Sunday 23 September 2018

Bank of Ireland top executive to leave role

Liam McLoughlin's exit marks the second high-level departure from Bank of Ireland in as many months. Stock image
Liam McLoughlin's exit marks the second high-level departure from Bank of Ireland in as many months. Stock image

Gretchen Friemann

Liam McLoughlin, Bank of Ireland's long-serving head of retail banking, has become the latest high-ranking executive to leave following the arrival of new chief executive Francesca McDonagh.

In an internal memo to staff yesterday, the bank said Mr McLoughlin - who occupied a number of senior roles during his 14-year tenure - had quit to "pursue other opportunities".

Mr McLoughlin's exit marks the second high-level departure from the organisation in as many months. Before Christmas, Julie Sharp, the group's head of human resources, also left to "pursue other opportunities", according to an internal memo at the time.

The exits come in the wake of a number of high-profile departures last year. Those included Mark Cunningham, the bank's head of business banking, who built up a three-decade career at the group, and Mick Sweeney, who led the wealth-management division for almost six years and acted as interim CEO of New Ireland Assurance, Bank of Ireland's insurance subsidiary.

Mr McLoughlin, who is understood to have thrown his hat into the ring for the chief executive role, will leave his post at the end of January.

Unlike its peers, Bank of Ireland avoided full nationalisation after the crash, but steered clear of any sweeping changes to its upper ranks at that time.

But the exit of one of the most prominent members of former CEO Richie Boucher's top team has also led to predictions of further high-level departures.

In a statement to staff, Ms McDonagh, a former top executive at HSBC, said Mr McLoughlin had "played a key role in strengthening Bank of Ireland's position as the country's leading consumer and business bank" and added that he had spearheaded a number of "key strategic projects", including "transforming and modernising the branch network".

Mr McLoughlin's departure comes after a difficult period for the group, which saw it grappling with an unexpected surge in tracker mortgage claims.

An employee survey, the first in almost a decade, also revealed widespread staff dissatisfaction. It is understood levels of disengagement were highest in the retail division.

Ms McDonagh told staff she will provide an update shortly on Mr McLoughlin's replacement, fuelling expectations a fresh appointment is at an advanced stage.

Owen Callan of Investec said Mr McLaughlin's replacement will oversee "a lot of change" and said the key role will have a heavy focus on technology.

Bank of Ireland is in the midst of a €900m overhaul of its computer system, its largest ever investment in this area. Its successful implementation is viewed as a key driver of share price according to analysts.

Irish Independent

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