Posted on Wednesday 15 May 2019 by Ulster Business

Graham 11

Name: Graham Lapsley, head of private banking, Danske Bank

How did you start out in business?

Banking has always been in my blood as my father joined Belfast Banking Co Ltd (later Northern Bank Ltd) in 1957. As a boy I remember being in Northern Bank branches ‘helping out’ when my father was completing regular evenings doing overtime. This was an environment that I was familiar with, although I didn’t ever think I would make banking a career. In 1981 I found myself in Limavady branch and thoroughly enjoyed branch banking at a time when there were no computers, no autobanks and lots of staff. I’ve benefited from lots of different roles at the Bank in my career, each bringing its own challenges. I left my role as head of personal credit last year to take up my current position as head of private banking.

What have you found the most challenging during your years of business, so far
On a personal level changing job roles always brought new challenges. Change is a constant which I accept and while I’ve worked in Danske Bank for 38 years I have had senior roles in branch banking, wealth management, business banking, risk management and now private banking.

As an area manager in branch banking, I found the leadership of the transition from Australian ownership to Danish ownership in 2006 a huge challenge. This change was as exciting as it was challenging as we benefited from huge investment and the Dane’s leading edge technology.

I didn’t go directly from school to university, but I’ve been lucky enough to have had employer support to complete a business studies degree and a masters’ degree in executive leadership. I’ve also attended business schools in Boston, Lausanne and London, with each giving me new tools to add into my skill set.


How would you describe your management style?

I am energetic and enthusiastic. I love working with our relationship managers and customers to build a financial solution. I am very results oriented and prefer a direct style. I am very self-aware (most of the time) and have a positive outlook.


What would you change if you could go back and do it all again?
I’m not sure that I would change anything. I’ve learnt from my mistakes and that made me a better banker in the long term. Perhaps my ambition in my early career took me into roles that didn’t match my skill sets, but I did take away vital learnings from these experiences


Have you done it all on your own?
Absolutely not. My wife Sonya and family have always been a great support and this enabled me to have a good work/life balance. I have a strong network personally and professionally, which is mutually supportive. I’ve also been lucky enough to have worked with many leaders who have greatly inspired me.


What’s more important, your product or your people?
In Private Banking, without a doubt our people. We are a people business and our strength in Private Banking rests with the professionalism of the private banking team. We offer premium relationship management to our private banking customers, supported by leading edge digital solutions. Our customers value our expertise and the ability to meet up in person to discuss financial plans.


What makes your business stand out from the competition?
There are numerous competitors in the marketplace, but we are the biggest private banking relationship management team in Northern Ireland. Danske is also the leading corporate and business bank in Northern Ireland, and many of these customers have their personal needs looked after by my private banking team.


What piece of advice would you give to a 20 year old you?

You’ll never be judged on what happens to you, but you will be judged on how you react to it. And you won’t get the experience you need, until the day after you needed it.



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