Tuesday 16 January 2018

Only one permanent newcomer named on AIB's executive team

Bank boss defends decision to include staffers in all-male leadership committee

Laura Noonan

AIB boss David Hodgkinson last night defended his decision to include just one permanent external hire in the bank's revamped 10-man executive team, insisting that 'old' AIB had "a lot of very good people" who "quite rightly" deserve major roles.

The comments came after the bailed-out bank yesterday unveiled its new all-male leadership team, including seven existing AIB staffers, two secondees from Pricewaterhouse Coopers and a UK lawyer who is joining on a permanent basis.

AIB described the revamp as the start of "the most challenging change programme" that the bank had ever undertaken, with management changes further down the ranks to follow "progressively" over the coming months.

The line-up unveiled yesterday shows just two members of AIB's former 'group executive committee' -- RoI managing director Robbie Henneberry and AIB UK managing director Nick Treble -- don't feature in the new 'executive committee', although they still hold senior roles.


Mr Hodgkinson strongly defended the composition of AIB's new leadership team, saying he "couldn't agree" with criticisms that the revamp was not suitably dramatic for a bank that has been bailed out to the tune of €9.2bn.

"AIB wasn't all bad as an organisation, there were a lot of good people who quite rightly should still have significant roles," he said.

"And it's extremely risky to change every role at the same time."

The former HSBC executive said the bank had attracted significant outside interest in the process, but refused to be drawn on whether the €500,000 banking salary cap had been an impediment to outside recruitment.

"Everyone has agreed to come on board within the guidelines," he said, while declining to specify how close to the ceiling the new appointees' packages came.

Two of the new executive board members -- head of 'non-core' Peter Spratt and acting chief risk officer Stephen Bell -- are on secondment from accountancy firm PwC.

Mr Hodgkinson stressed that the duo were "not consultants" and would be "in full-time executive roles".

Mr Spratt has signed up for two years, a period Mr Hodgkinson described as "the critical time" for setting up the non-core unit that will run off some €19.4bn of AIB's loans.

Mr Bell will remain in place pending a process to appoint a chief risk officer; Mr Hodgkinson said headhunters were already on the case and "appear confident" of finding an appropriate candidate.

Mr Hodgkinson also stressed that many of the AIB staffers who would sit on the executive board were relatively recent additions or were new to the top-tier management team.

Bernard Byrne, a former ESB commercial director who joined the bank as chief financial officer a year ago, has been promoted to director of personal and business banking at the revamped AIB.

His replacement as 'acting' finance boss, Paul Stanley, was previously group financial controller and not on the group executive committee.

Joe O'Connor, who stays on as chief credit officer, and Marcel McCann, who remains in place as operations and technology director, both joined the old group executive board relatively recently.

Mr Hodgkinson himself, who will head the new executive board, has been with AIB for less than a year.

The only permanent newcomer is Keith Davies, a 63-year-old lawyer who is taking on the role of group services and transformation director.

Mr Davies's experience includes a lengthy stint practising business law in London, Brussels and Paris.

More recently, in 2006, he headed up the turnaround of 150 struggling organisations in the UK's NHS and "brought about a substantial reducing of the budget within one year", AIB said.

Irish Independent

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