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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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A Day in the Life: Alan Malone, manager, euro derivatives, with AIB Treasury and International Wholesale Treasury Back  
Alan Malone, manager, euro derivatives, with AIB Treasury and International Wholesale Treasury, and Hon. President of ACI Ireland, fights the traffic to juggle deals, meetings and a little volunteer work.
5.40am The alarm clock sounds and on the first ring I leap from my bed eager to seize the moment and leave not one minute of the day unused. Joy abounds and I whistle as I merrily make my way to the shower. Sorry I’ll start that again. 5.40 a.m. The alarm clock sounds and I hit the snooze button with the ferocity of a Lennox Lewis punch.

5.50am Alarm again. ‘Ok, Ok I’m getting up’. (I really must stop talking to that clock). Grudgingly I get up. I shower and dress, then settle down with a cup of coffee for a few minutes of Sky News and wait for my wife Fiona to tell me we are ready to leave.

6.20am We leave the house. Fiona works in Ulster Bank Treasury, so most mornings we travel to Dublin together. Traffic is very light this morning (you would be amazed how busy the Navan Road can be at 6.40 a.m.) so we make good progress to the city centre.

7.05am We arrive at the IFSC. I park the car in the basement and make my way to my desk in the dealing room. Trading euro interest rate derivatives for AIB is my day job. The role of President of ACI Ireland is purely voluntary. I check opening levels in European markets and browse the Reuters and Bloomberg screens for the weekend’s financial and political news. The dollar is a little weaker and equity markets are lower. A jumpy opening for the bund and Euribor futures as markets react to the comments and rumours of the previous two days. The first hour proves to be a hive of activity.

8.00am The restaurant opens downstairs, so it’s straight down in the lift for breakfast. Being something of an athlete I opt for orange juice and a bowl of grapefruit, washed down with 3 mugs of coffee and a full Irish fry.

8.15am I attend the Monday morning meeting of managers, at which we discuss our expectations for our respective markets during the week ahead. Markets are so interdependent these days that it is worth hearing all the views around the table.

8.45am I return to my desk and answer my e-mails. Then I don my ACI hat for the first time today. ACI - the Financial Markets Association - was founded in France in 1955 and is now the leading global association representing foreign exchange and money market dealers. Here in Ireland our members represent over 40 national and international financial institutions. Education is a matter of tremendous importance to ACI, and it recently published ‘The Model Code’- the most complete best practice guide for the wholesale financial markets. ACI also provides a suite of examinations aimed at both new entrants to the industry and the seasoned professional. As well as being president of our national association, I am also a member of ACI’s Board of Education. I make a call to Ann McGoff in London, who is director of operations for ACI Education. Our ‘Dealing Certificate’ is currently being updated (in consultation with the University of Reading) and we spend the next 20 minutes discussing the progress being made and the upcoming launch date for the amended exam.

9.30am Back to the grindstone. The markets are still volatile and the rest of the morning is spent trading, taking new positions whilst adding to or cutting existing ones, interacting with other members of our desk and continually monitoring price movements and other market information. And of course I am in constant contact with the AIB ‘Corporate & Commercial’ and ‘Institutional Treasury’ desks, which service our corporate, retail and institutional client base.

12.00pm Lunch. After a bowl of soup and a sandwich I go for a quick stroll around the block and it’s back to the desk.

12.30pm Back to watching the markets again. They are unusually quiet this afternoon after the morning flurry and there are no major Euro or U.S. economic figures for release until Wednesday, so it gives me some time to catch up on paperwork. More accounts and position sheets to dissect and comment upon. Also, as we have an ACI Ireland committee meeting at 4.30 p.m., I re-read the minutes of our previous meeting and ensure my notes are prepared relevant to today’s agenda.

2.00pm ‘Alan , line 515 is for you’. I pick up the flashing telephone line and hear the voice of Heering Ligthart bidding me good afternoon. The President of ACI is calling from his office in Amsterdam. Heering was to be guest of honour at our annual ball in the Slieve Russell Hotel. A tremendous supporter of ACI Ireland (even after Ireland knocked his beloved Holland out of the World Cup) he was unfortunately unable to make the trip due to unforeseen work commitments. He calls to ask how the night went and we get around to discussing upcoming ACI events. Pity he couldn’t come, as he missed a very good night.

2.30pm Time to put out the welcoming mat as we have a visit from two dealers from a German bank. As I travel abroad regularly on behalf of AIB, pressing the flesh and building up a list of business contacts, I am only too aware of what it’s like to call into a bank to visit someone you know only by name. I meet up with Eamon Brennan, our business development manager and we greet our guests and take them through to the office. I personally feel that face-to-face meetings like these are extremely important. In today’s financial markets with more and more screen-based trading, it is very easy to lose sight of the human element but I find it is often very beneficial if you know the person on the other end of a dealing screen. Obviously my work in ACI has also introduced me to a great number of market participants world-wide.

3.15pm I look through my deal sheet and ensure all trades for the day have been properly booked. Over my intercom a corporate dealer asks me for some interest rate swap prices.

4.15pm A quick word on the markets with my colleague Anne, and I make my way to the boardroom to prepare for the ACI Ireland committee meeting. The other members arrive over the next few minutes. The present committee has a good mix (male and female and the young and the not so young) and consists of eleven members from various banks and brokerage houses in Dublin. All work is voluntary, and the committee is elected at our AGM. The President normally sits for a two-year period.

4.35pm The meeting begins. Reports are given by our treasurer, our education committee and our social committee amongst others. The main topics this evening are the re-launch of our web site (www.aciireland.com) and the organisation of our next ‘club night’ when our guest speaker will be John Hurley, Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland. Assignments are set and the date and venue of our next meeting agreed. At 5.45 p.m. the meeting closes.

5.45pm I return to the dealing room to check the markets. Another day done I phone Fiona and we meet at the car. Home by 7.00 p.m.

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