About Us

Mission and Objectives

The Irish Fund Directors Association (“IFDA”) is the representative body for independent directors within the Irish funds industry. Our purpose is to support the industry through the delivery of a professional and informed independent director role and to represent the interests of our members to other key stakeholders in the industry. Our objectives are to advocate industry best practice in corporate governance and board oversight and to encourage continuous professional development for fund directors

Aim Of The Association

The aim of the Irish Fund Directors Association is to represent the best interests of the membership within the Irish Funds Industry and where appropriate, within the international investment Funds Industry.


The governance of the Irish Fund Directors Association is administered by the Council. The elected Council Members also serve as Directors of the Irish Fund Directors Association Company Limited by Guarantee for the duration of their elected Council term. The Council Secretary also acts as the Company Secretary. The Memorandum & Articles of Association of the Company Limited by Guarantee is available from the Company Secretary on request.
The Council is an elected body, appointed by the membership, and consists of a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 7 members. Council members must be paid up members of the Association and be over 18 years of age. The Officers of the Council include the following:

  • The Chairperson
  •  The Deputy Chairperson
  • The Secretary
  • The Treasurer
  •  And other such officers as the Council may deem necessary from time to time.

The IFDA officers of Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer are appointed by the elected Council members. The Council meet on a monthly basis or on a basis that may be agreed to consider exceptional issues. The quorum for any meetings of the Council is 3 members. All Council meetings are minuted and shared for review before the next Council meeting. The agenda for each meeting includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Applications for membership
  • Notifications of resignations
  • Matters for consideration from the membership
  • Finances
  •  Developments within the domestic and international funds industry

The location of the Council (and Member) meetings can vary and is communicated in advance by the Secretary. Voting at the Council meetings is by show of hands on a majority basis and recorded by the Secretary. In the event of a tied vote the Chairperson shall have a second vote.
The Council has the power to set up sub-groups and working parties as deemed necessary, which are usually composed of non-Council members. These sub-groups are accountable to the Council.
The term of the Council members including the Chairperson is fixed for a period of two years and Council members are allowed to serve two terms of office.


The Irish Fund Directors Association (“IFDA”) was established in 2015 with support from the Central Bank of Ireland and from Board members in the Funds and Asset Management industry. IFDA was established by industry leaders and directors in the Irish investment funds industry to represent their interests and promote better collective standards in line with best international practice. The first IFDA Council in 2015 consisted of founding members, Fergus Sheridan, John Oppermann, Damian Keane, Fiona Mulhall and Raymond O’Neill.
IFDA already represents over 100 members currently serving on investment fund boards and management companies. The relative size of funds INED community resident in Ireland is estimated to be circa 220 people. Similar fund director associations exist in other key financial centres such as Luxembourg, Cayman and the United States of America. IFDA membership is open to anyone currently approved (or previously approved) by the Central Bank of Ireland (or an equivalent Regulator) to act as a Director of a regulated entity.
IFDA’s work to date has included matters such as: gathering members’ views on Central Bank of Ireland consultation papers (e.g. CP86, CP111, CP120) and sharing these findings with the Central Bank of Ireland; surveying members’ portfolios of directorships to obtain a clear picture of IFDA’s industry representation; and, a comprehensive program of engagement with relevant stakeholders across the investment funds industry in Ireland.
A series of what are called “Insight Sessions” for the IFDA membership also take place regularly. These take the form of short, Panel delivered information events (for circa 1 hour usually at midday) from industry experts on topics such as MIFID II, GDPR, Organisational Effectiveness, ESMA Outsourcing Guidelines, etc…..These “Insight Sessions” have proved highly popular to date.

Meet Our Council

Gary Palmer

Chairperson of the Council

Gary has spent over 25 years in the international investment funds, asset management and structured finance industry sectors in Ireland. He is currently serving as an independent non-executive director for a small number of investment funds, management and industry companies. A holder of the CIFD, Certified Investment Fund Director, Gary has recently been elected as Chair of the Irish Fund Directors Association (IFDA). He also acts as Chief Executive of the Irish Debt Securities Association (IDSA), fulfilled on a part-time basis since May 2012.

