Inside the world of business

Over 500 jobs on offer at city fair

ATTENTION ALL job seekers. The Contact Centre Management Association is hosting a jobs fair next week in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel with more than 500 positions on offer across 20 companies in the sector.

Judging by recent experience at other job fairs here, the employers will not be short of applicants.

There will be a strong turnout from top multinational companies, with Accenture, Dell, PayPal, SAP, ServiceSource, UPC and Zynga signed up for the event next Tuesday.

A number of local companies will also be in attendance, including bookmaker Paddy Power and listed insurance group FBD. In addition, many indigenous business process outsourcing groups will be taking part including Concentrix, Performance Marketing, VoxPro and Zevas.

Contact centre management and business process outsourcing are two areas of the economy offering employment opportunities here.

British satellite broadcaster Sky recently announced plans to hire more than 800 staff in Dublin to handle customer service queries from its Irish subscribers. These services were previously offered from Scotland.

According to Dorothy O’Byrne, managing director of the CCMA, more than 30,000 people are employed in the sector in Ireland. “The forecasts for growth are strong,” she added, which is welcome news given the high level of unemployment here.

While the sector is in growth mode, it is also fiercely competitive as demonstrated this week by Vodafone’s decision to move its mobile call centre operation from local player Rigney Dolphin to Newry-based Teleperformance.

Staff will transfer to Teleperformance on the same terms and conditions but they have been told they will have to move to Newry or Dublin.

While Rigney Dolphin will no doubt bounce back by picking up contracts from other companies it won’t be taking a stand next week at the jobs fair.

Why Cox was at London court with McKillen

THERE WERE a few eyebrows raised in Dublin last week when Arthur Cox partner Conor McDonnell (right) was seen walking into the London High Court with Paddy McKillen at the start of his action against the Barclay brothers.

Cox and McDonnell are long standing legal advisers to McKillen. Cox are also legal advisers to the National Asset Management Agency, who are named as a third party in the proceedings. The agency has agreed to sell the Barclays the debt on the hotels at the centre of the dispute.

Cox were one of the firms awarded contracts last month to provide legal services to Nama along with AL Goodbody, McCann Fitzgerald and William Fry.

Cox was also the biggest earner in terms of Nama work in 2010 and 2011, receiving €3.07 million of the total €27.55 million spent by Nama on legal services. According to a spokesman for the firm Mr McDonnell accompanied Mr McKillen in a “client relationship capacity” and was not involved in the case.

Thus no conflict of interest arises, according to Cox. The case is being run by a firm of London solicitors.

Mr McDonnell, according to the spokesman, had been in London for other reasons and had been asked by Mr McKillen to accompany him to the opening of the case.

The Dublin firm is no doubt weary of once again having to explain why it does not have a conflict of interest among its many clients. But it can hardly claim to be surprised that the sight of one of it’s partners accompanying a high-profile client into court to take an action involving another high profile client attracts public interest.

Central Bank reforms aim to close black holes

WARREN BUFFET’S well-used saying – “it’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked” – comes to mind with the latest reforms planned for regulation by the Central Bank.

The economic crash has not just exposed poorly regulated and heavily under-capitalised banks, but black holes at investment firms that, were it not for a major banking crash, would be making front page news on a daily basis.

This time around the focus of the latest regulatory changes is the protection of client assets.

The main motivation for the changes is the disaster that is the collapse of Dublin investment firm Custom House Capital, which was caught playing around with €56 million of client money to cover losses on property.

The Central Bank has also been stirred into action by changes at the Financial Services Authority in the UK and the failure of MF Global, the US investment firm.

Last year’s report into Custom House Capital by court-appointed inspectors found the regulator had carried out spot checks of the firm dating back to March 2009.

Yesterday, the report by two of the Central Bank’s risk advisers pointed to an earlier inspection, in 2007, which also raised issues about how client money was being handled and booked at the firm.

It is shocking to read that the only tools available to the Central Bank to deal with senior management it does not trust at an investment firm was either to withdraw authorisation or liquidate it.

Changes proposed by the Central Bank, including the creation of a type of client asset swat team of up to eight staff to react when clients fund are at risk, will help. But the most important change rests with legislators – the power to install an administrator into a troubled firm to unravel investments and tens of millions of euro in client funds.

That this was not – and is still not available as the tide continues to rush out – is a terrifying gap in a regulatory regime that is already working flat out to repair itself.

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