Tuesday 26 September 2017

Former NIB chief executive Healy lands plum bank job in Maldives

Innovator: Banker Andrew Healy. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Innovator: Banker Andrew Healy. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Nick Webb

Nick Webb

ANDREW Healy, the former boss of National Irish Bank (NIB), has landed a plum job on a tropical island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, becoming the new chief executive of the Bank of Maldives.

Healy's new role will take him away from the rain to the sun-kissed island paradise, made up of 1,200 coral isles surrounded by white sand beaches and azure seas.

The Maldives is renowned for its beautiful island resorts which attract around one million tourists a year.

Bank of Maldives (BML) is the largest bank in the Maldives, providing a full range of banking services to 235,000 individuals, businesses and institutional investors.

The Maldives financial services sector is booming and BML is now thought to be one of the largest employers in the country.

Career banker Healy, 47, took over NIB as it was reeling from a series of reputational disasters in the wake of an overcharging and offshore account scandal uncovered by Charlie Bird and George Lee. A Sunday Independent poll found that NIB was the "least trusted" bank in the country.

However, Healy -- who was Ireland's youngest ever bank chief executive -- stabilised the bank, introducing a strong ethical regime, helping to restore the bank's reputation. He was the first banker, when he became president of the Institute of Banking, to say that the banks needed to apologise for their role in the Irish economic crash.

Healy was seen as one of the great banking innovators in Ireland, with NIB a pioneer in developing a highly effective online and mobile banking presence with the launch of a cutting-edge technology platform in 2006. The former RBS executive also pioneered cashless banking, which is a growing trend. The bank also played a key role in shaking up the Irish banking landscape which had been dominated by BoI and AIB.

Its Danish parent, Danske, had already entered the commercial property lending market when he took over, but Healy capped lending to developers fearing the market was overheating. As with all the other banks in the country, NIB was hit by the downturn and collapse in property values. However, the conservative approach to mortgage lending during the boom meant that, despite taking a hit, Danske's mortgage book is the most solid in the country.

Healy also served on NIB's parent company Danske's Group Executive Committee in Denmark, the first ever non- Scandinavian member. His name was mentioned as a possible successor to the then group chief executive Peter Straarup. He stood down from the bank in May 2012 as part of a group-wide restructuring, taking the decision to set up his own business. NIB was renamed Danske and repositioned completely as the downturn worsened. The bank is now exiting the retail banking business.

BML's board of directors carried out a global search for their CEO and stated that they interviewed over 100 applicants for the job, selecting Healy, whom they described as "an experienced and very capable individual", to lead the next phase of the bank's strategic development. Among the skills sought were a proven ability to "effect change and modernise the bank to international standards".

Healy was not available for comment this weekend. However, a source close to him said: "Andrew is a proud Irish man and while he loves Ireland, the opportunity to wear the Irish jersey abroad is something that he found difficult to resist.

"He has missed the buzz of leading people and this looks like a very interesting role that will suit his qualities."

Irish Independent

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