Gary enjoyed a 13-year tenure as Chief Executive of the Irish Funds Industry Association, now known as Irish Funds. In this role, he played an instrumental role in the development and global promotion of Ireland’s investment funds industry, building an active and cohesive industry network including engagement with national, European and worldwide authorities and agencies.

Gary was also an active member of many national and international committees, working groups and industry bodies. He was a director of and chaired the Valuations Committee of the European Funds and Asset Management Association (EFAMA), was a director of the US-based National Investment Company Service Association (NICSA), chaired the Investment Funds Committee within the Irish Prime Minister’s Clearing House Group, was a member of the Financial Regulator’s Consultative Industry Panel and chaired the EU and International advisory group. Further, and through the Institute of Banking, Gary has led the development of the Professional Certificate in International Investment Fund Services, the international education programme for the investment fund servicing industry.

Through his representation and participation on European, international and national committees and working groups, Gary has been afforded unique insights and a privileged network. With a career focused on productive engagement and relationships, Gary has demonstrated the benefits of industry and authority working together while remaining true to their differing mandates.

Gary holds a degree in Economics and an MBS from University College Dublin.

Lisa Martensson


Lisa Martensson is an independent director currently serving as Director and Chair on several Irish domiciled funds and fund management companies. She is elected Vice Chair to the council of the Irish Fund Directors Association (IFDA) for 2021-2022.
Lisa is a Swedish national with residency in Ireland since 2002. She left HSBC Securities Services (Ireland) DAC in 2019, where she was Chair of the board and Global Head of Client Experience. Lisa studied Economics at the University of Stockholm in Sweden and holds a Certificate and Diploma (distinction), in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors (IoD). Lisa Martensson has over 30 years' experience in the asset management, securities services, and investment funds’ industry. She held various senior executive positions within HSBC Securities Services for 17 years. From 1998 to 2001 Lisa Martensson held a position with Bank of New York in Brussels, Belgium and prior to that she worked ten years with SEB Asset Management in Sweden and Luxemburg.

Philip Craig

Council Member - Regulation & Governance

Philip Craig has worked in the fund’s industry since 1991 and is an Independent & Certified Non-Executive Fund Director. He has gained extensive knowledge in fund administration, custody, banking, financing, compliance, risk & corporate governance. He was a Director with HSBC Securities Services in Switzerland from 2011 to 2012. Between 2008 and 2011 he held the positions of Regional Director for Continental Europe, Managing Director of the Geneva office of Fortis/ABN Amro Prime Fund Solutions (“PFS”) and Interim Country Manager for Fortis in Switzerland. Between 1995 and 2008, he held the positions of Commercial Director and Head of Investor Services at PFS Ireland and was a member of both the PFS Irish Country Management Team and PFS European Regional Management Team. He also worked at Ulster Bank Investment Services in Dublin from 1993 to 1995 and with Global Asset Management (GAM) in their Isle of Man and Dublin offices from 1991 to 1992. Between 1986 and 1987, Philip worked at Colm McGeehin & Co Solicitors.

Philip was a member of the Irish Funds Industry Association Alternative Investment Committee between 2004 and 2006. He has written articles on hedge fund administration and has spoken at conferences on issues relating to fund due diligence, corporate governance and the role of the independent non-executive fund director. He has also contributed to the AIMA Guide to Sound Practices for European Hedge Fund Managers and to the original AIMA Guide to Sound Practices for Hedge Fund Administrators.

He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Economics and History) from University College Dublin in 1990. He was also granted the designation of Certified Investment Fund Director (CIFD) in 2013 by the Institute of Banking in Ireland (a recognised college of UCD) and the Irish Funds Industry Association.

Lesley Williams


Lesley is an independent non-executive director. She has over 25 years’ experience in capital markets having held senior positions with Investec Bank plc as Head of Irish Equities, Euronext Dublin (formerly the Irish Stock Exchange) as Head of Irish Market and Goodbody Stockbrokers as Head of Institutional Equity Sales. Her board positions include a number of directorships in the asset management and International fund sectors. She is a non-executive director of Irish Continental Group plc and is a past director of Dublin Port Company where she held the position of Chairperson of the Audit and Risk Committee.
Lesley is an Associate member of the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (CFA) from which she also holds the certificate in ESG investing and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment. She also holds the diploma in company direction from the Institute of Directors and a B. Comm from University College Dublin. Lesley was elected to the council of the Irish Fund Directors Association in 2020 where she holds the office of Treasurer. She also serves as a member of the Euronext ISEQ Index steering committee.

