Changes in the boardroom since onset of crisis

Fri, Jun 11, 2010, 01:00

Anglo Irish Bank has seen the most comprehensive changes to its management team and board

THE PUBLICATION of the first official reports into the banking crisis has once again thrown into the spotlight the role of the banks’ senior management and board.

In his report, Patrick Honohan said there was “a comprehensive failure of bank management” to maintain safe and sound banking practices. So how much have the management and boards of the financial institutions changed since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007?


It was April 2009 when three of AIB’s most senior bankers agreed to step down. After surviving seven months of the crisis, AIB chairman Dermot Gleeson, chief executive Eugene Sheehy and finance chief John O’Donnell announced they were to resign.

The successors for the chief executive and chairman positions were internal candidates to some extent. Eugene Sheehy was succeeded by Colm Doherty, who became group managing director. Dermot Gleeson was replaced by Dan O’Connor, a board member since 2007.

In February this year AIB made the first external appointment to its management team when Bernard Byrne, a senior executive at the ESB, was appointed as the new chief financial officer.

In terms of board membership, of the 12 directors named in the 2009 annual report, eight served on the board in 2007.

Since 2007, two new non-executive directors have joined the board, Dick Spring and Michael Somers, while Declan Collier has also been appointed.

Jennifer Winters and Sean O’Driscoll, who had served on the board since 2004 and 2006 respectively, have resigned in recent months.


In February 2009, Richie Boucher, former head of Bank of Ireland’s Irish retail operations, replaced Brian Goggin, who had been at the helm at the bank throughout the crisis.

Bank of Ireland governor Richard Burrows became the fifth bank chairman to step down a few months later, saying that accountability “must be taken at the top”. He was replaced by Pat Molloy, a former chief executive of the bank from the 1990s.

Finance director John O’Donovan, former group finance director and company secretary at Aer Lingus, has remained in his position, which he was held since 2001.

The majority of Bank of Ireland’s non-executive directors have been on the board since 2007 or earlier. Paul Haran was appointed in 2005 and Rose Hynes, Jerome Kennedy and Heather Ann McSharry joined in 2007.


Nationalised Anglo Irish Bank has seen the most comprehensive changes to its management team and board. In early 2009 disgraced chairman Seán FitzPatrick was succeeded by Donal O’Connor. The former chairman of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority had been a non-executive director on Anglo’s board since June 2008 when he was appointed by Mr FitzPatrick. The other non-executive directors resigned in the wake of the bank’s nationalisation in early 2009.

In March this year, Mr O’Connor announced he was to resign. He is to be replaced shortly by Alan Dukes, who was appointed to the board of Anglo in December 2008 as a public interest director under the Government’s bank guarantee scheme.

The departure of Mr O’Connor from Anglo will leave only Government-appointed directors on the board of the State-owned bank.


In early 2009 finance director Peter Fitzpatrick, head of treasury David Gantly and later chief executive Denis Casey announced they were to resign after it emerged that Irish Life Permanent (ILP) had moved deposits of €7.45 billion into Anglo for several days over the latter bank’s previous financial year end.

Denis Casey was replaced by Kevin Murphy, former head of Irish Life, the company’s life business. Former chief financial officer Dave McCarthy was appointed finance director.

ILP chairman Gillian Bowler, dubbed the “great survivor” is the only chair of a covered institution not to resign since the Government guarantee. In terms of board membership, six of the nine non-executive directors on the board have been on the board since before 2007.

Recent new recruits to the board include former AIB group treasurer and chief risk officer Pat Ryan, who was appointed to the board in December 2009, former Boston Scientific executive Bernard Collins, who was appointed in March 2010, and barrister Margaret Hayes, appointed in December 2008.


EBS chief executive Fergus Murphy is the only chief executive not to stand down. However, he took up his position in January 2009, after much of the lending practices had taken place.

Chairman Mark Moran resigned in May 2009 and was succeeded by Philip Williamson, a non-executive director since 2007. In February this year, Emer Finnan, an executive director of the building society since 2007, was appointed finance director, a position she had held informally since May 2009 when former finance director Alan Merriman resigned.

Of the 11 non-executive directors, eight were in place pre-2008, although the majority were appointed in 2007. The exceptions are new HSE head Cathal Magee, who has been a non-executive director since 2002 and Eithne Tinney, who was first appointed in 2000.


The building society has seen a fairly comprehensive spring clean of its senior management and board membership. Former chief executive Michael Fingleton, who held his position for 37 years, was replaced by outsider Gerry McGinn, formerly head of Goodbody Stockbrokers in Northern Ireland, in mid-2009.

Former chairman Michael Walsh, who, along with Michael Fingleton, was at the helm during the height of the building society’s reckless lending activities, has been replaced by Danny Kitchen.

Mr Kitchen, who also served as acting chief executive after Mr Fingleton’s departure, is a former director of IBI Corporate Finance. He is a relatively new recruit to the board having been appointed to the board of Irish Nationwide in the first part of 2008. John McGloughlin is chief financial officer at the building society, replacing Stan Purcell.

Former directors David Brophy, Terry Cooney and ex-chairman Michael Walsh, all resigned during the first half of 2009.

Rory O’Ferrall and Adrian Kearns were appointed by the Government to the board. Sean Carey was appointed as a non-executive director in late 2008.