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Thursday, 18th April 2024
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From dealing desk to bookshelf Back  
Since taking his place on the best-seller lists, Paul Kilduff has had to learn
the art of juggling two entirely different careers
.8.00 am.
Having spent six years commuting to work on the tube in the City of London in all weathers, I find commuting in Dublin to be far less of a strain. I am fortunate to live near to our offices at the Treasury Building on Lower Grand Canal Street. I drive to work but I should walk.

.8.20 am.
Like so many others, my first daily task is to attack the wave of overnight incoming emails. The first enquiries each day about Dublin€s operations come from our colleagues in the US and Asia. Our office is very much part of a truly integrated global investment bank. Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. opened a capital markets bank in Dublin€s IFSC in 1995 and our presence there has grown considerably. We primarily engage in swap and other derivative transactions with corporate and institutional clients in Europe and Asia. We have a hundred staff in Dublin and a billion dollar balance sheet.

.9.00 am.
I plan my day in advance and rely heavily on Bill Gates€s Outlook to prioritise and schedule events. I prepare for meetings and conference calls. My responsibility is to manage the Control Group in the Bank. There are sixteen in my team and we perform operational control for all the Dublin based activities and for some overseas Merrill Lynch derivative activities. No matter how complex a structured derivative or loan transaction is, the trade essentially consists of a series of cash flows. Get the trade bookings and the resultant cash flows correct and you are in good shape. That€s essentially what we aim to do. It€s often a case of €Show me the Money€ like in the €Jerry Maguire€ movie.

.9.15 am.
I focus on today€s issues. These are never the same. Most of our working day consists of resolving money. Counterparties can pay us in error or not pay us at all. Money can be held up in the banking system. There so much cash going around the world every day that it can be scary to the uninitiated. A billion is called a Yard. When you resolve a Yard of Yen it€s satisfying. Resolving a Yard of Dollars is even better. We focus on larger value and older items and telephone counterparties, other Merrill offices and correspondent banks all over the world to get a result. We have comprehensive control and MIS systems so that we know what is outstanding at any point of time. We have set demanding standards for resolution of items and we strive to meet them.

.11.00 am.
Operations Managers meeting. We discuss progress on many projects. We€ve grown the operations function in Dublin in the past six months by transferring some functions from London. Future similar migrations are likely. We discuss human resources and recruitment issues. We€ve been fortunate to hire some excellent recent graduates. Many of them have gone on to successful careers in other offices of Merrill. It€s a satisfying feeling to hire someone and see them successfully develop their career within Merrill. It€s one of the best non-monetary rewards that any manager can get. We discuss Y2K issues and who has drawn the short straw to work on next New Years€ Day. I€m one. Merrill was fully compliant for Y2K purposes last June so we know we are in good shape globally.

.11.45 am.
More emails, but this time with a difference. Since I started my writing career there are some occasional distractions at work, but don€t tell my boss. I get some emails each day either from my literary agent in London, from my publishers in the UK and Europe, or from publicity and media people. They are mostly about upcoming arrangements, bookshop visits or signings, press reviews, sales figures, proposed book covers and copy, interviews and everything else that goes with writing commercial fiction. I enjoy the variety but work matters more. Honest!
One of the hazards of having a writing and a banking career is the demand it makes on time. I used a significant chunk of annual holidays to promote €Square Mile€ in London and Europe. I€ve enjoyed the interviews, particularly on the Sky TV Bookshow. A press piece in the London Evening Standard about financial books featured a photograph of me beside a photograph of Nick Leeson. I am not sure this was a good career move in investment banking on my part. I€ve learnt a lot about the publishing industry and all the jargon in the past year. The term best seller is much abused but we can use it for Square Mile because it entered the UK hardback fiction best-seller list at number 37 in its first week of sales in June.

Dublin colleagues gave me a positive reaction when the book news broke. Some didn€t believe me when I told them. Others thought that someone with the same name as me had written the book. Word spread around the firm. I€ve had messages of congratulations from people that I€ve never met from our offices all over the globe. When I am in the London office, total strangers sometimes offer me feedback on the book and ask me when the next one is due. Sometimes it€s quite bizarre.

.12.35 pm.
Lunch is usually early in the bank€s in-house restaurant. It€s a good chance to take a break and meet others in the bank informally for a chat about events. I am amazed what can be gleaned over a poached salmon fillet and a Coke as opposed to a formal meeting sometimes.

.2.00 pm.
Conference call with one of our overseas branches. The bank in Dublin has opened up five branches in Frankfurt, Tokyo, Milan, Johannesburg and Labuan. My responsibilities include an oversight of operational control in these offices so I get to travel to these locations on a regular basis. It€s vital to meet your peer group face to face rather than merely relying on conference calls and email correspondence to stay in touch in a business as fast as this.

.2.45 pm.
Plan an upcoming day trip to our London office. I usually take a Cityjet flight at 7.15am which is great in sunny July but it sure isn€t much fun in darkest December. Their in-flight magazine profiled €Square Mile€ last month so I have to stay loyal to their ever-punctual service to London City Airport. Passing through airports is a real hazard for new authors because you spend too much time looking to in bookshops to see how your book is doing. Sometimes I ask bookshop mangers for an update. A few weeks ago I was in Books Etc in Bradgate in London and Square Mile was their number 8 best-selling fiction title three months after publication date.

.3.00 am.
I convene the bank€s New Product Committee meeting. I am the committee co-ordinator and we discuss new business proposals from the Dublin head office and our branches. There€s usually a full attendance from all the critical support functions in the bank; credit risk, operations, finance, systems, treasury, corporate audit, legal, regulatory and market risk.

.4.15 pm.
I have a look at what€s happening in world markets. We have a sales team in the office selling US products to domestic investors. They have all the Bloomberg and Reuters screens you need. Our business thrives when the markets are bullish so it€s always good to see the FTSE or the Dow on an upward trend. Long may this continue, but perhaps without the current volatility.

.5.00 am.
Meet some visitors from debt derivative operations in London. We get many overseas visitors to the bank. Most are from Merrill London, New York or our bank branches. Others are from various regulators, auditors and the correspondent banks we use overseas. We make sure to entertain overseas colleagues. A night out in Caf© en Seine or Kehoe€s, with a bite to eat in La Stampa or Fitzers, gives them a favourable impression of how good a place Dublin is in which to work and live. It never ceases to amaze me how much Dublin has changed of late. When I left for London ten years ago, there were no jobs, no IFSC, no property boom and everyone didn€t have a mobile telephone and a BMW.

.6.30 pm.
I am not a great believer in putting in long working days. Back in the City of London it seemed that some colleagues stayed late so they wouldn€t be the first to leave for home. 8.30 am to 6.30 pm is a ten hour day and that€s enough for me. Concentration and energy levels wane after that. That way too, you are ready for the new challenges next day.

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