Central Bank’s Mary O’Dea quits for banking institute

O’Dea to succeed Feeney as chief executive of Institute of Banking

Mary O'Dea, who stepped in as acting head of the financial regulator during the crisis, has quit the Central Bank months after returning to the organisation following stints with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Ms O’Dea will become chief executive of the Institute of Banking at a time when the culture of Irish banks is in focus amid an industry-wide tracker mortgage scandal. She will succeed Michael Feeney, who plans to step down from the organisation early next year.

The Central Bank and the Institute of Banking each confirmed the moves in response to questions from The Irish Times on Wednesday.

"The institute's council conducted a thorough search and, from a strong field, selected this excellent candidate," said Bernard Byrne, president of the Institute of Banking, and chief executive of AIB.


Ms O'Dea, who joined the Central Bank three decades ago, stepped in as acting chief executive of the financial regulator in January 2009 following the retirement of Patrick Neary. She went on to become Ireland's representative at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington in July 2011, when the State was in the middle of an international bailout involving the fund.

The career central banker went on, in 2014, to become Ireland’s representative at the World Bank, where she was a senior adviser focusing on Europe and Central Asia development issues, before returning to Ireland and taking up the newly-created role of director of securities and markets supervision three months ago.

Central Bank governor Philip Lane decided to split the group's markets supervision division into two units last year, after the previous incumbent in charge of the unit, Gareth Murphy, resigned from the bank to join Standard Life in Britain.

Ms O’Dea was put in charge of one of the sub-units, the securities and markets directorate, while Michael Hodson, a former stockbroking executive, was given responsibility for the other, asset management supervision.

In an internal email circulated in the Central Bank this week, Prof Lane said Ms O’Dea “has always had a driving passion to raise standards in the financial services industry and I’m sure she will bring this to her new role”.

The institute is a leading education provider to the banking and financial services sectors, with 10,500 people studying with it last year. The not-for-profit organisation has more than 34,000 members.

Her appointment to the institute comes as the culture of the State’s banking sector has been criticised by politicians and regulators as banks have been forced in recent months to recognise more customers who were either denied their right to a European Central Bank tracker mortgage or put on the wrong interest rate.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe ordered the Central Bank in October to start preparing a report on the culture and behaviours and associated risks in retail banks. This is expected to be completed by mid-2018.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times