2024 Speakers

Claire Brock, Virgin Media News Journalist and Presenter on The Tonight Show

With over twenty years in broadcasting, Claire Brock is an experienced news and current affairs presenter, interviewer, and moderator. An engaging and enthusiastic anchor with a wide knowledge of current affairs, comfortable and informed across a broad range of topics, she is ideally placed to MC and host events. Claire hosts the Tonight Show, the flagship current affairs programme on Virgin Media Television. As a regular on-screen presence, she’s an established news anchor covering major stories and live news events. Claire began her career in TV3 Ireland in 2002, as an assistant news producer, before a move to radio. During her time on the airwaves she worked in the newsroom in East Coast FM and Q102, before becoming a main news anchor on Dublin’s 98fm. Claire was lured back to television in 2007, where she anchored and reported across news programming including The News at 530, and Tonight with Vincent Browne. Her experience extends to daytime television where she co-presented TV3’s Morning Show with Martin King for a time. She was also a founding producer on FYI, a flagship news show for the channel’s sister station 3e. Claire joined UTV Ireland in 2014 (now Virgin Media) as part of the newly launched channel’s news line-up where she co-anchored the Ireland Live news programme. In 2018 she became the face of Virgin Media Television’s News at 8. She now co-hosts VMTV’s The Tonight Show, a cutting edge news programme, providing debate and analysis, four nights a week. Claire graduated from Dublin City University with a journalism degree in 2002.

Eoin McGee Certified Financial Planner, Radio & TV Broadcaster, Author and Podcast Host 

Eoin McGee is a Certified Financial Planner CFP©, and Qualified Financial Advisor QFA. Eoin is the host of the ‘Understanding Money with Eoin McGee’ podcast, which has topped the charts at Number 1 since its release in October 2023. Eoin has been working with clients and businesses for 20 years. He started his career with Irish Life assurance where he learned the inner workings of a large life company. He left to spend time in technical support in Standard Life before returning to Irish Life as a financial planner. Eoin presented three seasons of a show called ‘How to be Good with Money’ which aired on RTE One. Each week, Eoin helped a household to manage their money better and achieve their financial goals. Eoin also wrote a book by the same name which is a No.1 bestseller and is in the top three of bestselling Personal Finance books of all time. In 2022, Eoin released his second book ‘How to Make Your Money Work’. The book has been at the top of the charts since its release. As well as regularly contributing features in the national press, Eoin is a regular personal finance expert guest on national radio and presents a financial segment on ‘Today with Claire Byrne’ on RTÉ Radio One. 

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Social Protection, Department of Social Protection

Heather Humphreys is a Fine Gael TD representing the people of Cavan/Monaghan. She is currently the Minister for Social Protection and Rural & Community Development

Niall O’Leary, Chief Sustainability Officer, Irish Life Investment Managers

Niall joined ILIM in March 2019 and has over 35 years’ experience in the financial services industry.  He  was appointed Chief Sustainability Officer in 2023 and is a member of the Executive Management Team.  He has overall responsibility for responsible investing in ILIM, including setting strategy, overseeing our stewardship agenda, ensuring adherence to regulatory commitments and working with the investment business to develop new and to enhance existing responsible investment strategies. Prior to that he was Head of Indexation and Fixed Income, with responsibility for ILIM’s equity indexation business and its active and passive fixed income capabilities.  He remains a member of the asset allocation committee. Prior to joining ILIM, Niall was Global Head of Fixed Income Portfolio Strategy at State Street Global Advisors.  He was responsible for leading a team of experienced investment professionals with operations in Dublin, London, Boston, Bangalore and Singapore.  The team represented investment capabilities to clients, spanning indexed and active fixed income, LDI, cash and currency. Prior to taking on this role he was Head of Fixed Income and Cash at State Street Global Advisors Ireland (formerly Bank of Ireland Asset Management), as well as managing the institutional real estate investment team.  Niall holds a Commerce Degree and a Master’s in Business Studies (first class) from University College Dublin.

