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Irish banks known for excellence worldwide - Hourihan Back  
Bank of Ireland was the first Irish Harvard business case
Speaking after the Davos meeting to Finance, Hourihan said that Irish banks are viewed by international bankers as very well-managed. ‘They would be known for their consistent profit margins and for their skill in going into targeted sectors in new markets.’

Is the concentration on internet banking under-valuing Irish bank stock prices? ‘I’m not an equity analyst, but I do think there is value in Irish bank stocks now. The internet is good for Irish banks. They have suffered in the past from their small geographic spread. The internet destroys geography, so it represents an opportunity for banks that were previously constrained - but that opportunity has to be grasped’.

‘The two main Irish banks are addressing the internet as an oppportunity for global reach, not as a threat. Bank of Ireland deserves full credit for its F-sharp business in the Isle of Man.’

‘AIB has demonstrated a significant competence in merger execution, from First Maryland in the US to its activities in Poland’.

To mark how times have changed, he said, ‘when I went to Harvard, there was no business case on the excellence of management at any Irish company. Now there is one on Bank of Ireland’s internet strategy - which led in part to F-sharp.’

This sort of development gives Irish banks global reach. ‘Recently, a director of a Singaporean bank told me that he had lost some of his best asset management customers to an Irish-based bank in the Isle of Man. The world has become very small in banking and finance.’

David Holden of Bank of Ireland confirmed to Finance, that F-sharp has generated level of interest internationally from people who would not have noted Irish banking developments. ‘Our international press cutting service has been sending us a number of cuttings every week almost since the launch of the product. There is very widespread recognition of the fact that it is a world first’ he said.

Anthony Hourihan graduated from UCD and went straight on to study for an MBA in Wisconsin the United States and then a Ph.D at Harvard Business School.

He joined the faculty of Harvard Business School and taught the MBA and advanced management courses in the area of strategic management. His specialism is the banking sector globally. He is now Professor in the Management of Financial Institutions at the Smurfit Graduate School of Business at UCD in Blackrock. He is also visiting professor at London Business School and at Insead in France.

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