Meet Matt Irish, Head of Capital Markets

Behind Perenna is a great bunch of people. Meet them here. 27 May 2021 by Casper Arboll

Meet Matt, Leon and Anoushka’s dad and our Head of Capital Markets. It’s Matt’s job to establish and maintain the covered bond funding programme, the backbone of Perenna’s unique mortgage funding model. On a day to day basis, he works closely with teams across the firm, Treasury, Finance, Risk and Legal.

Before joining Perenna, Matt worked for ten years for Barclays Capital and eight years at RBS, focusing on securitisations and covered bond programmes. He found his way into a city career after obtaining a mathematics degree from Oxford University.

While his CV and banking accomplishments speak for themselves, many don’t know that Matt’s talent extends beyond banking. He is a skilled water polo player who represented West London Penguin in the water polo equivalent of the Champions League. We’re delighted to have Matt’s grit and positive attitude on the Perenna team.

Quick Questions

Favourite place to eat out?
I enjoy eating out but haven’t had the chance for a long time. I’ve got a few friends I meet up with now and then go out somewhere nice for dinner. That is a great evening, and I can’t wait to get back and have another one after lockdown.

Favourite Film/ TV show?
Intolerable Cruelty

What’s one thing we don’t know about you?
I play water polo in my spare time. I used to play seriously for Penguin, a West London Water Polo Club. We made it to play the Water Polo Champions League. Today I’m playing in Watford, for fun.

Favourite place you’ve visited?
I’ve enjoyed travelling to China and Japan. They don’t have the same cultural presumptions that we’re just used to in the West. Those are my favourite travel experiences, just because they’re so mind-bogglingly different.

Who’s your favourite superhero?
Good question. I’m a big comic fan. I enjoy the Marvel universe. I loved Dangermouse as a boy. I have to say Dangermouse.

If you could live in one fictional setting for a day, where would you pick?
Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Or any chocolate factory, frankly.

Cats or dogs?
I like them both.

Why did you join Perenna?

I crossed paths with Arjan in my first job at Barclays, and we’ve kept in touch. We caught up when my last job was coming to an end. Arjan shared his vision for Perenna. It sounded exciting. It puzzles me that no other bank has championed the Perenna model earlier. I’ve worked in mortgage finance for almost two decades and never questioned that there could be an alternative to the traditional UK method. I think we have a real shot at changing how the market works and making a positive difference for millions of UK consumers.

Another deciding factor was trying to work in a smaller organisation which is a big contrast to the corporate settings. We’ve created a clear purpose for the company with a collaborative culture where everyone is aligned and pulling in the same direction. That suits me well, and I’m enjoying it.

How have you adjusted to a remote-first working culture?

I enjoy working from home and happily avoiding the daily commute. But I miss the small interactions with colleagues and getting to know people outside an appointed formal context.

A big plus of working from home is spending more time with my family. I could easily have not seen them during the week for the last two years, but the last year I’ve been fortunate to see them many times every day, that’s nice.

Any tips or tricks for making WFH a good experience?

I feel pretty lucky that I’ve got an office with a lock on the door. That gives me a nice space to work in, free from interruptions. If you can manage to organise that for yourself, do it, but I understand not everyone can. My kids are five and seven, so they both need constant supervision, which is easily two full-time jobs.

How do you get to know your colleagues in a remote-first setting?

I think Perenna has done a good job of thinking about it and trying to encourage people to interact. In the office, I might walk past you and say, “Hi, how’s it going? I haven’t spoken to you before”. Those interactions are important for building rapport and relationships amongst colleagues. It isn’t easy to replicate that through Microsoft Teams, especially when we’re growing so fast. Our online socials have been a great way to replace that and get to know colleagues, especially those I don’t work with daily.

What should we look out for to enjoy a water polo match?

Tough question. There are so many things going on in a match. Each team has seven players, six outfield players and a goalkeeper. When a team has the ball, they have to take a shot within 30 seconds. The goals look like small football goals placed above the water surface, either on the water or on the sides. Most often, a team will position their strongest player as an attacker in front of the opponent’s goal. He will try to make room for the other players by taking the defence’s focus, or the others will try to pass to him for a shot on goal. It’s an intensive game with many tackles and blocks, which requires a lot of physical strength. The players need to have the upper body above water to get shots on goal or block the opponent’s chances. They do a technique called eggbeater to keep the upper body above water.

Which game should we try to watch?

You’ll have a good chance this summer with the Olympics coming up. The Balkan teams are historically the world’s best. Try to watch any match involving Serbia or Croatia, even better if they’re playing against each other. I support Montenegro. I had a Montenegrin coach who inspired me to follow their national team.