Paul Torsney, Head of Trustee Services, Law Debenture Pension Trustees Ireland

Paul is a professional independent trustee and former pensions consultant with over 17 years’ experience working with trustees and sponsors in all areas of their pension provision​. Since joining LawDeb in 2021, Paul has developed the pensions trusteeship and governance business in Ireland and now works with a range of defined benefit, defined contribution and master trust clients. Prior to joining LawDeb, Paul spent 14 years with Willis Towers Watson, working as a Director and Consulting Actuary. He advised companies and trustees on all aspects of pension provision and was involved in a wide range of specialist knowledge areas, included scheme actuary functions, wind-up projects and developing solutions to meet the challenge of increasing governance and risk management requirements arising from IORP II and related regulations. Paul is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland and a Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA). He was Chair of the Pension Committee and a member of the Council of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland. Having obtained a B.A. in Theoretical Physics from Trinity College Dublin, Paul went on to complete a M.Sc. in Financial and Industrial Mathematics from Dublin City University and a Master of Advanced Study in Mathematics from Cambridge. 

Michael Dowling, Professor of Finance, DCU Business School

Michael Dowling is a Professor of Financial Technology at Dublin City University, where he focuses on the application of machine learning and AI in finance. He has published over 50 international peer-reviewed articles, primarily examining financial behaviour and the utilization of advanced algorithms in the financial sector. Prior to moving to DCU he was Director of the AI-driven Business research centre in Rennes School of Business, France. Earlier this year, Michael published the first study on Generative AI in finance – exploring its applications and the next steps in development. The study received widespread international media coverage including in the Financial Times and the World Economic Forum. He now works with numerous companies on developing practical implementations of GenAI solutions. Some of these applications include natural language querying of SQL databases and customer response automation systems.

Shane O’Farrell, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Irish Life

Shane is the Director of Corporate Partnership since early 2023, after holding a number of other senior positions in Irish Life Corporate Business including Propositions and Product Pricing.

A qualified actuary (since 1999), Shane has a First Class Degree from UCD in Actuarial and Financial Studies. Shane has most recently led Irish Life thought development and research in areas like Auto Enrolment and DB De-Risking. Active in the industry, Shane has presented to large experts groups like the IAPF and Society of Actuaries many times and is former chair of the Society of Actuaries Finance and Investment Committee. A QFA, he is passionate about helping corporates achieve success in Employee Benefits and in member engagement in pensions in particular via behavioural science innovations.

Dr Féidhlim McGowan, Lecturer in Economics (above the Bar), Department of Economics, University of Galway and Research Affiliate, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)

Féidhlim joined the ESRI’s Behavioural Research Unit (BRU) as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in February 2022. He worked with the BRU to design and test policy interventions to boost decisions in the area of switching provider of financial services. His PhD thesis examines how numerical information is represented and weighted in decisions by consumers and experts.

Féidhlim holds an MSc in Behavioural Economics from the University of Nottingham, an LL.M. in International and European Business Law from Trinity College Dublin (TCD), and a BA in Economics and Psychology, also from TCD. He previously worked as a Research Assistant in the BRU from 2016-2018. He has co-authored seven peer-reviewed articles in psychology, behavioural economics, and consumer policy journals, and has contributed to four non-journal publications.

Wendy McKeown, Head of Financial Planning, Unio Wealth Management

Wendy has been providing financial planning advice and pensions expertise to individuals and business owners in Ireland for more than 20 years. She has a passion for working with clients, enabling them to make financial decisions and helping them achieve their life goals. Prior to working with Unio, Wendy spent several years working with Deloitte, assisting pension schemes and professionals with their wealth planning. Wendy has completed the Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning from University College Dublin.

Laura Farrell, CEO, Retirement Planning Council of Ireland (RPCI).

In December 2020, Laura Farrell was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Retirement Planning Council of Ireland (RPCI). In this role, she works closely with the Board of Directors to deliver the RPCI’s strategic plan. She leads the team of support staff, course leaders and specialists to manage the delivery of retirement courses nationwide. She oversees the organisation’s expanding corporate and individual membership base and is increasing the RPCI’s footprint in Ireland.

Laura is a strategic and imaginative leader with over 20 years’ experience driving B2B/B2C growth and development through a combination of commercial and creative ability. She has a passion for growing purpose-led organisations that make a difference. She has worked in a variety of leadership roles in multinational, indigenous and not-for-profit organisations. She joined the RPCI from Insurance Ireland, where she held the position of Chief Membership Engagement Officer and was responsible for membership development and engagement. Prior to this, Laura held the position of Marketing Manager with the Irish Management Institute. Laura was a voluntary member of the Board of The IFSC Inner City Trust until the end of 2020.

