Can you, in your own words, talk us through the evolution of your career to date?
I left Ireland in the mid-1980s and headed to Austin, Texas where I completed a Degree in Finance and International Business at The University of Texas over four years. I then moved to Paris to work in the finance department of a technology company for a year. When I came back to Ireland in 1990, the IFSC was in its infancy, but Chase Manhattan Bank had just secured a licensed to service the Irish funds industry.
I was one of the first five people they hired here, and I really learned a huge amount by doing pretty much every job in the organisation. I moved from technology conversions to operations and then from client service to supervisory and on to management.
I was made responsible for our Custody and Funds Services business here in Dublin, which looks after about $300 billion of assets for our clients. Over time, my remit extended to the Channel Islands – Jersey and Guernsey – and I took over an additional role of Senior Country Officer in 2010, which means I have overall responsibility for all of the business we do here in Ireland.
In addition to servicing funds, we also provide cash management services to corporate and multinational clients in Ireland and are the European HQ for our merchant acquiring and payment acceptance business. Whilst a number of our business leaders have functional reporting lines out of country, ultimately, I am the person on the hook here from the location perspective.
What does your average day look like?
There really is no average day in my role. It’s a very varied job, but that’s what I like about it. For example, on Monday, I was on the roof of our new building in a hard hat and hi-vis jacket. Yesterday, I was at a great American Chamber of Commerce Ireland event where we were discussing the challenges and opportunities that our member companies face, and I’ve also been doing quite a bit of interviewing of job candidates over the past few days. I spend quite a lot of time involved in formal governance meetings, given that we are in the banking sector, and we are heavily regulated.
I also like to catch up very frequently with people – preferably in person, but also by video which has greatly enhanced the quality of interactions with colleagues based around the world. Mobile apps help with the working hours. I wake up in the morning at 6am and I check my phone as soon as I get up. I listen to the radio in the car, get into the office for 7.30am and I try to get out by 6pm – either to go home or I tend to attend quite a few work related evening events, but I am on my phone thereafter and I can also login from home.
There are pros and cons to the digital age. It means I can physically leave the office, visit the gym and log in to my emails afterwards to do some work. The downside can be that you never really switch off.
What is the most important trend in your industry currently?
Technology is the biggest disruptor in our industry at the moment, and the one we are talking about most. We have all had our personal lives changed so much by the arrival of mobile devices. The way we, as a bank interact with customers is completely changing now as well.
We have 50,000 people working in technology at JP Morgan and we spend over US$10 billion a year on it. Those numbers often surprise people as they wouldn’t have been traditionally associated with a bank. So, it has become absolutely critical that all of us as managers and leaders understand technology, embrace it, and leverage it for our employees and our customers.
We also need to create an environment where people who are tech-savvy want to work so that we can attract the best tech talent – not your traditional view of what an investment bank job looks like.
We have been building up a tech team locally which we are continuing to expand, and we will have an Innovation Centre in our new building. The work we do will range from process re-engineering and efficiency projects to more emerging fields like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics and Blockchain. There are huge opportunities to be gained from technological advances, and firms need to be invested in it to continue enhancing customer experience and efficiency or risk being severely disrupted.
At the moment, we see the most disruption in our payments business, but it is also happening in our wholesale business. It is key for us that we can leverage the advantages of disruptive technologies whilst preserving the safety and security that our clients expect of us.