Shareholders are gathering in UCD for the annual general meeting of Bank of Ireland today. It will be the first AGM for the bank's new CEO Francesca McDonagh.
She will be looking for shareholders approval for a proposal to pay out an ordinary dividend for the first time in ten years. The bank boss is looking at a very significant cost cutting programme within the bank, as well as the further roll-out of a large technology investment programme worth a total €800 million.
Owen Callan, Equity Analyst with Investec, said she is also looking at other things like changing the culture at the bank, changing the gender balance at management level, "and she's also looking at redundancy programmes potentially being implemented, particularly at the mid-management level over the next year".
As Ms McDonagh attempts to implement all these changes at Bank of Ireland, will she lose focus on the bank's priorities?
Mr Callan acknowledged that it is difficult when you're in charge of a large organisation like Bank of Ireland to implement four or five different strands of change at the same time, and focus on what is becoming a more competitive banking sector.
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
"There have been mortgage cuts over the last year, there has been more competition entering the market albeit from lower levels than we would have preferred to have seen. So the danger is, always, that something gets missed or something goes awry when you're implementing these changes," he said.
"What we've seen so far is that Francesca McDonagh is trying to grab the bull by the horns and implement significant changes in a relatively small space of time, and what she's done so far at least appears to be getting a positive reaction from staff in the bank."
When Ms McDonagh took up the role, she gave a personal commitment to deal with the tracker mortgage debacle as quickly and comprehensively as possible. Mr Callan said she had handled that with a degree of success.
"There was customer dissatisfaction with how the banking sector had dealt with that so far, and very quickly she decided that for the brand reputation for the long term value of the organisation, that that issue needed to be dealt with very quickly," Mr Callan said.
"She initiated a provision to pay out customers in a much quicker fashion, not to look at this as a legalistic issue but to look at this as a consumer issue, and the bank seems to have dealt with that in a relative quick fashion. It was quite a successful approach to her first big issue to deal with."
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday said he was going to review a cap on bankers pay and bonuses, but why should bankers be paid such large sums compared to other industries?
Mr Callan said banks need the flexibility to pay and remunerate staff in line with other industries because banking is competing with the technology sector.
"Banking is changing quite a lot. It's not the old school, going into the bank with your cash to the teller. It's very much becoming a digital led business in line with fintech. It's competing with the likes of Google, with the likes of Facebook and technology companies like that, as well as the large accountancy firms and legal professions for staff," he explained.
"Bank are becoming more consumer led in what they are trying to offer, and much more technology led, and technology companies can pay out very large salaries as well as share remuneration schemes. Banks just need the flexibility to compete for those staff, otherwise they won't have the good staff that we need them to have."