Ian Moynihan Director of Propositions, Irish Life

Ian is the Director of Propositions since 2023, leading the development of Irish Life’s corporate propositions in the key benefit areas of Pension, Protection, Health and Investment. Prior to this role, Ian held the position of Head of Client Services for Corporate Pension and Risk clients, leading Irish Life’s advice to clients on the impact of IORP II, and the development of governance structures for standalone plans and the Irish Life Empower Master Trust. Ian joined Irish Life in 2017 from a professional services firm, where he advised employers and trustees in relation to DC and investment strategy. A keen problem-solver, he enjoys the challenge of anticipating the future of employee benefits, drawing insights from international practice.

Fiona Mullally, Head of Client Services – Pension & Risk, Irish Life

Fiona has over 20 years industry experience. She joined Irish Life in July 2021 from Willis Towers Watson where she worked as a Senior DC Pension Consultant providing consultancy support to the Employer and Trustee Boards on the management of their Company Pension Schemes

Fiona has extensive experience working with some of Ireland’s largest companies on the set-up, review and transition of their pension arrangements.

Fiona has BA in Finance, a Masters in Economic Science along with a qualification in Investment Management and the QFA designation.

James Skehan, Lecturer, LIA

James has more than 40 years pensions industry experience. He was Head of Pensions with New Ireland Assurance for 20 years.
He also headed up General Investment Trust, the trustee subsidiary company of New Ireland, for more than a decade. James currently acts
as an independent professional trustee and advises employers and trustees on pension matters. He is also the Retirement Planning (RPA)
lecturer on LIA’s Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning – the gateway to the CFP® certification.

Paul Leandro APFS, Partner, Barnett Waddington

Paul graduated from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 2001 with a degree in Philosophy and Social Policy. He is a qualified Chartered Financial Planner and is an Associate of the Personal Finance Society. He was made a partner of the firm in June 2014.Paul’s remit within the firm’s defined contribution (DC) consulting practice is head of the North and Scotland team. He is also a member of the firm’s Employer Consulting Board. Paul specialises in advising corporate and trustee clients in the design and ongoing governance of DC pension arrangements. Paul has developed particular expertise in all elements of DC pension consultancy; from scheme design and governance, establishing and delivering communication and member engagement plans, DC scheme consolidation and wind up projects, through to managing defined benefit (DB) to DC transition exercises. Paul’s extensive experience, clear advice and proactive approach have helped him to become a trusted consultant to a wide range of UK and multi-national businesses and various trustee boards. He’s also very well-travelled, having visited Australia and the US for strategic meetings with pension providers, investment houses, regulators and other consultancies.

Martin McAlister, Senior Manager, Pensions, PwC

Martin is a Senior Manager in the PwC Pensions practice. He is a qualified actuary with 15 years’ experience providing independent pension consultancy services to UK and Irish public and private sector pension arrangements, assisting trustees and companies with strategic and regulatory oversight, investment governance and member communications suppor

Martin has supported the development of PwC’s defined contribution market due diligence, with a focus on investment options and strategy; ensuring robust challenge around strategic goals (including ESG ambitions); ongoing investment performance monitoring and assessing if investment strategy remains fit for purpose. Martin’s focus is on helping clients identify optimal pension investment, administration and communication solutions.

Martin holds a B.Sc in Actuarial Science and Risk Management from Queen’s University, Belfast and is a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the Society of Actuaries in Ireland.

David Boylan, Retirement Programme Manager, Intel Ireland

David has over 12 years industry experience.  He started his career in pension consultancy working as a DC consultant and then moved into the area of risk and healthcare benefits working with some of Ireland’s largest companies in both fields.

David transitioned from consultancy to in house pension and benefits management in 2016 working for one of Ireland’s largest employers.  In 2021 he joined Intel as Retirement Program Manager responsible for the governance and day to day management of retirement benefits within Ireland, the Nordics and Germany.

He has a Bachelor of Commerce and Masters in Finance from UCD.  He has completed the IIPM Postgraduate Diploma in Pensions Management and Policy, the LIA’s Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning and holds the QFA designation.

Sarah McCague, Partner, Arthur Cox

Sarah advises on all aspects of pensions law and charity law. She advises trustees and employers on the establishment and day-to-day operation of occupational pension schemes including: on scheme restructuring; liability management exercises; benefit design; benefit reductions; scheme amendments; administration queries for example those in relation to pension adjustment orders; the winding up of pension schemes; and the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) to pension schemes. She also advises in relation to the application of the Charities Act, 2009 and in particular in relation to applications to the Charities Regulatory Authority; obtaining tax-exempt status from the Revenue Commissioners; the mergers of charities; fundraising queries, and governance matters.