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SEPA is a unique opportunity to improve liquidity management structures Back
Karen Sloan is head of payments and cash management at HSBC Corporate Banking, Ireland. Sloan spends most of her day discussing treasury and cash management topics with both local and international colleagues, while maintaining close relationships with Irish and international clients. She says client activity is at a high at the moment as a result of the Single European Payment Area (SEPA), which she says is a unique opportunity for clients 'to re-engineer their bank account and liquidity management structures to streamline processes.'
6.30 am My alarm goes off - I get up and out quickly in the mornings as I like to be at my desk early. That means leaving before my children are awake. I'm lucky to have a short journey into work; I have just enough time to catch up with the news on Morning Ireland, after I have re-tuned the radio yet again from my daughter's choice of Spin FM.

7.30 am I'm at my desk. As usual, I am one of the first in and this gives me a bit of time to plan for the day ahead before the office hustle and bustle starts. Now is also a good time to catch up with our clients and colleagues in Asia.

Because of HSBC's focus on international business, and its historical roots as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, supporting Irish and Ireland based corporates with their Asia trade is a key focus for us here.

This morning I talk to three such clients in my first hour in the office, making calls to Hong Kong, Singapore and Mumbai. The leading topic is cash management solutions in Asia, as many Irish companies continue to expand and embed their operations and require on the ground support. HSBC’s unique footprint in this part of the world allows us keep clients educated about the opportunities the region can present.

9.00 am After I have reviewed a number of email updates from HSBC's global teams I spend a bit of time looking at the logistics for our upcoming Asia Pacific roadshow, when my colleagues from the region and external speakers from the regulatory authorities in India and China will come to Europe to update clients about the latest regulatory updates and opportunities for their organisations.

10.00 am We are visited today by HSBC's new Head of Corporate, International and Commercial Banking Europe, Irene Grant. Ireland is one of the countries under Irene's new remit and this is an opportunity for us to brief her on our clients and Ireland’s thriving export sector.

We begin with a team meeting, incorporating all our Relationship Managers, PCM, Trade Supply Chain and Treasury and Global Markets. We talk at some length about collaborations between territories - it's vitally important that a bank like HSBC provides a joined-up service to existing customers, and also uses its network to seek opportunities for new clients.

I sit down for a one-to-one with Irene afterwards for a more in depth look at our PCM business. Where we review sales performance and discuss in detail some large deals in Ireland and across Europe. We also discuss some of the initiatives that my team are working on to improve internal processes and where these can be implemented in other countries.

12.00 pm Client relationships are vital in our business and something that we have implemented is a client feedback survey. Today's presentation by Millward Brown gives us an overview of our clients’ views on our service provision, relationship, channels and business development areas. The feedback is essential to measure satisfaction levels of our clients and to gain insight in to the types of relationship clients are looking for in today’s banking environment.

One item of particular note for me and my team is that many of our clients see an increase in PCM activity over the coming year, the forthcoming implementation of SEPA is clearly a driver of this, but it is also a credit to our team that clients are positive about working with us in the future.

1.00 pm While Irene catches up with our MD and Ireland Head Alan Duffy, it's time to get some lunch. More often than not I can be found grabbing a sandwich at my desk but today we have a team lunch as we are welcoming a new team member who has transferred from HSBC in Krakow to assist clients of HSBC Ireland with the migration to SEPA. HSBC is live on both SEPA credit transfers and direct debits however clients are at different stages of migration and having sufficient resource to ensure we can act when required is essential in order for clients to meet the upcoming deadline.

2.00 pm On a typical day I will speak with at least five clients, be it via conference call or in person; and with a number of other meetings in the diary today, I’ve set aside some time to catch up on this. Client activity is definitely at a high at the moment, and SEPA is the main reason for it. We are focused on helping our customers see SEPA for what it truly is - a unique opportunity to re-engineer their bank account and liquidity management structures to streamline processes. With the approaching deadline for SEPA compliance, I am focussing on helping our clients make those changes now.

3.30 pm Next up is a short meeting with our relationship management team to plan the logistics around some client visits in Cork and Kerry. It is very important that we travel regularly within Ireland to meet our customers and we consolidate as many meetings as possible into each trip. We try to ensure we have full product coverage to include Trade and Treasury so we cover all elements expected by the client.
This is followed by my weekly one to one with Alan. It’s important that we meet regularly to discuss any updates on client activity, progress on specific projects and operational matters.
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4.30 pm Training on global products and services is a regular part of the week and today is no different as we cover Global Liquidity products. It's vital as an international bank often dealing with clients in more than one territory that each country offers the same expertise and training the team on all elements from product capability to documentation is essential. From a more macro perspective, as the world economy becomes more connected we need to be positioned to capture the growing international financial flows. In the last few years there has been significant change in the Liquidity space, with deposit income no longer simply being a function of base rate and interest paid. Clients are increasingly aware of bank credit ratings, capitalisation stability and diversity of their business risk according to refined treasury policies.

5.00 pm I finish as close to five as possible, I like to spend some time with my three children in the evening. I pick up my two youngest from creche on the way home and then together with my eldest we have dinner and catch up on the day. While my early starts work well with my client profile, my husband Ronan works for a US company, so our work schedules are a good fit for family life.

8.00 pm I think it's important to have the kind of flexibility where you can pick stuff up from home and not be reliant on being in the office 24/7. So at around eight o'clock when my two youngest are in bed, I log back onto work to finish some emails and prepare for tomorrow.
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