Tuesday 21 January 2020

Bank of Ireland's Cunningham exits after three decades

Mark Cunningham
Mark Cunningham

Gretchen Friemann

Bank of Ireland's head of business banking, Mark Cunningham, is standing down after 30 years with the lender, the Irish Independent has established.

He will be replaced by Michael Lauhoff, head of business banking growth.

Mr Cunningham's exit comes weeks after the bank announced to staff that Mick Sweeney, the former interim CEO of the bank's insurance subsidiary, New Ireland Assurance, will leave the group later this year.

It is understood Mr Cunningham, who previously led the bank's private banking arm, intends to pursue a new business opportunity, potentially outside the financial services sector.

A former economic adviser to Fine Gael leader John Bruton, Mr Cunningham holds a board seat on The Ireland Funds, a global philanthropic organisation that funnels money from the Irish diaspora to worthy projects in Ireland and throughout the world.

He was appointed as director of business banking in 2009, at the nadir of the financial crisis, and shortly after outgoing CEO Richie Boucher ascended to the top job. Mr Boucher will leave on October 2 to make way for his successor, Francesca McDonagh, a former high-level banker at HSBC.

In a note to staff Bank of Ireland's head of retail, Liam McLoughlin, paid tribute to Mr Cunningham, pointing out that under his stewardship the lender has become the leading business banking franchise in the sector.

He said Mr Cunningham had helped "guide and steer our clients through the difficulties caused by the recent economic downturn".

According to its latest financial results Bank of Ireland lends to nearly 200,000 small-to-medium enterprises.

Mr Cunningham will leave in September. Mr McLaughlin said his replacement, Mr Lauhoff, "brings an extensive CV across retail banking to this role".

Prior to his current role he acted as regional manager North West, and in 2010 was appointed to head of small business and agri in 2010.

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