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Geoghegan: The accidental banker

An entrepreneur at heart, and with a stint as a girls’ dress shop owner already under his belt, the teenage Geoghegan had his sights set on pursuing a business degree at University College Dublin before a job offer as an HSBC trainee manager threw him off course. Ever the opportunist, Geoghegan imagined his career in banking to be a short-term means by which to fund his next business venture. That his tenure in the industry has lasted the best part of four decades has surprised no one more than Geoghegan himself.

Perhaps his status as an accidental banker informs Geoghegan’s forthright views on the industry, and the people within it, which he sets out here.

As possibly the last of an era of CEOs that learnt banking on the job as opposed to joining the industry post-university, would you say you had the best way to learn the business?


My father was a professor of industrial microbiology and I had a place to do business studies at University College Dublin. But when I went to see HSBC, they said to me: "We want you now. We are not sure if we want you in three years’ time. You make that decision yourself". They explained that I was probably worth nothing to them in real management terms in the first five years. I forget the figure they quoted about how much it cost to train me, but they basically thought that having on-the-job training was more valuable than having the degree. Then the whole industry swung – you couldn’t get into financial services unless you had a Masters or a BA at least.

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