Business Irish

Tuesday 17 October 2017

NAMA wants bonuses to stem brain drain ahead of wind down

NAMA Chairman Frank Daly at Treasury Buildings. Photo: Tony Gavin
NAMA Chairman Frank Daly at Treasury Buildings. Photo: Tony Gavin
Independent TD Shane Ross described it as a loyalty bonus
Frank Daly

Colm Kelpie and Gordon Deegan

THE National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) needs to look at introducing performance bonuses to help attract and retain top talent, the agency's chairman has said.

Frank Daly told TDs yesterday that there needed to be some sort of a retention plan to encourage staff to stay.

NAMA staff are paid on average €90,000 but Mr Daly said 15 people had left the agency already this year.

He said the board would have to talk to Finance Minister Michael Noonan about the fact that NAMA staff were being asked effectively to "work themselves out of a job", without any rights to redundancy, as the agency will ultimately be wound up.

"It would be better to say to people if you stay with us for the next two or three years and if you meet your targets and if NAMA meets its targets ... then at the end of that process, on a deferred basis, you might get an extra payment," Mr Daly told the Dail's Public Accounts Committee

Independent TD Shane Ross described it as a loyalty bonus, but Mr Daly said it would be a "performance bonus for staying and working hard".

"The idea that NAMA will now be looking to top-up an average pay of €90,000 is just mind-boggling, quite honestly, in the current climate," Mr Ross said.

Mr Daly said the board was concerned at the difficulties in retaining staff and said the last thing the agency wanted was that it wouldn't be able to match the "A-Teams" in hedge funds and equity funds.

"This is not an argument about whether NAMA staff are well paid or not well paid," he said.

"This is a very practical argument about how there are plenty of opportunities in the market and if NAMA doesn't have the capacity in some way to ensure staff stay with us, it will be detrimental to NAMA's objectives."

He said the agency couldn't pay bonuses and that it would have to talk to the minister about the fact that NAMA staff were being asked effectively to "work themselves out of a job".

"I don't expect that this will be easy to get agreement on," he said.

Spending

Mr Daly and NAMA chief executive Brendan McDonagh, who would not be included in any potential retention plan, appeared before the Dail's public spending watchdog yesterday to discuss the recent progress report from the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG).

Mr McDonagh told the Committee that auctioneers and loan sales agents both at home and abroad had been paid about €144m for selling properties linked to the agency. He said they were paid about 1pc of a sale, with about €14bn sold to date.

Earlier, Mr Daly defended NAMA's decision to reject two recommendations from the C&AG on setting out target rates of return.

"There are a whole lot of benchmarks which to the board seem more meaningful, rather than constructing an overall benchmark in terms of rate of return," he said.

Mr Daly added that because of the nature of the organisation, the lack of certainty about how long it will be around and the fact that the market is rising, targets would have to be continuously revised.

NAMA confirmed yesterday that accountancy firm PwC has beaten off competition from four rivals to secure NAMA's lucrative internal audit contract.

The agency confirmed yesterday that PwC has secured the three year contract after the agency initiated a tender process to recruit new auditors in January.

Up until now, Deloitte had performed the role of internal auditors at Nama in a contract believed to be worth almost €900,000 per annum since 2009

The State's spending watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General acts as external auditor for NAMA – a relationship set out in the legislation establishing the property agency.

PwC will have have to perform a wide range of functions within its internal audit remit with the annual internal audit review.

According to the tender, these may include roles in relation to asset recovery: loan and asset management and sales; receivership appointment and management and outsourcing of property management.

PwC will have to provide a range of other functions under 'asset management', operations and division treasury.

PwC has been one of the winners from NAMA in terms of securing various contracts – the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan has previously confirmed that PwC has already received €13m in fees under various headings.

Irish Independent

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