For this month’s Why Dún Laoghaire campaign, where we showcase the businesses in our town and how our facilities, resources and infrastructure help them achieve sustainability and success, we spoke to Deirdre Kane, Bank of Ireland’s manager for the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county area.
Banks, including Bank of Ireland, are an important pillar of the community, not just for personal banking but for businesses and enterprises too. They can help finance expansion ideas and new start-ups as well as providing expert advice and guidance. Bank of Ireland does this every day in our town.
Explaining her role, Deirdre says: “My primary role is an advocate for our customers. It’s essentially to enable local businesses and our communities to thrive.”
Deirdre says her team of qualified advisors work with her in the locality to engage with business owners about their needs and objectives and how she and the bank can help them achieve these.
Keeping reading to hear how Deirdre and Bank of Ireland could help your business and why they think Dún Laoghaire is the perfect place for business!
Bank of Ireland – Providing Financial Wellbeing to our town’s businesses to help keep them flourishing
Kane says the Dun Laoghaire branch has a mortgage and a business team. She says the mortgage team supports customers to buy their own home whether you’re a first time buyer or moving house or switching your mortgage to save money. The team also support business customers by providing a Financial Wellbeing Program for their staff.
Deirdre explained the Financial Wellbeing program involves a series of presentation to staff which can be tailored to any number of topics such as buying a home, saving for the future, general day to day budgeting as well as being prepared as possible for the unexpected.
Sourcing and retaining staff is a real challenge at present so some local businesses have taken us up on this program and included it in their own ‘colleague wellbeing’ plan as part of their staff benefits. Feedback and engagement from these sessions has been hugely positive and is really encouraging as we talk to local businesses.
“For us, it’s not about products, it’s about financial solutions for our customers.”
Explaining the business side of things, Deirdre says: “We [Bank of Ireland] are the biggest lender into the Irish economy, so clearly we have a very big role to play for our business customers. We have a huge suite of solutions when it comes to our businesses and their cash flows. The current challenges with the supply chain have made it more important than ever to have a robust working capital plan.
“Our service is advice based and we are delighted to work with local businesses and give them the expertise of our managers on the ground as we get to know your business well. We also have market insights and trends which is great for businesses as they plan for the future.”
She adds: “We have a team of sector-specialists who are experts in their sectors, such as hospitality, retail, manufacturing, technology to name a few. That has been really important to have as we guided our businesses in their own sectors through the pandemic.”
Pivoting to digital is important for sustainability – and Dún Laoghaire is the best place for all things digital!
Deirdre says businesses need to be agile, particularly as the pandemic has changed how we do business and how we work. In the era we are in now, Kane says businesses need to have an online presence in some form, and that applies to small, medium and large enterprises.
She says as a business manager she saw many examples of businesses that previously depended solely on a bricks and mortar channel to reach their customers and could never have envisaged an online presence. However when the pandemic arrived they were very quickly forced to re-think their business model and in time discovered it actually worked online. So now that they have opened up the bricks and mortar they have a multi-channel option for their customers.
“In summary when they were forced to pivot online it became a complimentary channel to bricks and mortar,” Deirdre says.
She continues: “It comes down to whether the business owner is curious enough to critically examine how you are doing business today and explore what disruption is around the corner.”
Bank of Ireland’s support for Digital HQ
“That’s where I think the likes of Digital HQ being right in the middle of our community in Dún Laoghaire is very advantageous because a lot of businesses may have been considering digital but they just didn’t know where to go.
“We have Digital HQ and Eoin Costello driving this in the background which is hugely advantageous, and it brings digital right into the community where people are talking about it and have somewhere to go to meet likeminded business owners.”
Dun Laoghaire Enterprise Centre opened in May 2017 thanks to the support of Bank of Ireland. The enterprise centre is home to 8 businesses and is located in the heart of the town. The income for the membership fees at the centre fund the various digital campaigns delivered by DigitalHQ clg for the business community of the town.
Dún Laoghaire town’s vibrancy is second to none
Why does Deirdre think Dún Laoghaire is a great place to do business? Well, she explains: “It’s big enough that there is a lot of vibrancy, you can feel the energy in the town. We have a very big digital presence in the town which can be a guide and support to businesses.”
She continues: “We have superb transport links and unlike a lot of places up and down the coast, it actually does have plenty of parking! “It’s a really nice place to meet customers, there are superb cafés and restaurants and it’s certainly a great place to have a base for your business.”
While Deirdre admits she has no personal connection to the area, she says that is good for her role, as she can give objective advice to businesses.
Bank of Ireland are committed to our town, as Deirdre says, they see it as a strategically important place because of our business community but also the local community too.
“There’s new and old living side by side and it’s an exciting time to do business in Dun Laoghaire as they are ahead of curve by recognising digital transformation is crucial to staying relevant and benefits every part of the community.”