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Monday, 22nd April 2024
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Running treasury Back  
As chief executive officer of Bank of Ireland Treasury & International, Mick Sweeney’s hectic day involves running from meeting to meeting while keeping track of the markets.
6am Out of bed and stumbling onto Sandymount beach for an early morning jog. Yes, it is an unearthly hour but there is no better way to start the day. Five miles later, the obligatory shower and shave and quick bowl of porridge while catching up on early morning Bloomberg TV. Where did the Japanese markets open? Where are the currencies dealing after the weekend? What’s the opening call on equities? Where are the bond markets starting the week? What is the tone for interest rates for the coming week? Ready to roll...

7:30am Hit the road. Short trip to the office, no road rage, and no congestion. Colvill House in Talbot Street is home to Treasury & International. We are a team of nearly 600 in total and are a significant contributor to Bank of Ireland’s bottom line.

7:45am Scan the financial pages of the newspapers, anything happening? Any customer business in the news? Any major economic news out this week?

8:15am A quick tea and toast with ‘the great’ Dr. Dan (Dr. Dan McLaughlin, our chief economist) and Austin Jennings, head of our customer business. At this hour of the morning, Dan𠆙s only interest is to try to convince us that Manchester United will win the Treble this year. We laugh and head back to reality.

8:30am Kiera, my P.A. goes through my diary for the day and the week. It doesn’t really matter what’s scheduled because life in treasury is unpredictable. However, we try to put some sense around the day and week. This is a busy week. Tomorrow I am on the red eye to Bristol. We have a small treasury activity there with ambitious plans to grow our UK customer business. Wednesday is wall-to-wall meetings back at base on all facets of our business interrupted by lunch with my favourite broker on Dawson Street. Thursday entails strategy meetings at head office in Baggot Street with Denis Donovan, head of wholesale financial services and Friday, hopefully will afford me the time to clear the emails, the desk and some of the growing pending file. That’s the plan!

8:45am Time to check the overnight and early morning emails. ABN’s overnight update on the world economic affairs is a ‘must read’. Markets are moving. Euro is strengthening, sterling is weakening, European equities are up 2 per cent this morning, bonds are flat and short interest rates are a smidgen higher.

9:00am Time to check all our overnight risk positions. We have a great team of traders who are constantly trying to ‘out-wit’ the markets and predict where financial asset prices are heading and they are the best in town at it. We manage the interest rate and foreign exchange risk on behalf of the bank and our customers. We also manage the Bank of Ireland’s liquidity requirements. So we handle some very sizeable trades and the ‘throughput’ of business through our treasury on a daily basis is enormous. For example, our head of payments, Deirdre Germaine and her team handle •8 billion of payments on a daily basis. Is this why I am finding it hard to sleep???

9:30am Time to get out of the office and hit the dealing room. We have a team of over 100 in our dealing room, 70 sales and 40 risk managers (traders). We manage a balance sheet of over •50 billion. Dan McLaughlin, our resident economics guru resides on the trading floor too. Meet with Sean Crowe, head of trading. Sean and his team manage the risk. He updates me on weekend and overnight movements in markets and their impact on our positions. The traders have done well.
10:00am Meet with Austin Jennings and discuss customer activity with him. Customers are hedging their interest rate risk at these low levels of interest rates. Dr. Dan is advising them. We have just won one large multinational deal that we have been anticipating for the last month. Our sales teams have two goals, firstly, to understand our customers business intimately and secondly, to aggressively compete for all business opportunities and this they accomplish with aplomb! All is good so far. Volatility in markets is good for treasuries. Our job is to exploit opportunities.

10:30am Walk around the dealing room and chat to traders and sales people. Get a feel for what is happening on the ground. John Moclair, head of our domestic business says his customers are waiting for sterling to weaken further. Dave Tilson (a legend at Bohemians FC!) tells me he sees bonds falling further in price and he is positioned to make money if it happens. He does not see me cross my fingers but then I need not, he has a good track record. He informs me he will be quoting for a •250m 10-year swap deal later in the day. Mental note to check in with him later.

11:00am Back to my office. IT Strategy meeting scheduled with Lorcan Connolly and his team. We discuss and debate all IT strategic projects and where they are at. The business and IT work ‘hand in glove’.

12 midday Time to talk to my finance and risk man, Pat Kilbane. He is responsible for market, credit, legal and operational risk. No major issues to report. We discuss compliance issues. This area is high on all treasury agendas. He reminds me of a cap-ex paper which we must submit to head office by Wednesday. That means it must be done today.

12:30pm Where did the morning go? Meeting head of Bank of Ireland Life for lunch to discuss growing business opportunities between us. We need to be first to market to deliver products to his customers. Quick lunch and back.

1:45pm Back in the office, Kiera updates me on calls. Two London investment banks have called. One to set up a meeting on Basle 2 and the other who undoubtedly will strive to enthrall me with their ‘acrament’!

2:00pm Meeting with Jane Flynn, our marketing guru. Meeting interrupted by Sean Crowe who needs to discuss a large deal with me. He needs me to sanction the deal. It’s good. As per normal he has all the angles covered. Back to marketing. We are finalising our UK marketing plan before tomorrow’s visit.

2:45pm Orla Cunningham, head of customer services informs me that our upgrading of SWIFT (our payments system) went well. Orla’s team is the backbone of our business.

3:00pm Quick trip to see Dave Tilson. Quoted tight price and duly won the deal. Competing against two London investment banks… never doubted him!

3:15pm Meeting with our head of human resources to discuss recruitment. We have a lot of growth initiatives on the ‘boil’ and need to hire some key people. We have strong interest from our FT advert. We also discuss one of our (and the bank’s) key people initiatives - ‘improving employee engagement’... this is a critical project.

4:00pm A quick tea and email review. Updates on risk, reports on large deals and large credits, P&L updates etc. Interrupted by calls from UK headhunters (they have the ‘ideal’ people for us.... they have seen our FT advert obviously!) and another investment bank with a ‘deal made in heaven’.

5:00pm Things winding down. Time to get some reading done… strategy papers for tomorrow, credit papers for Wednesday and ALCO papers for Wednesday afternoon; so many rainforests damaged!

6:00pm Austin Jennings drops in for a chat on some of his sales initiatives. There is a lot happening and his team is ‘buzzing’. Servicing customers is the lifeblood of our business. Good finish to the day.

6:30pm We both agree, ‘Get a life and go home’.

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