Business Irish

Sunday 19 November 2017

Internal candidates and outsiders in the running for top bank job

Fiona Muldoon, FBD. Photo: Arthur Carron/Collins
Fiona Muldoon, FBD. Photo: Arthur Carron/Collins
Mark Bourke, AIB
Senan Murphy, Ulster Bank
Liam McLoughlin, Bank of Ireland
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

It ought to be the most coveted job in Irish banking, but the Government pay cap will narrow the field of candidates to take over at Bank of Ireland.

As things stand Bank of Ireland won't be able to offer Richie Boucher's current pay package of more than €840,000. Any newcomer will be subject to the State's pay cap - a maximum of €500,000.

That will rule some top bankers out of the race from the off.

Irishman John Hourican currently heads Bank of Cyprus and is known to be keen to return to Ireland but is seen as unlikely to give up his current pay package, which is in excess of €1.1m. Even further out of reach of BoI in pay terms is Senan Murphy. He was its chief operating officer until just over a year ago and knows the bank inside out.

However, joining CRH as group finance director has nudged his basic pay to €705,000 this year, and he stands to make three-and-a-half times that again in shares and bonuses. At CRH, Murphy also has a tilt, ultimately, at the CEO role that earned Albert Manifold a stonking €10m last year.

Pay won't be an issue if the bank recruits internally. A clutch of senior managers, including Michael Torpey who head the Corporate and Treasury Division, and Des Crowley, who runs the large UK retail business, are of a similar vintage to Richie Boucher, which may rule them out as long-term prospects. The internal field is thought to be led by Liam McLoughlin, head of the retail business in Ireland. McLoughlin, who joined from Ulster Bank, was previously chief operating officer and has worked in corporate banking and capital markets.

Retail lending is the bank's bread and butter, and running it also means being on top of the running sore that mortgage arrears remains for the entire sector.

Also in the running internally is Andrew Keating, BoI's chief financial officer (CFO). He's already a director, and part of the bank's key market facing team.

Outsiders in the mix could include Jim Brown, the Dublin- based Kiwi who ran Ulster Bank until two years ago. He now runs RBS unit Williams & Glyn, but its planned sale has been shelved.

FBD Insurance CEO Fiona Muldoon is already a director of Bank of Ireland, so she knows the lender, and its board knows her. Tapping her for the top job would be a first in Irish banking but she may be too new in her current role, to enter the fray. That's also true of Gerry Mallon at Ulster Bank, who also only took his current job this year.

Permanent TSB chief Jeremy Masding is already subject to the pay cap, but the only big bank not to turn a profit last year remains a work in progress, which may make a move less likely.

AIB CFO Mark Bourke took a pay cut when he left IFG to join the bailed-out bank. He has his hands full in the run-up to this summer's IPO, but being of the same generation as his boss, Bernard Byrne, invariably limits the prospects of advancement if he remains where he is. 

Irish Independent

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