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Dealer of the Year 1999 Back  
The annual IACT 'Dealer of the Year' Awards were announced at the end of November. We asked the winners to recall their best (and in some cases worst) advisory calls of 1999.
John Moclair is Head of Sales at BNP. Prior to joining BNP in 1995, he worked as a consultant with FTI Finance in the treasury and corporate finance areas. His treasury career started in ESB Group Treasury in 1987, where he was involved in developing strategies to assist in the management of ESB's currency and debt portfolios. John is a member of the IACT, the UK ACT and is a qualified management accountant (CIMA). Since joining BNP he has won the IACT Dealer of the Year award on three occasions.

BNP is very pleased to have been awarded 2nd Runner Up in the Institution of the Year for the second year in succession and number one in Derivatives. Hopefully, this is a recognition of the efforts we have made in recent years to enhance our team and also of the benefits that a major global bank , with a strong local presence, can bring to its clients. We would like to thank our clients for their continued support.

In retrospect, 1999 will be remembered as the year when fundamental changes in the Treasury business began to take hold. EMU significantly reduced fx volumes, on line trading activity increased and disintermediation became more widespread. On the surface these developments represent good news for the end user while posing challenges for the banking community.

The main challenge for intermediaries is to continue to add value to its customers finance activities. With this in mind, we believe that the integration of Paribas into BNP is a positive development. It will further enhance our capital markets capabilities where Paribas is recognised as a world leader.

John Kelly is a senior dealer on the corporate sales desk in Bank of Ireland Treasury. He joined the dealing room in 1988 and has worked in corporate sales since 1989, specialising in foreign exchange. Prior to Treasury, John worked for two years in Bank of Ireland International Banking and spent a short period of time in branch banking.

His worst call for 1999 was that the introduction of the Euro would create stable FX market conditions and that the Irish market would have an oversupply of corporate dealers. He is happy to have got that call wrong.

We are facing into the new millenium with both the Dollar and Sterling riding high against the Euro. Some of the recent USD strength may be attributed to safe haven buying due to Y2K concerns. Also, the current economic fundamentals suggest that the Dollar and Sterling deserve a stronger rating than the Euro. However, we should see a narrowing of the economic growth rates between the Euroland countries (in particular Germany and Italy) and the US in the first half of 2000 as the Euroland recovery gathers pace and the recent Fed rate hikes begin to impact on the US economy. As a result we would expect to see a gradual recovery of the Euro's fortunes againg the Dollar. Current USD strength should be explored by exporters.
The outlook for Sterling in 2000 is quite rosy given current economic conditions and upward interest rate pressure. However, we expect to see it weaken gradually as the Euro recovers and like the Dollar, current strength should be seen as a good selling opportunity for exporters

Kieran Ferguson joined Bank of Ireland as one of the first group of Bank Assistants in 1988. Starting in the branch network , he has been exposed to a wide variety of different areas of the Bank having also worked in International Banking both in Head Office and also in the I.F.S.C. Moving to Bank of Ireland Treasury in 1995 he was initially working in the Off-shore Banking Unit before finally moving to the Corporate Sales Group in 1996, where he is currently a principal dealer, specialising in both FX & Interest rate products.

With interest rates reaching their lows during the summer months and an upward trend becoming more and more evident it was an opportune time for Treasurers to lock in their borrowings and to avail of relatively cheap funding. Our Interest Rate Conference in March '99 made a strong reccommendation on fixed rate borrowings and many of our Corporate Customers took advantage of this.

We are now firmly in an environment of increasing interest rates. Looking at current yield curves depositors might think about looking at longer dated FRA's to utilise the high yields available. Diversification will also become a key factor with the Corporate Treasurer seeking enhanced yields. We would see this as an opportune time to invest in higher yielding Corporate Commercial Paper which may involve a slightly higher risk factor.

Brian Kelleher, Dealer of the Year 1998, 2nd overall Dealer of the year 1999, & winner of the Customer Services Category in 1999. has been part of the AIB Treasury for the past 13 years. Interests include golfing at Luttrellestown Castle in Dublin & at Tralee Golf Club in Kerry. Brian has a keen interest in all sporting activities especially Gaelic Football and Hurling.
On reflection, Brian agrees that the creation of the I.F.S.C. complex has been a tremendous success for Dublin. " It has brought the Foreign Exchange & Money Markets to a central location & that can only be good for the Corporate Treasurer."
High quality Customer Service, Brian sees as a crucial part of the current market. Customers require a speedy & comprehensive service in dealing and also a prompt follow up to any potential queries.

Our best call for 1999 was the view of a prolonged period of low Euro Interest Rates that prevails in Ireland at present. " The low interest rate environment has given a real impetus to our economy with Business Interests & the personal sector benefiting from reduced borrowing costs." The lower tax rates payable by the personal sector has also been a significant factor.

With European polititions & European Central Bank members showing little upset at the relative weakness of the Euro Currency, it may well transpire that this currency will remain low vs GBP & USD, especially over the Millenium & the early part of next year. However, most historic information shows that Foreign Exchange cycles do in fact turn & it is a matter of time before the Euro begins to show signs of a more permanent appreciation.The Corporate Treasurer should, when identyfing FX exposures ,utilise some hedging strategy. It may not be necessary to hedge complete exposures but trading margins can be eroded very quickly in volatile Foreign Exchange markets

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