Friday 20 September 2019

Bank of Ireland's Bannigan moves on from private banking unit

Banker Gabriel Bannigan
Banker Gabriel Bannigan

Gretchen Friemann

Veteran banker Gabriel Bannigan has stepped down from his role as head of Bank of Ireland Private after the lender shifted responsibility for the business to Seán Ó Murchú, head of Bank of Ireland Life.

It is understood that Mr Bannigan is in line for another senior position as details about the full extent of the merging of the Private Bank with the rest of the group emerge.

Bank of Ireland confirmed that it has recently completed what it described as a "series of corporate alignment improvements" across its Wealth platform including the appointment of Seán Ó Murchú as director of Wealth Distribution.

The changes come as the new Bank of Ireland CEO Francesca McDonagh, who took over the reins from Richie Boucher earlier this month, considers a fresh strategic course for the group. It also follows a string of senior executive departures in recent months.

These include Mick Sweeney, who led the group's wealth-management operations for almost six years and acted as interim CEO at the group's insurance subsidiary, New Ireland Assurance, as well as the former head of business banking, Mark Cunningham.

While Mr Bannigan's new role remains unclear, sources said he was parachuted into the role of head of private banking last year, charged with executing what the bank viewed as a complex and difficult merger.

The consolidation was concluded in September and has seen the bulk of BoI's private banking operations merging onto the platform of the Bank of Ireland Life division, headed by Mr Ó Murchú.

Mr Bannigan was redeployed to the unit in April 2016 and sources said his appointment was part of a strategy to fold the relatively expensive operations of the private bank into the group.

Bank of Ireland's wealth-management business oversees three main business lines: mass wealth, premier wealth and the more exclusive, high-net-worth division.

Under the far-reaching overhaul - designed partly to streamline operations ahead of looming EU regulations, known as Mifid II - Mr Ó Murchú now has oversight of both the mass wealth management and high-net-worth elements.

Bank of Ireland Life also holds compliance oversight of the premium-end banking division, although sources said this unit does not report into Mr Ó Murchú.

The scale of the overhaul raises questions about Bank of Ireland's strategy for its private banking division. It is understood that the lender may purse more bolt-on acquisitions, similar to the Covestone Asset Management purchase in January.

Mr Bannigan briefly led Bank of Scotland Ireland's retail business. His senior roles at Bank of Ireland include a stint as managing director of the group's Bristol & West subsidiary in the UK, which is regarded as one of the bank's most high-profile positions.

Irish Independent

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