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Wednesday, 17th April 2024
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Ulster’s capital markets head Back  
In his role as head of capital markets at Ulster Bank Group David MacNeice leads a team which provides interest rates, foreign exchange and commodity hedging solutions to the bank’s customers, as well as capital protected structured investment products. Since starting the role in January 2008, MacNeice has adjusted to an early start time – helped by a shot of coffee in the morning and a blast of Led Zeppellin to round off the day.
7:00 I leave my house in Clontarf for the short walk to Killester DART station and the painless ten minute commute to our offices in George’s Quay. I rarely drive to work as sitting in traffic is my least favourite pastime. Taking on my current role at the start of the year required a major adjustment to my daily start time, which I am just about getting used to. On arrival at the office my first task is to grab a strong coffee from the Starbucks franchise in our staff restaurant.

7:30 The dealing room is now up and running for the day and I spend a few minutes scanning the headlines in the Financial Times for stories of interest and relevance to the day ahead. The ECB is expected to increase the base rate by 0.25 per cent later today but this has been well flagged in advance and priced into market rates as a given. Further turmoil in global credit markets continues to put pressure on money markets and the cost of borrowing on the interbank market. I also take the opportunity to read the Daily Commentary sent out to customers by our economist and various other daily reports and strategy papers from the trading desks in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS - of which Ulster Bank Group is a wholly owned subsidiary).
David McNeice

8:00 Time for a weekly briefing to the dealing team given by Ulster Bank’s chief economist, Pat McArdle.

8:30 Brief meeting with Robert Gallagher, who heads up the corporate markets division of the bank, and my colleagues who run the various other businesses and functions in corporate markets. We review the main issues of the day and, to keep the meeting short and snappy, we remain standing for its 15 minute duration.

9:00 Meeting is a steering committee which is overseeing a major project to move our business fully onto the RBS Group operating platform. The project is now entering a crucial phase with testing and dress rehearsals underway to ensure a smooth transition. When completed later this year the project will give us the latest electronic banking and trading technology and will facilitate the roll out of more new products and international services.

11:00 After spending the last hour going through emails, holding ad hoc meetings with members of the capital markets team and reviewing the latest monthly reports on our financial performance, it is time to meet with three colleagues from RBS who have travelled over from London to talk about new product ideas. In particular we discuss how best to roll out the RBS Group’s new commodity product offering for our Irish customers. RBS has recently formed a new joint venture with Sempra Energy, a major global commodities trading business, giving us unique access in the Irish market to the latest commodity hedging technology, including trading of carbon emission credits.

13:00 The meeting continues over lunch and the topic of conversation moves to the latest developments in the integration of the ABN AMRO business into the group and the successful ?12 billion rights issue recently completed by RBS. We also find time to discuss the latest rumours around the Premiership transfer market. A quick look at the BlackBerry confirms the ECB rate increase. No surprises there.

14:30 Meeting with colleagues in our wealth division on opportunities that our two businesses can take forward given the current strong demand for capital protected investment products.

15:30 Telephone call with one of our regional sales people who is organising a presentation to customers in Athlone on risk management strategies for the current environment. The regional sales teams have held a number of such presentations around the country in the last few weeks and based on experience to date my colleague is expecting a strong turnout of customers (and potential customers).
Click for large image...

16:00 Time to grab yet another cup of coffee in Starbucks where I meet with my HR colleague to discuss filling a vacancy on our structured investment products team following the transfer of one of the team to RBS in London.

16:30 Meeting with a colleague from operations to review and sign off on the quarterly risk and controls assessment for the capital markets business. This is followed by board meetings for a number of the group’s subsidiaries in order to approve annual accounts.

17:00 Sit down with a few of the dealing and sales people to talk about the day’s activity, market reaction to the ECB press conference following the rate announcement and some pipeline interest rate swap deals.

17:30 As activity in the dealing room starts to wind down its time to review a credit application which will be presented at the next day’s credit committee. It is a new lending opportunity which ticks all the right boxes (including hedging of interest rate risk) so I expect it will move smoothly through the committee.

18:30 Tidy up the desk, turn off the computer and take out the iPod. Weather permitting I walk home each evening and it is something I very much look forward to. By the time I get home about 50 minutes later I have hopefully managed to clear work matters from my mind. I can usually tell what the day has been like by my choice of music for the walk home. Tonight its
Led Zeppelin!

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