Nama wants to offer staff ‘retention’ bonus for staying on

Chairman tells PAC payent needed to halt exodus to private sector

The National Asset Management Agency intends to ask Minister for Finance Michael Noonan about the possibility of offering "retention payments" to staff in order to prevent them from leaving for the private sector.

Nama chairman Frank Daly told the Public Accounts Committee that nobody in the agency was currently in receipt of a bonus but that a payment, deferred until the agency completed its work, was something that might need to be considered to incentivise staff to remain. Some 15 staff have left the agency this year.

Responding to Independent TD Shane Ross, he said Nama staff earned an average of €90,000 per annum but were in a “unique” situation as the progress they made in their work in shifting the assets held brought them closer to redundancy. Nama is due to complete its work by 2020 but the committee today heard this date was open ended and could come as soon as 2018.

Mr Daly said attracting and retaining staff was crucial to Nama doing its job to the best standard and it did not want to be in a situation where it could not compete with the offerings from “A-teams” on the wider circuit.


He said Nama, like all State bodies, was caught by FEMPI (the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act) and there was currently “no question” of it being in a position to make such payments.

Mr Daly said Nama would have to engage with Minister for Finance Michael Noonan about the matter as the agency was effectively asking people on fixed purpose contracts to put themselves out of a job. The issues would need to be addressed soon, he added.

He said he was aware of the “ramifications” this could have across the wider system but that the agency needed to construct something to say that if you stayed at Nama and meet your targets you could get a “retention payment” on a deferred basis.

Mr Ross described such a payment as a "loyalty bonus".

Mr Daly said Nama was not arguing about the pay levels on offer but said that the agency’s job was to get the best return. He said there was a responsibility to identify risks to that goal and being unable to keep the best people was one of these.

Mr Ross said the idea of seeking to top up on average pay of €90,000 was “mindboggling” in the current climate.

Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh and Mr Daly were before the committee to discuss a recently published progress report on the agency, covering the period 2010 to 2013, which was prepared by the Comptroller & Auditor General Seamus McCarthy.

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll is an Assistant News Editor with The Irish Times