skills - central to delivering that growth - is top of mind," Mr Sweetman said.

He said that one of FSI's goals is for Ireland to become a global leader for talent and skills.

"To achieve this, Ireland must increase the talent pipeline - from both home and abroad - to meet industry's current and future needs. This will require the right suite of education courses, upskilling and reskilling programmes, further work permit and visa reform and, an improvement in quality of life and associated infrastructure," he added.