In 1985 I joined AIB straight from University College Dublin where I had completed my MBS. I was one of seven graduate trainees in the investment department of the old AIIB (Allied Irish Investment Bank).
I studied for the Society of Investment Analyst exams as well as learning on the job. In early 1987 I was given responsibility for all equity investments in the Japanese market. You may ask yourself what qualifications I had for this role and the honest answer is that I had no specialist knowledge of Japan. (The joke at the time was that I was the only one who would feel tall when visiting Japan - the downside of being 5ft 6)
I stayed with AIB until 1996 and in that time I immersed myself in Japan visiting at least once a year. The more I visited the more concerned I became about the lack of change and the consequences of this for the economy.
I was also given the opportunity to monitor the external investment managers who made investments in the rest of Asia on behalf of AIB. This involved trips to Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
It was on these trips that I began to see the dramatic changes that were taking place in China. This convinced me that China was in rapid catch up mode and would be a dynamic economy for years to come.
In 1997 I left to join New Ireland and manage their Japanese investments but within 9 months New Ireland was sold and the investment team made redundant.
The former head of investment in New Ireland was then hired to set up a new team at Canada Life. In April 1998 I joined as the 3 rd employee and it was a fascinating experience starting from scratch.
We called the new investment company Setanta Asset Management and we decided to move away from being geographic specialists and instead we worked on global sectors. I became the technology specialist.
Specialising in technology meant spending time in Silicon Valley where without doubt exist the worlds largest concentration of great technology companies.
The other feature of Setanta that made it different was that we invested in a maximum of 100 companies. Each specialist would present an idea to the group and the group would decide whether the idea made sense. This meant that I was exposed to ideas in every sector and from all over the world.
In 2003 I suffered a near fatal brain aneurysm that made me rethink the long hours involved in the investment world and the daily gridlock involved in a Dublin commute. What I really wanted to do was go back to my hometown of Wexford and have a quality of life that would be second to none. The main question was how could I use my skills to make a living in Wexford. There are no investment managers in the Model county looking for Japanese or technology specialists! This is when I decided to become an investment advisor. I felt that a lot of people would like impartial advice on equity investments and with almost twenty years of experience behind me I was in a perfect position to provide it.
In July 2005 after receiving clearance from the Financial Regulator, Killeevan Investment Consultants (KIC) was born. (Killeevan is the name of the village in Monaghan where my wife is from and given that she is a fellow director of the company I want to keep on her good side)
Finally in June 06 we moved into our new house in Wexford. Hopefully the nearby beach will provide me with plenty of inspiration for great investment ideas.