Incoming Davy CEO to sit above New Ireland head

Appointment likely to come from wider Bank of Ireland group or further afield rather than from internal Davy candidates

Bank of Ireland plans to appoint the next chief executive of Davy to its top executive committee and have the head of its life assurance business, New Ireland, report to them under a structure that will make the firm central to its wealth business, according to sources.

While it is understood a number of internal Davy candidates – said to include head of wealth management Pat Cooney, chief executive of capital markets Damian Roddy and chief risk and regulatory officer Caitriona O’Kelly – put their names forward for the CEO role, sources say a figure from elsewhere in the Bank of Ireland group or an external candidate is most likely.

Bernard Byrne, who 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, said in November that he plans to leave the firm this year. He joined Davy as head of its capital markets division in May having previously served as chief executive of AIB.

Bank of Ireland is said to be keen to appoint a successor with wealth management experience given its outsize contribution to earnings within Davy. The capital markets unit has been under pressure in recent times amid a number of large corporate exits from the Irish market and slump in deals activity.


Spokesmen for Bank of Ireland and Davy declined to comment on the recruitment process or planned reporting structure.

Bank of Ireland CEO Myles O’Grady highlighted to shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting last Thursday that its wealth and insurance assets, including Davy and New Ireland, increased by 18 per cent to €46 billion last year and that he sees “scope for further growth in the years ahead supported by Ireland’s favourable demographics”.

The plan to install a figure that directly overseas wealth and insurance on the group executive committee underscores the growing importance of the business and Davy’s role within it, sources said.

Davy’s key wealth unit’s assets under management stood at about €16 billion by the time it was put up for sale. It had increased to close to €22 billion by the end of last year, including about €2 billion transferred from Bank of Ireland in early 2023 as about 2,000 high net worth clients moved across.

New Ireland has been led by interim managing director Richard Jones since the previous incumbent, Michael Murphy, quit late last year after seven years at the helm. The life and pensions business was originally earmarked for sale under an EU state-aid restructuring plan tied to Bank of Ireland’s crisis-era bailout, but the bank was ultimately allowed by Brussels in 2013 to hold on to the business.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times