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Spollen leads seminar on protecting assets Back  
Tony Spollen’s first seminar since the Public Accounts Committee DIRT Inquiry, on May 8th at the Hibernian United Services Club, drew a capacity audience of senior business people. In the afternoon session, he spoke briefly about the PAC. While disappointed that the DIRT issue ever had to be dealt with at such a forum, he was fulsome in his praise for the manner in which it was handled by the TDs, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the people who serviced the Committee.

It was evident that while he was saddened by the approach adopted by AIB, he harboured no bad feelings for his former colleagues. He said he understood their predicament as they too were under great pressure. He felt that not everybody had recognised that they were on the Committee’s stage and if they had they might have adopted a different tone.

Earlier, Spollen concentrated on three golden rules for safeguarding assets - well-interpreted monthly management accounts, understanding staff’s real concerns and proper, updated procedures.

Hugh Governey, Chief Executive, Coyle Hamilton Group, had a message for all organisations ‘the unexpected will happen’. He told them that collecting the insurance money was the easy part of recovery from a catastrophe but damage to reputation could be ruinous.

Cormac Murphy, a partner at Arthur Andersen, gave an impassioned presentation on e-commerce. He warned that an internet presence called for more than a web page with slow downloading graphics and self-satisfying text. He said he sees too much that is only smoke and mirrors because IT people are not within the management fold.

In their presentation, Cathal O’Neill and Gearoid Brennan, former army officers and now directors of RMI, said operational risk and crisis management is about managing opportunity and taking risks rather than avoiding them. They said they had met crime that never sleeps and knows no boundaries. The internet is new territory for the fraudster, especially, because company controls and procedures are not keeping up with changes in technology.

Niall Glynn, head of human resources, ABN AMRO Bank, spoke on the threat posed by pressure, stress, and poor staff selection. In the current employment market, where the applicant is king, employers cut corners when recruiting. He espoused a return to some of the traditional methods of staff recruitment, e.g., face-to-face interviews and checking of references. He was concerned that too much was being left to IT specialists with inadequate managerial skills.

Before the seminar closed, Padraic White presented each speaker with “The Making of the Celtic Tiger”, co-authored with Ray McSharry.

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