Interview with Bank of Ireland’s Adrian Mullett (video)

21 Oct 2014

Adrian Mullett, Bank of Ireland's head of technology sector

Bank of Ireland has been investing in knowledge and people to better serve Ireland’s indigenous and multinational technology industry, says the bank’s head of technology sector Adrian Mullett.

In recent weeks a phone-based survey of 142 Irish technology companies by Bank of Ireland and UCC classified 98pc of the firms as SMEs with over half of the companies employing between five and 20 people.

Around a third of the companies have a turnover of over €1m and 75pc of the firms had over €100,000 in turnover per annum.

Some 58pc of the firms saw an increase in revenues in the last 12 months. Eleven percent of software firms said they saw a decrease in revenues.

The insights derived by the Bank of Ireland are part of a focus across the bank to better understand in order to better service specific industries and sectors, in this case the local software industry.

For Mullett, a former technology analyst, this dedication to sectoral knowledge is as much about having your finger on the pulse as it is about prudential lending practices.

“It is about us getting an understanding around that technology,” he explained.

He said that in dealing with technology companies it is increasingly a cashflow-based transaction.

Ensuring viable ideas get the right attention

“It is frequently a cashflow lend so we need to know about what’s underpinning that cashflow.

“We look at things like barriers to entry and switching costs.

“Ultimately the goal is that any viable technology transaction will be supported and won’t fail because of a lack of understanding around that technology.”

Mullett said the bank has invested in hiring people with tech industry experience.

“We’ve also made an investment into proprietary research services so if there’s an area of technology that we’re not comfortable with we have access to analysts who are.

“Thirdly, across the bank, we have rolled out an education programme to upskill people around key tech trends and terms so there is no fear factor.

“And finally we have built our own proprietary data set of the Irish market so we are able to track trends and performance,” he said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years