Sunday 21 January 2018

Bank of Ireland calls in headhunter Korn Ferry for CEO job

Richie Boucher
Richie Boucher

Gretchen Friemann

Bank of Ireland is understood to have drafted in global headhunting firm Korn Ferry to helm the search for Richie Boucher's replacement.

News of the global search firm's role comes as senior executives in the two main banks voice increasing frustration at the Government-imposed banker pay caps.

The restrictions, which have been in force since 2008, limit executive salaries at the rescued banks to €500,000.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the pay limits may be relaxed for the new head of Bank of Ireland - but only for an external candidate - fuelling speculation the Government which still owns a 14pc slice of the lender, will wave through a more generous compensation package.

"If they appoint someone significant from outside, I think the parameters for negotiating pay will be somewhere in line with Richie Boucher's. It will depend on who they find. It's not decided yet," Mr Noonan said earlier this month.

Mr Boucher's total remuneration last year was €958,000.

Yet while Mr Boucher escaped the full force of the restriction, all executives at State-owned AIB remain under the pay cap .

The frustration at the pay cap and restrictions on bonuses remain a bugbear within the bank as the Government prepares to return AIB to the stock exchange by selling close to €3bn worth of shares later this year,

A senior executive at the bank said there was "a limit to the sustainability of this model" and argued that the increased competition for top talent in the wake of Brexit posed serious staff retention challenges.

"We want to be an employer of choice, we want to reward our staff fairly for their efforts and results, and in the absence of us having variable pay that is hard," he said.

He claimed that once the Brexit-related demands for banking staff become clearer the existing pay structure will "be challenged".

However others have questioned whether the domestic banks will face this level of competition, arguing that most of the Brexit jobs will be focused on back office roles.

Korn Ferry, a global executive search firm which acquired Hay Group in 2015, is understood to be acting for Bank of Ireland on a number of roles, including the CEO position.

A bank spokesperson declined to comment on the appointment.

However it is understood the firm's services were also deployed to recruit a new CEO at the Bank of Ireland-owned life assurer, New Ireland.

That search took 18 months with former Willis Towers Watson executive Michael Murphy appointed earlier this month.

Mr Boucher is due to stand down later this year.

Irish Independent

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