Meet the Manager - Sean Morley

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Interview with Sean Morley - Fund Accounting Senior Manager with Alter Domus in Cork, Ireland.

Tell us about your career journey to date?

After graduating initially in 2009, Graduate Programs in Ireland were cancelled because of the financial crisis. I went back to college to do a masters but unfortunately when coming back out the situation hadn’t picked up and as a Cork man I chose to emigrate rather than face Dublin! Fortunately my cousin in Switzerland had a contact looking to hire recent graduates. It was a private bank in Geneva working for high net worth individuals where I started my career which was a great yet daunting experience. Geneva was an interesting place to start and was a full on introduction to a global office. Coming from the north side of Cork City and a working class background it felt like a fish out of water in super wealthy Geneva but I had lots of nice colleagues from different backgrounds and nationalities that helped me get my bearings.

On returning to Ireland I tried a number of administration roles in fund accounting, I had a chance to get into private equity funds, an area that had always interested me. The trade-off however was that I had to begrudgingly move to Dublin. I worked in the Hybrid Funds team of Deutsche Bank. It was an extremely fun young team to work with great managers but I longed to return to Cork.

When I finally found a role there to suit me in the form of Alter Domus I took the chance. The call I had gotten was off my then boss Thomas Blaise regarding a new office starting up. I realised from the get go that there was going to be a steep learning curve but the opportunity was huge with the chance to travel and pitch to clients. Within the first 6 months I had travelled to Jersey for a month to train and made a pitch to our first direct client, a Global Timber Fund manager in New York. Over the years we grew the team adding clients based in various parts of the US, Luxembourg, Ireland, Singapore and the UK.

I am now managing a team of 14 including 3 managers, 5 seniors’ officers and 6 officers.

What is the best piece of advice you received as you moved upwards in your career?

I think the best piece of advice I was given directly was by a boss of mine at Deutsche Bank who told me that the easiest way to promotion was to make your boss’ life easier!

What’s your best memory at Alter Domus?

I would have to say winning our first client. I had left a holiday a few days early to fly direct from Lisbon to New York, leaving an annoyed girlfriend wandering around Lisbon Zoo and other tourist attractions alone for a few days after a last minute request to have the opportunity to pitch with my boss. In the end, we won the client and I believe it was the event that properly kick started my career at AD. A close second of course would have been the company wide cruise in 2019 from Genoa in Italy that was a lot of fun.

What advice would you give someone just starting their career?

I would tell someone to not be afraid to take risks or put yourself forward for things. As someone who was somewhat shy leaving college and starting in a professional setting I think it held me back a lot early on in my career. As cheesy as it sounds, I remember reading the passage of Teddy Roosevelt’s speech* that talked about the man in the arena and it spoke to me, I thought if I failed I’d fail trying the best I could. I would say the same to anyone: embarrassment is temporary. To be resilient, tenacious and to make an honest effort at work is commendable and if you’ve gone to the effort of studying for years you owe it to yourself.

*Theodore Roosevelt, April 1910, “The Man in the Arena”

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

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