Bank of Ireland has widened its stock awards programme to include a number of members of its top executive team, including its retail Ireland chief executive Susan Russell and chief executive of corporate and commercial banking Gavin Kelly.
The bank handed seven of its 12-member group executive committee a combined 27,995 shares valued €240,337 under the first year of the new so-called fixed-share allowance programme. The executives, who also include chief people officer Matt Elliott and chief strategy and transformation officer Enda Johnson, must hold on to the shares for at least three years under the plan.
The awards were disclosed in a stock market filing on Friday. The bank plans to issue the same level of awards to the seven individuals on a quarterly basis next year, a spokesman confirmed.
The move comes after Bank of Ireland’s board outlined in March, months after the Government lifted executive pay restrictions at the lender, that it plans to grant group chief executive Myles O’Grady and chief financial officer Mark Spain shares equivalent to 25 per cent of their base salary next year, rising to a maximum 50 per cent payout from 2025.
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Because the so-called fixed share awards were not subject to any performance conditions, they fall outside the scope of an effective continuing ban on performance-related bonuses above €20,000 enshrined in the Finance Act 2011 after taxpayers were forced to rescue the nation’s banks.
The Government moved in December to lift a crisis-era €500,000 limit on executive fixed pay at Bank of Ireland, months after it sold its remaining shares in the bank. It also allowed for a return of bonuses of up to €20,000 across the sector, but any performance-related pay above that level remains subject to a prohibitive 89 per cent levy.
“As communicated in our 2022 annual report, Bank of Ireland Group has introduced a fixed share allowance for executive directors. Following an external remuneration benchmarking review, participation in the fixed share allowance has now been extended to a number of members of the group executive committee,” a spokesman for the bank said.
“This is one of a number of changes announced this year. These include the introduction of variable pay for colleagues at all levels of the organisation – to be awarded in 2024 based on 2023 performance – and a new health benefit for colleagues in [the Republic and Northern Ireland].”
The range of changes to remuneration and benefits made this year allow the bank to compete “on a more level playing field globally, with both banking and non-banking employers, to attract and retain the talent we need to serve our customers, innovate for the future, and grow and manage our business,” the spokesman said.