Davy chief executive Bernard Byrne told staff on Tuesday he plans to quit next year after half a decade with the stockbroking and wealth-management firm, having stepped up in 2021 to take charge of the business and oversee its sale to Bank of Ireland in the wake of a Central Bank fine.
Mr Byrne (55) joined Davy as head of its capital markets division in May 2019, having previously served as chief executive of AIB.
He took up the interim role at Davy in March 2021 after chief executive Brian McKiernan, deputy chairman Kyran McLaughlin and head of bonds Barry Nangle resigned their positions in the country’s largest stockbroking firm amid the fallout from a €4.1 million Central Bank fine over a controversial bond trade in 2014.
Mr Byrne was confirmed as chief executive early last year, months before the €427 million Bank of Ireland deal was completed.
“Post the successful integration of Davy under Bank of Ireland ownership, continuing strong momentum and a positive outlook, next year feels like the right time for a leadership transition to drive the next phase of growth for Davy and its clients,” said Mr Byrne.
“The Davy team is now over 900 strong, still growing and motivated to deliver for clients. I have always viewed Bank of Ireland as the optimum owner of this great business and I am confident that under its ownership the firm’s best days lie ahead.”
A search process to identify a new chief executive will commence immediately. Davy said. In the interim, Mr Byrne will remain in his current role. He is said to be planning to take a break for a period after leaving Davy before taking on a new role.
“Bernard has been an exceptional leader of Davy during a time of considerable change and has assembled an experienced and talented executive management team,” said Davy chairman Vincent Crowley.
“In addition to playing an integral part in the sales process, he has worked to expand and grow Davy’s business, including integrating Bank of Ireland’s high-net-worth clients into Davy earlier this year.”
The move comes after Davy opened small redundancy programmes in September in its capital markets business in the UK and Ireland, which is understood to have resulted in 12 exits.
The job cuts come amid an ongoing downturn in capital markets activity – including fundraisings, initial public offerings and other types of deals – against a backdrop of concerns about the global economy and interest rates, as well an expected slump in trading in Irish equities as some of the largest companies on Euronext Dublin prepare to quit the market.
Still, the brokerage has been adding positions since the Bank of Ireland takeover in areas such as wealth management, its Davy Horizons sustainability consultancy and building up a small bonds team, after its previous bonds desk was disbanded in 2021 after the Central Bank fine.
Bank of Ireland chief executive Myles O’Grady paid tribute to Mr Byrne for “driving the transformation and integration” of Davy into the bank.
“Davy – along with New Ireland and Bank of Ireland’s wealth business – is central to the group’s multiyear strategy for wealth management,” he said. “Bernard’s successor will play an important role in the next stage of the achievement of our strategy.”