Posted on Wednesday 6 June 2018 by John Mulgrew

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Adrian Moynihan is coming into his new role as head of First Trust Bank with the aim of creating a modern, sustainable bank focused on customers and growth.

The fresh-faced 39-year-old, who has almost two decades working for First Trust’s parent company AIB, has taken up the reins at a banking business which employs 550 staff in Northern Ireland, boasts some 285,000 active customers, and provides around £2bn in financing to personal, business and corporate customers.

Over the last 18 years with AIB, Adrian has worked right across the business – from product management, business banking, personal banking, its branch network and wealth management.

In his most recent position, Adrian, who is a business graduate of Waterford Institute of Technology and University College Cork, was head of homes within the banking group – looking after mortgages and developer finance.

The Tipperary man has been in the role since April and brings a wealth of experience to the job at a leading bank which has set its sights on challenging its main Northern Ireland banking rivals.

And his message to both business and personal customers alike is that First Trust is “committed” to Northern Ireland, with ambitious plans to grow further.

“Within AIB in the Republic of Ireland, we completed a major transformation programme to reflect our customers’ changing banking needs and we are seeing the benefits of that programme and how it has helped create a positive, future focused bank,” he told Ulster Business.

“The same investment process is almost complete here in First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland.

“We are currently modernising our branches, with a significant level of investment to create a better environment for our customers. and our people. We have also added five new business centres across Northern Ireland to create a more specialised business banking offering with a strong local presence. Our recent partnership with the Post Office now enables our customers to conduct their everyday banking transactions in any of the 500 Post Offices across Northern Ireland and customer take up has surpassed our expectations.”

Adrian is also keen to further develop First Trust’s already strong digital offering for its customers. This will include new enhancements to the mobile app, as well as allowing customers the ability to apply for loans on their mobile devices and more digital payment methods. “We know this investment is already paying off, having recently been shortlisted for a major UK Customer Service Award for ‘Best Banking App’ as voted by our customers.”

Following the company’s recent restructuring programme, Adrian says it’s key that existing customers and potential new customers understand First Trust is dedicated to the Northern Ireland market, where the Bank can trace its presence back over 200 years.

“The big message is that we are committed to our customers, to our communities and to the broader Northern Ireland market. Our purpose as a business is to back our customers to achieve their dreams and ambitions, whether that’s to start, expand or buy a business, to buy a home or a new car.

“By backing our customers, we will also be supporting the communities in which they live in as well as the local economy, and that’s when a bank ultimately benefits also.”

“I see this next phase as being a growth story. We wouldn’t have invested in the transformation programme if we didn’t see the potential for growth in the future.”

And Adrian says First Trust is “strong” and “single minded” in its corporate and business aspirations too. “We know from our own research that we are currently taking about 15% of new lending in the local market. Our desire to be a focused challenger bank with strong sectoral expertise in the business and corporate market is working and we are not stopping there,” he said.

“There’s also a real opportunity for us to increase our share of the personal market. To do that, we have to make sure we are very clear about the customer needs we are aiming to meet. We then must also have a compelling customer offering that engages our customers across all our channels.”

“Banking at its core is a service business, so a huge amount of success is down to the quality of your people, and the teams in place to support customers.

“This is true in the business and corporate banking sector as well. Businesses directors want to deal with staff who know their business, know their sector, and know banking. We have restructured our senior team accordingly, under the direction of Brian Gillan as head of business and corporate banking. He is ably supported by three key senior appointments with Seamus McGuckin recently joining us as head of business banking, Ann McSorley moving to head of corporate banking and Patrick Short taking a newly created role of head of acquisitions. They in turn are supported by very experienced and dedicated teams with deep knowledge across a variety of sectors.”

“I have been really impressed with the professionalism, expertise and strong customer focus of the people working within First Trust. It’s that combination of a strong partnership approach, and also having the knowledge to understand and support our customers that’s key to our future success.”

First Trust has been behind major business deals and works with a range of high-profile customers based throughout Northern Ireland. That includes hospitality business Beannchor Group – which, along with the grand Merchant Hotel in Belfast, owns the sister Bullitt hotel and rooftop bar, Babel – which appropriately explains the choice of venue for our interview and photos. The hospitality sector is one the Bank has particular strength in alongside proven expertise in manufacturing, agri-food, retail, healthcare and energy.

Asked about where he wants to lead the business, Adrian said it’s well-positioned for expansion both in personal and business markets.

“For me, in my role, it’s about how we as a business orientate ourselves more and more around our customers and their needs. By doing this better than anyone else, we will position ourselves where the growth opportunities are going to take place – capturing those opportunities and winning against the competition.”

A strong customer focus has perhaps never been more important given the uncertainty that already exists following Brexit and the current political climate. According to the latest AIB Brexit Sentiment Index for the first quarter of 2018 the majority of SMEs in Northern Ireland have yet to feel any impact from the proposed withdrawal of the UK from the EU, but they have concerns.

And while Adrian is a man looking ahead with optimism and growth plans, he believes overall predicted economic expansion across Northern Ireland this year could be greater, if there was a return to devolution and clarity over Brexit.

“The sooner we all get clarity and certainty around the current political situation here and the Brexit outcomes, the better. Businesses and consumers like certainty, it supports investment, it enables decision making and it creates greater confidence, all essential components for growth and progress.”

“Notwithstanding that, what we have seen is an economy which is pretty resilient and a performance that has been strong given the backdrop. And while Brexit and the current political impasse are big question marks, overall we are optimistic as to the fundamentals of the economy and the potential that exists in the future.”

Looking ahead, Adrian is bringing a wealth of positivity to the new job, with a focus on fresh opportunities for First Trust Bank.

“We have a loyal customer base and a great team who are positive, and equally ambitious. I’m coming into the role with a lot of energy and optimism. There are sectors and parts of the market that I know we can not only win in, but excel in. We look forward to supporting and enabling progress for our customers and our communities, building a better future” he said.

A man with clear energy and focus, we wouldn’t doubt him.

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