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Attracting pan-European clients is vital for the investment business says Des Doran

It may seem like very early time to be getting up in the morning when I don’t have to leave for work for another hour and a quarter but with three women in the house it is a struggle to use the bathroom.

Before I leave home I look in on the internet over a cup of tea. This gives me the opportunity to catch up with events in Asian markets overnight which can very often have a sufficient impact on European and U.S. marks during the day. I also find the Irish newspaper websites quite useful as a way of getting quickly up to speed with the issues that are important domestically.

I normally drive into work, none of this healthy walking or cycling nonsense for me. I live about five miles from the office just on the fringes of Edinburgh. The journey is enlivened as usual by my 10 year old son - I have to drop him off to school in the centre of town. Thankfully the city traffic moves much better than that in Dublin and I can usually make the journey in about twenty minutes.

I am at my desk and am getting into my Reuters pages. This is an opportunity to update myself on the Asian markets most of which are coming to a close now and get the first feel for the stock and bond mrkets of Europe as they begin to open. Usually my fax and e-mail are stuffed full of domestic and global stockbroker comments on the behaviour of financial markets over the previous twenty-four hours. I have to wonder do these guys ever get any sleep.

Right now my Irish investment team colleagues and I take time out to have a relatively brief exchange of views and observations on markets. From this brief discussion we will decide on what input we wish to make to the organisations morning meeting which will begin shortly.

I attend our morning meeting which is the daily meeting of investment managers and directors at Standard Life Investments to examine the global economic, political and market events of the previous twenty four hours in light of the current investments strategy being pursued by Standard Life Investments. It is impossible to over-emphasise the importance of this half-hour. A recent key issue was the conflicting signals coming out of Japan regarding the intentions of the bank of Japan in respect of monetary policy. Opinion is divided between ‘inscrutable’ and ‘incompetent’. This one looks set to run for a while.

It is about time for a walk outside the building. I like a bit of fresh air - and nicotine.
This is the time of the day when we religiously have a look at the funds that we manage on behalf of our Irish clients. This involves a number of tasks. First we have to check and sign off on the currency and stock deals completed during the previous day by our twelve portfolio managers.
Next we make sure that the funds continue to be invested where we want them invested and decide on whether we need to make any changes based
on any new information that has come to light.

I have got a group of German visitors in the office today.
In addition to our Irish business, I am also responsible for the funds which we sell to our Spanish and German clients. We are looking at ways to develop our business in Germany, hence my delegation today. Quick change of language and terminology - makes me wish I spoke more German at home. As usual I forget the grammar and concentrate on explaining the facts. Seems to go well although I still have the usual questions on why equities tend to outperform bonds over the longer term - not something which has historically been the case in low inflation, shareholder unfriendly Germany.

An opportunity to get back to the desk and catch up on how markets are behaving this morning. Across Europe its been relatively quiet. Ireland’s been out performing. Now that’s been a rarity during 1999.

- It’s off to Turkey. One of my colleagues on our emerging markets team is doing a presentation to all interested parties on the Turkish economy and stockmarket. I am keen to attend, as are my colleagues because Turkey could very well be a stockmarket that will be of growing interest to us over the next pm

Time for a sandwich from the canteen. Not bad, pastrami with pickle.

This is the time of day when financial markets begin to focus on the U.S. The tone in Europe seems to have taken a turn for the worst. We just had economic data out of the US which seems to spell bad news for interest rates so we are now expecting Wall Street to open lower.

Just had a call from one of my colleagues in Montreal who covers the US market for us. They have just had their morning meeting and are now ‘looking forward’ to a weak day in the US.

As expected the US market opens in a weak tone. It’s time for another meeting this time with Paul Sweetnam, my Irish equities portfolio manager who is going to brief us on the latest developments in the Irish stockmarket.

My German visitors have been meeting with various people in our organisation who will be helpful in mapping a way forward for our business in Germany. I have promised to take them on a tour of our new building - 1 George Street, Edinburgh. It’s a beautiful building, which has been recently renovated to house Standard Life Investments our new investment company. As usual, our visitors are intrigued by the various electronic toys, like Moneymate, Datastream or Reuters, that we get to play with on our desks.

It is getting close to the end of our day here in Europe. Most of the European markets are now closed having fallen further from this morning on a now quite weak US market. Never mind, these markets will probably be all up tomorrow. That is what’s been happening recently. Everything has been so volatile. This is the time of day when I have to sign off on the prices of our funds, which will become public in Ireland tomorrow.

I meet with my boss along with my colleagues who are responsible for other business areas within Standard Life Investments. Today we are discussing industry trends in the corporate pensions market and how we might further develop our business in this area.

Its time to head for home I promised my wife that I will try to be on time this evening.
Yes, I’m afraid my day isn’t over yet. It’s my turn to take the night-time call from my colleagues in Montreal. The US market is just closed and it is my turn to be briefed on the events of today so that I can report to our morning meeting tomorrow morning. It’s been a weak day in the US.

Feel a bit weak myself, think I’ll get off to bed.

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