Sunday 22 July 2018

BoI loses more talent in shake-up at lender

Francesca McDonagh , CEO, Bank of Ireland
Francesca McDonagh , CEO, Bank of Ireland

Gretchen Friemann

Stephen Mason, head of group customer operations at Bank of Ireland, is among a handful of executives to quit the group in the past six weeks as the lender continues to reduce its senior to middle management ranks amid a wider restructuring drive.

Mr Mason, who appeared in front of an Oireachtas Finance Committee last year, alongside Liam McLoughlin, the former head of Bank of Ireland's retail arm, left the organisation at the end of June.

An internal note announcing his resignation in May, and seen by the Irish Independent, stated Mr Mason, who worked in various positions at the lender through a 32-year career, left "to pursue new opportunities".

His departure comes as veteran banker, Gabriel Bannigan, a one-time head of Bank of Ireland's private wealth division, also quit recently after more than two decades with the group.

It is understood Mr Bannigan, who briefly helmed Bank of Scotland Ireland's retail business, exited last week.

Garvan Callan, director of customer, digital and innovation at the group, and formerly a key player in the group's fintech strategy, left over a month ago.

The roll call of outgoing executives is expected to expand significantly over the next six months as new CEO Francesca McDonagh, pictured, attempts to drive down operating costs by €200m to €1.7bn by 2021.

A voluntary redundancy scheme has been in operation for some time and it is understood the group aims to aggressively scale back its middle to senior level management numbers - referred to internally as grades 4, 5 & 6 - by 200 to 300 by the end of the year.

However at the Bank of Ireland's recent strategy day, which laid out the group's growth ambitions until 2021, Ms McDonagh insisted she has not set any specific headcount target.

In addition to overhauling the bank's technology systems, Ms McDonagh is pushing to improve the lender's culture.

A first survey of staff in almost a decade revealed widespread dissatisfaction in the organisation at the end of last year, but the Irish Independent understands that recent follow-up polls show a progressive rise in staff engagement levels across the group.

After the initial survey, staff engagement sat at 50pc.

At the end of the first quarter this increased to 52pc and by the half-year mark had reached 55pc.

The bank intends to invest almost €14m in training, upskilling and professional development for employees in an effort to further bolster morale and staff engagement.

Irish Independent

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