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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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A Day in the Life of a Treasurer Back  
As a Leeds fan, John Coffey, deputy general manager, treasury, at BNP Paribas Dublin, doesn’t have much to be happy about this season, but he is making up for this in his working life. 2003 was a particularly good year for the French bank, but 2004 will be more difficult, as the imminent arrival of IAS 39 will mitigate against the normal ‘macro-hedging’ approach of a bank treasury and is likely to create more volatility in the bank's results.
6.15 am - The alarm goes off. A quick shower and a cereal gets me out of the house and into work for 7 am. My wife, Chris and three children (Sean, Sarah and Rory) are all sleeping soundly so no goodbyes to be made! I moved house to Donnybrook 2 years ago to reduce commuting distance and it works a treat. Leaving the house at 6.50 also means I can use the bus lanes.

7.00 am - Arrive in the office. I’m often first but occasionally I’m ‘beaten to the tape’ by Derek Kehoe, our head of bond sales or Michael Schmidt, who works on our treasury sales desk. The rest of the team follows shortly afterwards and all are ‘on board’ by 7.45. The early start is great as it gives me two hours ‘interruption free’. I use this time to see how the markets are opening and assess today’s likely trends. I read some research and the financial pages of the Irish and UK newspapers. However, my first port of call is to peruse the sports pages for the latest soccer news. Like all Leed’s fans, I am ‘in crisis mode’ as the glory days have left us and the dreaded Man U goes from strength to strength. Unfortunately our bank is filled with Man U supporters who generally make my life a misery - especially on weekends when Man U win and Leed’s lose (90 per cent of the time!). I am a soccer fanatic so it cuts to the heart!

8.45 am - A short meeting with our FX and IRD team - Noel Looney, Vincent Killeen, Julie Harrison and Thomas Brown. Working mainly with large corporates, it is a constant challenge to ‘keep ahead of the posse’. The onus is to become more innovative and to provide genuine solutions. The sales team have the advantage of the support of a large team of traders and specialists in Paris and London who can be called upon for prices, trade ideas and risk solutions. I get an update from the team regarding the current issues with our key clients in preparation for this morning’s corporate banking meeting. We have some interesting swap restructuring requirements to deal with, as IAS 39 has prompted many corporates to review their debt structure.

9.00 am - I attend our weekly corporate banking meeting. The meeting is hosted by our country manager, Fran?ois van den Bosch and attended by the corporate banking officers. It typically focuses on opportunities for origination and the sale of different products and services. We focus on some imminent bond issues and related business opportunities. 2003 has been a banner year for BNP Paribas as we have just been awarded ‘Euro Investment - Grade Corporate Bond House of the year’, European Loan House of the year and Equity Derivative House of the year’ by IFR and Risk magazines respectively.

9.40 am - Back to my desk for a quick cup of tea. I scan my Lotus Notes for incoming mails. I am a ‘ power user’ of Lotus Notes, which I use as a tool for communications, workflow management and electronic filing. Given the nature of my job, I am in regular contact with people from product lines and functions in Paris, London and other financial centres. I report to the global head of treasury in Paris but I have many ‘bosses’ as we have many product lines represented in our dealing room. This is a mixed blessing as each has his own needs and priorities can often conflict!

10.00 am - I host our weekly ALM Treasury meeting. I am joined by Anne Hayden, Vincent Dack, and Yvonne Kennedy. Our money market trading team is very experienced. We trade cash and off-balance sheet products in Euro, USD, GBP and CHF. Having had a fantastic year in 2002 with the large fall in interest rates, we have found 2003 more challenging due to the extreme rate volatility.

10.30 am - I have another go at my e-mail ‘in-tray’ and follow -up on credit and marketing issues. E-mail is a wonderful tool but sometimes I wonder if I am it’s master or it’s slave!

11.00 am - I schedule some client visits (most of my contacts are with senior management of banks and other financial institutions). I also prepare some notes for our monthly ALCO meeting, which is due later this week. This is not a meeting with George Best, Tony Adams and Paul Merson but rather a review of the bank’s liquidity, funding and market risk. As head of
the markets division, it is my responsibility to prepare the papers for this meeting.

12.00 am - Meet the CEO of an IFSC bank for lunch. We have a growing relationship with this bank across a number of products. We try to be supportive of our bank clients in terms of credit etc, and they usually reciprocate in terms of allowing us to pitch for business. In recent years, credit has become a more scarce resource so we have to use it wisely.

2.15 pm - Finish lunch at the Harbourmaster. I tend to go to the nearest restaurant - as ‘ time is money’ and in the capital markets business, there is never enough of either!

2.30 pm - I phone my boss, Jacques Desbiez in Paris. He sets demanding standards so it’s a real challenge to try and meet them. He wants updates on our trading performance and estimates for year -end. We also discuss trading strategy for 2004. The imminent arrival of IAS 39 will mitigate against the normal ‘macro-hedging’ approach of a bank treasury and is likely to create more volatility in our results. We need, therefore, to recalibrate our risk tolerance.

3.45 pm - Time for a cup of tea ‘to keep body and soul together’.

4.00 pm - I meet Denis Holland, our head of FIG, to discuss a few ‘new prospects’. Denis confirms that we should be able to start business with a FIG prospect that we have been chasing for a long time, in January. ‘Landing a new client’ is one of the more satisfying parts of the job.

5.00 pm - Talk to Sinead O’Hara, who represents equity derivatives in Dublin. BNP Paribas recently acquired the equity derivatives business of Zurich Bank .We are pursuing cross-selling opportunities and this acquisition will help the growth of our FX and Money market business. The hedge fund business is fascinating, even if it has become ‘more mainstream’ in recent years.

5.30 pm - My attention is drawn to a headline on my Bloomberg screen. BNP Paribas has been put ‘on positive watch’ by Standard and Poors. We are currently rated AA-. Coming at a time when bank credit quality, in general, has been declining, it provides a significant competitive advantage. It also helps our share price, which has started to climb nicely in recent months. BNP Paribas strongly encourages employee share ownership so most of us have a vested interest in the progress of our stock price.

6.00 pm - I ring Chris, to tell her that I’m heading for home. I will be back in time to see Leeds V Newcastle on Sky Sports. Another ‘glorious defeat’ beckons!

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