‘There’s always a challenge around the corner’

8 Jun 2023

Ronan Brennan. Image: Delta Capita

Delta Capita’s Ronan Brennan discusses his role and how the company provides consulting services to financial institutions.

Ronan Brennan is the head of retail banking at Delta Capita, the financial services division of technology group Prytek. Delta Capita is a global consulting, managed services and technology provider with experience in financial services and capability in technology innovation.

In his role at Delta Capita, Brennan is responsible for overseeing the next phase of growth of the company’s retail banking offering in Dublin.

“I have joined a really great team of experienced retail bankers. It’s a very rewarding job as there’s a genuine belief throughout the team that there’s real breadth to what we can bring to a financial institution, notwithstanding our ability to support them to comply with regulations, simplify operations, reduce costs and innovate their business models.”

‘Understanding first and foremost the differing work-life balance requirements of each team member and being flexible in how I approach these challenges brings out the best in people’

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

In retail banking, there’s rarely a dull moment. Over my 23 years in the industry, I’ve worked through the dot.com bubble, the introduction of the Euro, the Y2K bug, the Boom (and the Bust!), a global pandemic and now a war in Europe.

So, I have learned that there’s always a challenge around the corner – and some are more difficult to predict than others.

I think in recent years, the Irish retail banks have made a concerted effort to improve overall customer centricity, and this was evidenced by the widespread payment breaks offered during the Covid-19 pandemic to any customer who needed one. Now, as we enter into an environment of higher interest rates, I know the banks are keen to support customers who are facing challenges in making ends meet.

It’s our job to support these banks at times of increased pressures in servicing their customers.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

In recent times, there have been increased anti-money laundering (AML) initiatives, ongoing and increasing regulatory requirements, and a greater focus on knowing your customer (KYC) that have all put more demand on banks’ resources. This is where we step in by offering specialist managed services and technology solutions across client lifecycle management/KYC, derivatives and structured products, post-trade, and pricing and risk.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

Well, when I left college, I couldn’t decide whether to travel or start working. Most of my friends found jobs (this was the year 2000, so the Irish economy was on the cusp of the Boom). My great uncle, Frank Casey, was the CEO of ICC Bank and I always had huge admiration for him throughout my childhood and adulthood. It’s because of him that I thought to myself – ‘I think I’d like to get into banking’. I joined what was then Equity Bank and subsequently became Bank of Scotland (Ireland). Shortly after joining, Bank of Scotland bought out ICC Bank, but Frank had retired so I never got to work with him!

In 2007, I moved to Bank of Ireland where I would spend the next 15 years – a thoroughly enjoyable experience that gave me a breadth of experience across the retail banking market in Ireland; experience I leverage in my role today.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

I think that risk was last year. After 15 years at the Bank of Ireland, I made the decision to take voluntary redundancy. This was a huge decision for me to leave an institution that had been so good to me throughout my time there, but I needed a fresh challenge. With the support of my wife and daughter, I took a bit of time off and did some travel and addressed the ‘to-do list’ we all have but find hard to get to. Wanting something new and different but still within my core competency range, I was delighted to take up the role with Delta Capita.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I love working with my team. The diversity of opinions and views is great and helps to get ideas flowing, whilst having a bit of fun too. At a time where most of us are hybrid working, a different approach is needed to make sure we stay connected. Regular touchpoints are a must. Understanding first and foremost the differing work-life balance requirements of each team member and being flexible in how I approach these challenges brings out the best in people. We operate a hybrid model in Delta Capita and the flexibility seems to suit the team. We have well-established work methodologies at this stage.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

We have offices across Europe, the US and APAC, so it’s great to be able to collaborate across these regions and different cultures. Our commitment to inclusion sits at the core of our Delta Capita values and our global inclusion network of colleagues with different nationalities, backgrounds and experiences ensures we continue to progress towards our inclusion and diversity goals.

From a sectoral point of view, the focus on inclusion and diversity has grown significantly over the last number of years in Ireland. The main retail banks (BOI, AIB and PTSB) all have a strong footprint in this area. For example, all have implemented user-friendly web pages setting out their inclusion and diversity mission statements and the pathways they have developed to achieve it. They are strong allies of the LGTBQI+ community with a consistent presence at Pride and other events to support the community.

Overall, our experience is that in recent years banks have focused their resources to ensure they have systems in place to support colleagues from different backgrounds, sexualities, genders etc and are at a point where colleagues from any background can feel welcome, safe and valued.

While solid foundations have been laid here, there remains work to be done. Two of the key remaining issues to be tackled are unconscious bias and breaking the mould of past traditions.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

Not really career advice, but more a great management style that I’ve endeavoured to bring with me. My first manager, who I had the joy of working with for seven years, used to hate the formality of performance appraisals. Instead, he’d insist we go for a walk without our phones. The walk was very leisurely and usually took about an hour. Over the course of this walk, he’d touch on all areas of performance, his expectations and my objectives for the year ahead. The formal paperwork would follow, but it was always a great way of getting feedback in less formal surroundings and allowed us both to be comfortable in expressing our thoughts with no disruptions.

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