Finance & Management
Spotlight on AIB Business Banking Sector Team by AIB

Spotlight on AIB Business Banking Sector Team
by AIB
Our Business Banking Sector Team empowers businesses and clients to optimise opportunities, minimise potential risk, and provide insight and thought leadership in their industry of expertise. We speak with John Reynolds (JR) Head of Business Banking Dublin, East and Sector, Alan Makim (AM) Head of Retail Sector Strategy and some of the Sector Team as they share their 2022 highlights and look ahead for 2023.
Q: Firstly John, can you tell us about Sector Specialists in AIB and what role they perform?
JR: We have developed strong sector expertise to support traditional business sectors such as Agri, Retail, Hospitality, Transport & Logistics, Services and Manufacturing. We also support high innovation sectors such as Technology and high growth sectors such as Life Sciences. We believe that understanding our customers sectors helps us understand their needs and challenges which enables us to provide proactive and valuable support. Our Sector Specialists are experienced in their respective industries so that they can best serve the needs of our customers with their deep knowledge and up to-date insights.

Our Business Banking teams across the country are supported by Sector Specialists all of whom are available to meet customers and provide valuable insights. For example, we have 11 dedicated Agri Advisors based in our Local Markets. Over the years we have found this model to work exceptionally well in facilitating us to provide the best possible service to our clients in conjunction with our colleagues across the organisation.

Q: Where does the Sector Specialists knowledge come from?
JR: Our Sector Specialists are well established in each of their respective industries and are able to understand the complex needs of their industry. They often come from the industry itself and bring first-hand perspectives or they have worked on extensive commercial deals within the sector.

They have strong ties to their respective industries and are often involved in the many committees, federations and associations that support each industry. They have been there through various economic cycles and challenges in each sector and can help steer a business where required.

Q: Alan, we can clearly see the depth of knowledge, how do you share your knowledge and expertise out in the Business Banking market and with AIB staff?
AM: We are committed to providing our knowledge and specialist support to our staff and businesses within each sector. We have a strategy which delivers a programme of external activities to support businesses through sponsorships, partnerships, webinars, roundtable discussions and sector publications such as Agri Matters and Sector Outlook reports. When we look back on each quarter it is great to see the level of market engagement and the volume of content produced across a variety of channels by the team.

In addition, we provide sector specific training to our staff regularly throughout the year. Presentations and briefings to individual teams assist in disseminating industry knowledge to all staff.

Q: You mentioned the reach of the Sector Specialists, in 2022 there was a number of sector publications and reports, any highlights?
AM: 2022 saw the publication of reports examining and analysing the key issues affecting particular sectors within the Irish economy. There were Outlook Reports, Retail Spend reports and Industry handbooks.

The Outlook Reports provide an extraordinary amount of detail and insight into each sector:

  • Transport and Logistics Outlook report by Alan Waters, AIB Sector lead for Transport and Logistics reminded us again of the critical importance of the sector during the Covid 19 pandemic and as an export driven economy. The Irish economy continues to rely on the transport and logistics sector to keep the economy moving by ensuring the efficient supply of goods to businesses and consumers around the island while helping Irish exporters get their goods to overseas markets. The report also features industry commentary from Eugene Drennan, President of the IRHA, along with Michael Dixon of Dixons Transport and Stephen Ferriter Managing Direct of DAF Cork.
  • Manufacturing Outlook report by John McGeown, AIB Sector Head of Manufacturing, highlighted the significant transition risks facing the Irish manufacturing eco-system. For the report, the team partnered with key industry stakeholder Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) to undertake a survey to assess the progress of the sector on its move to a more sustainable footing. The report featured insights from Micheal Cassidy (Chief Technology Officer – IMR), David McCormack (Director of Sustainable Manufacturing – IMR) along with examples of Capital Markets customer progress in the space from Niall Fay (Director – Grant Engineering) and Rosy Temple (CEO – Magee Clothing).
  • Nursing Home Outlook report by Anne Bannon, AIB Sector Head of Healthcare showed that with an ageing population in Ireland, demand for nursing home beds is forecast to increase significantly in the future. Our reports take a close look at the private and voluntary nursing home sector and the important roles they play in the provision of healthcare in Ireland. In the report, Tadhg Daly, Chief Executive of NHI, discusses the challenges facing the Nursing Home sector. As part of the report three nursing home customers gave their views on the sector and the steps they are taking to future proof their homes by expanding bed capacity and investing in energy efficient technologies.

We were also proud to support the launch of SIRA Sustainability in Retail Handbook. The breadth and scale of sustainability can create challenges for retailers and business owners implementing their own sustainability strategies. The handbook was designed as a simple, easily understandable point of reference to support retailers around sustainability, help navigate retailers towards funding, and learn tips and advice from some of the great case studies that have been contributed by retailers such as Meaghers, Faerly, Cork Flower Studio and many more.

Q: The year closed out with the start of the Sustainability Sector Guides, can you tell us a little about the first guide?
AM: We just released the first two reports in a series of sustainability sector guides. “Sustainability Guide – Bars and Restaurants” and “Sustainability Guide – Transport”. These guides provide businesses with sector specific tools and resources to support them to reduce cost and become more sustainable. The guides have been completed in conjunction with Mabbett who are a leading environmental consulting and engineering firm with offices throughout Ireland and the UK.

Speaking on the release Jonathan Clarke, AIB Sector Head of Hospitality and Tourism noted that our customers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of their purchasing decisions on the environment, improving resource efficiency is becoming more important than ever for bars, pubs, and restaurants. By implementing strategies to reduce energy, waste, and raw material consumption, businesses can not only save money, but also improve their reputation with customers and reduce their environmental impact. The AIB Sustainability Guide for Bars & Restaurants provides valuable information and ideas for enhancing sustainability performance in these key areas.

Q: What can we expect from the rest of the Sustainability Sector Guides?
Speaking on the upcoming series John McGeown, AIB Sector Head of Manufacturing notes that “Sustainability is playing an increasing role in our customers’ business decisions, as consumer preferences and regulatory drivers increase the focus in this area. The upcoming series of Sustainability Sector Guides is designed to help them take practical and tangible steps to improve the sustainability of their operations.”

The guides for each topic identify key environmental impact areas and share ideas for addressing same. The guides also put a spotlight on social sustainability which assesses a company’s engagement with, and impact on, its workers, customers, suppliers, and the local community. In addition, the sector guides also seek to signpost supports and resources for businesses.

Q: Looking ahead into 2023, what are you looking forward to seeing?

JR: Irish SMEs continue to demonstrate how resilient they can be when facing challenges – in particular when many businesses had to quickly adapt their own business model in response to COVID-19. While there is no doubt that all businesses face a challenging cost environment I am confident Irish SMEs can still innovate further and look forward to seeing how they will continue to grow their businesses.

AM: We are seeing an increase in the number of SMEs considering their sustainability credentials and starting to make investment in this area. Given the soaring cost of energy experienced during 2022 I would expect more businesses to start investing to reduce their energy consumption and costs.

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