Business Irish

Monday 11 December 2017

Meet the Irish banker who earned €6.3m after turning down AIB top job for €500,000

Liam McGee, chief executive officer of Hartford Financial Services Group
Liam McGee, chief executive officer of Hartford Financial Services Group
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

An Irishman has been named as one of the 50 best paid executives on Wall Street after he turned down the chance to run bailed-out AIB, where salaries are capped at €500,000 a year.

Donegal-born Liam McGee is CEO of Hartford Financial Services, one of the biggest insurance and wealth-management firms in the US.

Before he joined the US firm in 2009, Mr McGee was tipped as the front-runner to manage AIB, following the nationalisation of the bank.

However, it would have meant signing up for a maximum €500,000-a-year salary and Mr McGee took the job at Hartford instead.

In contrast, his starting salary at Hartford in the US was $1.1m (€880,000) in 2009, and has since risen to $1.4m (€1.1m).

Last year, his take-home pay hit $7.9m (€6.3m), after he landed bonuses of $6.5m (€5.2m).

It was enough to see him ranked as the 39th best paid US financial services executive, according to research by Bloomberg.

Mr McGee moved to the US at a young age and is little known outside the banking world. Before he moved to Hartford, and before being tipped for the top job at AIB, he headed Bank of America's consumer and small business unit -- serving 50 million customers.

News of his US pay deal is sure to lead to increased calls from within the banking industry for an lift in the cap on pay at bailed-out banks.

However, the research from Bloomberg reveals that a 20pc increase in US executive pay last year did not lead to any improvement for shareholders.

In 2009, the top job at AIB went initially to Colm Doherty, a long-time executive with the bank. Last year, David Duffy took over as ceo. Pay for both was capped at €500,000 a year.


According to Bloomberg's research, cousins Henry Kravis and George Roberts of KKR were the best paid executives on Wall Street, with take-home pay of $30m and $29.9m respectively.

Warren Buffet -- famed as the "sage of Omaha" for his investment savvy -- took a salary of $500,000 last year, the only senior US financier earning less than the Irish salary cap.

Mr McGee is the only Irish-born executive in the ranking of top-paid Wall Street executives, though a high proportion of the best paid bankers are of Irish descent, including Bank of America's Brian Moynihan and Morgan Stanley's James Gorman.

All 50 of the best paid executives are men.

Irish Independent

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