Skip to content
It looks like you're using an unsupported browser, which may impact upon your experience. It is strongly recommended that you switch to the latest version of Chrome, Firefrox, Safari, Edge or another modern browser.

Ciara Houlihan

news published date 11 June 2018
  • Our Stories
HSBC Institutional Trust Services (Ireland) DAC

Ciara has used her extensive experience in Financial Services globally to lead and inspire others in championing women in her own organisation, HSBC and in the sector as a whole. This is evidenced through her work with HSBC’s ‘Balance’ network which supports recruitment, development, advancement and engagement of a gender-balanced workforce, where she is a local and European lead and through her extensive mentoring at HSBC and beyond. Ciara has also taken this drive and commitment beyond her own environs and is leading the way in spreading her knowledge in emerging markets, an increasingly vital geography for the sector.

Aside from the leadership position she has taken in existing platforms such as the Women’s Executive Network and the 30% club, she has also made it her own personal goal to champion women and gender diversity at board level within HSBC. This has delivered tangible results in terms of women in senior positions. Leading by example locally, sharing knowledge globally and leveraging established platforms makes Ciara a true champion for women.

She has been nominated for the 2018 Champion for Women Award.

Tell us about what your team is responsible for and any specific projects you are working on currently.

HSBC Ireland is one of Ireland’s leading international banks, employing over 400 people in its corporate banking and securities services businesses at its Dublin headquarters. I am a member of the HSBC Ireland Executive Committee, but on a day to day basis I manage HSBC Institutional Trust Services which is responsible for the oversight and custody of $71.5bn of Fund Assets as of April 2018, split across 270 funds in 10 different domiciles. (Source: HSBC MFR Report April 2018)

HSBC Securities Services has committed to investing over $500m into the asset servicing business globally, and our Irish operation can expect to benefit directly as a result. HSBC Securities Services in Ireland employs 260 staff onshore and 368 staff offshore. Female representation is currently 49% (Source: HSS December 2017 Update). We are currently developing our offering in the following areas: alternatives asset classes, ETFs & TFFs, money market funds, global custody as well as expanding our offering to US clients.

What is your role within the team?

As managing director, my role is to manage the business, ensuring we are servicing our customers well, safekeeping the assets which have been entrusted to us. This can only be achieved if we have built and developed a strong team. It was this focus that drove my involvement in HSBC’s diversity network ‘Balance’.

How can we get the biggest shift towards diverse and inclusive workplaces? 

Businesses need to recognise that in an increasingly complex and changing global market place, having a diverse and inclusive workforce helps to deliver better outcomes to customers, people, communities and shareholders.

Our customers, like our employees, come from many different backgrounds. In order to meet their various needs, we should be deploying our own diversity to improve customer insight, product and service innovation, risk management and inclusive decision-making.

To achieve this, we need to address challenges such as language and cultural barriers, a lack of diversity in role models and unconscious bias/stereotyping. Some of the specific steps we have taken include:
• Enhancing inclusive practices around hiring and promotions
• Improving guidance for leaders, managers and employees
• Increasing flexible and remote working opportunities
• Building a more balanced pipeline through succession planning and talent development
• Expanding mentoring and sponsorship opportunities

We strongly encourage employees from all backgrounds to make use of the extensive development and learning opportunities that are available.

What would you tell the 18 year old you knowing what you know now with regards to your career?

Take a good hard look at what areas interest you, think about what “makes you tick” and what job would make you want to jump out of bed in the morning and get to work. Then go find a job in that industry. Doing a job you enjoy makes life much more enjoyable, for you and those around you.

Who has been the most influential person in your career and why?

Definitely my mother. She was a woman who set up her own business in 1970s Ireland and ran it successfully for 42 years, no mean feat. She showed me that you can combine a successful career and motherhood, as well as being a positive and active member of one’s community.

I am delighted that she is coming to the Awards ceremony to share this special occasion with me.

Tell us something about yourself you think people would find surprising?

I recently started playing cricket at the tender age of 42. I had played rounders as a small child and had always been meaning to learn to play cricket, but never seemed to have, or made, the time. I realised that the old knees might not hold out much longer, so at 42 years of age it was now or never!

Having quickly noticed some areas that needed improvement in the Cricket Club, I found myself appointed as team captain and on the Executive Committee within months of joining. My friends will not find that last bit surprising at all, as I am a control freak!