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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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Making sense of the markets Back  
Grainne Alexander, director and head of marketing and client services at F&C Ireland Ltd, keeps a watchful eye on the markets as she deals with Friends First Asset Management’s rebranding campaign.
5.50am Ann Marie Kelly of Today FM invades my slumber heralding the start of another bright new day. Up and dressed and ready to go by 6.15. Pause briefly at back door to appreciate spring air and early birdsong before adding to the dawn chorus with the hum of my Alfa engine.

7am Arrive in office and greet other enthusiastic commuters. Cup of tea and croissant, I boot up Bloomberg and glance over latest market moves and developments. Quickly glance through the business papers and promise myself faithfully I will get time later to look at them in more detail. Time to review the calendar and open my emails. Fire off a round of necessary replies/actions and wait for the reactions.

8am Meet with marketing colleagues and review progress on all outstanding issues. All is in order for now. Note good feedback on new reporting format for clients.

8.30am At last can begin making phone calls and get through to real people rather than answering machines.

8.50am Management meeting: Begin final check on preparation for weekly management meeting. I have to give a report on the client service area, meetings held and upcoming, performance update and general business development. The meeting goes on for one and a quarter hours and covers a myriad of issues from asset allocation updates and financial performance to car park spaces at our proposed new home in the Harcourt Centre.

10.15am Getting back to my desk I pick up the snailmail and look through. Interesting letter from consultant asking for us to advise on strategy for a client with maturing membership. The added twist is that pensions in payment increase in line with salary inflation. Now what would my old actuarial textbooks advise on this one? Arrange to conference call with Jerry Toner our bond manager to seek advice. Check through the business invoices and approve and sign cheques for client payments.

10.30am Conference call with the marketing team in F&C Management London. We review the success of our recent rebranding campaign to F&C Ireland, marketing budgets and the upcoming investment conference at the Belfry.

10.55am Pick up my presentation slides for our client review meeting at 11.15 in Mercer. Look through to ensure all is in order and head down with Ruth O’Briain to review the client’s fund performance in the last quarter. The meeting goes well as we outline the successful F&C integration and the pick-up in recent performance as a result. Emerging at 12.30 we head for the Odeon for some nourishment.

2pm Markets meeting Jim Power updates us on latest market developments. He is just back from F&C’s monthly asset allocation meeting and we are briefed on the views emerging from this. Weekly minutes from our fund managers’ meetings are circulated and main points noted on stock and sector changes. Our big sector review this week is on technology, which concludes that we maintain our underweight positions in this sector on concern over the extent of the demand rebound priced into current stock prices.

3.00pm Back to the desk and time for an email revisit. Check through presentations diary to ensure appropriate documents are in preparation for meetings next week. Review investment outlook slides to ensure they are consistent with what has emerged at our markets meeting.

4.00pm Quick jog up the road to Bank of Ireland Asset Management where the Irish Associaiton of Investment Managers’ institutional committee is having its bi -monthly meeting. Lots of issues on the table including pension fund disclosure on commissions/costs and GIPS performance calculations. We agree to set up a sub group on the disclosure code who will liase with the Irish Association of Pension Funds to ensure all parties are happy with the conclusions.

5.00pm Return to office and survey a rake of post-its on my computer screen. Make a couple of quick return calls and then glance through screens to check how the markets are doing (not very well unfortunately). Checking through emails again when my mother calls to see if I’m coming down to ride out. Optimistically check traffic on Adelaide Road and decide to do battle.

6.20pm Arrive in Johnstown and get horse out for schooling under the appraising eye of the devoted owner (my father). With a full season of shows beckoning, preparations are well underway.

7.20pm Drive home to Daars to be greeted by my 20-month-old daughter Serena who has been waiting patiently for her mother to get home to play. We ring Daddy to see if he’s on his way too and fortunately he’s only 15 minutes away.

8.30pm After an intensive session of jigsaws and speed-reading her valued book collection, Serena is happy to retire to bed. Karl and I catch up on our respective days and discuss weekend plans as we finish getting dinner ready and then go out to greet and feed our two awaiting hounds.

9.45pm Could it be 9.45 already? Time to get ready for another day. Busy day tomorrow with briefing for Friends First in the morning on investment issues and a big client meeting in Westmeath later on. Remind myself to arrange trip to London next week to attend product development team meeting.

10.30pm Bed beckons. Time to recharge the batteries.

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