Shane Coman

Council Member - Membership Affairs

Shane is an Independent Director and Industry Consultant operating in the regulated funds sector in Ireland. Shane currently sits on the board of an Irish Super-Manco and also a diverse range of ICAVs. Shane is an active member of the Irish Fund Directors Association and has been involved in a number of IFDA working groups specifically working on consultation paper responses to the CBI.
Shane founded Nexus Governance Limited in 2017. Nexus Governance is a consulting company focused on providing operational risk and governance advisory services to clients in the international funds industry.
Shane has extensive experience in fund service operations having performed executive roles at both JP Morgan and BNY Mellon. From 2015 to 2017 while employed by BNY Mellon, Shane was responsible for the delivery of fund accounting and administration services in EMEA and was also a board member of BNY Mellon Fund Services Ireland DAC.
Shane holds an MBA from the University of Melbourne (2008) and a BSc Finance from University College Cork (1999).

Fiona Ross

Council Member - Diversity & Inclusion

Fiona Ross is an exceptionally experienced public and private sector Chair and Non-Executive Director, having served on 17 Boards in Ireland and the UK over the past ten years. In addition to currently serving on a range of UK and Irish Boards in 2018 she was appointed by the Irish Government to Chair Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) Ireland’s public transport provider and to the Board of the HSE Ireland's public health service. In May 2019 Fiona was appointed a Non-Executive Director at The Scottish Government. Fiona was appointed by the UK Government to serve on the Board of Network Rail in May 2020. She also has Central Bank of Ireland authorisation (UCIT and MIFID) and serves as a non-executive director at JK Funds Smith and Williamson Europe where she chairs the Audit and Risk committee and SphereInvest.

Fiona began her career as a stockbroker in the City of London and spent 25 years working in all areas within Capital Markets in Dublin, London, Eastern Europe and the United States.

In 2010, Fiona was appointed by the Minister for Arts to run Ireland’s National Library, the NLI where she successfully served two terms as Director/CEO. Subsequently Fiona continued her interest in the Arts and joined the Heaney family as a Non-Executive Director to help establish the Heaney literary estate and was the Founding Director of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. EPIC was recently voted Europe's leading attraction for 2019.

Fiona is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Queen's University Belfast and the Institute of Art and Design (IADT) where in 2017 she completed a MSc in Cyber Psychology. In 2012 Fiona was awarded a fellowship in Governance at George Washington University in the United States.

Kieran Walsh

Council Member - Stakeholder Engagement

• Managed €250Bn fixed income portfolio and supporting funding & derivatives.
• Expert knowledge of portfolio & risk management, liquidity and capital obligations 30 years’ experience executive, board and management
• Managed 8 separate teams in 6 locations.
• Approved for board membership and authorised positions in Ireland, Germany, UK & USA
• ALCO, Remuneration, Audit & EXCO Committees’ experience
• Corporate governance understanding, being an executive board member through a bail out, extensive restructuring.
• Part of executive team during sales process, meeting potential buyers of Bank & non-executive during the sale of Depfa First Albany

Technical Skill Set
• Deep knowledge of all financial instruments from money markets to undated subordinated, secured and unsecured aligned with an understanding international debt markets investors’ preferences and requirements
• Risk management expertise including all strategic, market & credit, governance and operational risks.
• Highly numerical having written derivative pricing and risk models in C++ and VBA.
• Qualified Accountant with practical experience in preparation of budgets and forecasts
• Managed several trading books running proprietary credit and market positions.
• Structuring expertise around ABS and Covered Bond covenant obligations
• Complete review of all operational processes and controls and implementation of new process and controls for front and middle office framework
• Setting risk appetite and manging to VaR limits at a balance sheet level down to component book level.
• Project Management experience derived from various initiatives including developing an IT solution from first principals and its implementation in sophisticated institutions and various projects for the restructuring of the Depfa balance sheet post bail-out including the transfer of €200Bn of assets to a German Government entity.

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