DUBLIN: Bank of Ireland’s incoming chief executive, Francesca McDonagh, is understood to have met with the lender’s senior executives in the past few weeks as she prepares to take over the reins from long-serving CEO, Richie Boucher. The revelations about the informal talks come as the impending regime change at the bank fuels speculation of an overhaul within the group’s upper ranks.The Irish Independent understands that Ms McDonagh, the former head of HSBC’s retail banking and wealth management business in the UK and Europe, summoned the top executives to one-on-one briefings. In a statement, a spokesperson for Bank of Ireland said that Ms McDonagh met with “Mr Boucher and other relevant senior executives to receive briefings on the bank and its key businesses” and described the discussions as “part of the normal succession planning process”.
Bank of Ireland emerged from the financial crisis in better health than its rivals, managing to escape full State ownership after private investors rode to its rescue. Unlike its harder-hit peers, AIB and Permanent TSB, there have been relatively few shake-ups to its senior ranks. News of her meetings with senior executives follow the resignation earlier this month of Mick Sweeney, who led the bank’s wealth management business for a time and most recently acted as interim managing director at the group’s insurance subsidiary, New Ireland Assurance. Ms McDonagh formally succeeds Mr Boucher on October 2 and is expected to set out her strategy for the lender in early 2018. As this newspaper revealed earlier this year, the outgoing CEO is weighing a new role with Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa, the investment guru who reaped a hefty profit after snapping up a stake in the lender at the height of the banking crisis. The equity injection prevented a full-scale nationalisation.