Bank of Ireland picks HSBC executive as its new CEO

Bank of Ireland has appointed Francesca McDonagh, a 42-year-old senior banker at HSBC, as its new chief executive to replace Richie Boucher, who is stepping down later this year.

Ms McDonagh is head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC in the UK and Europe and has been with the global banking giant for 20 years, holding various positions in several countries.

She is expected to take up the chief executive role in October at Ireland’s second-largest bank measured by branches. Ms McDonagh will be the first woman to be chief executive of Bank of Ireland, and her appointment immediately makes her one of the country’s most high-profile female chief executives.

Ms McDonagh is British, and her paternal grandparents came from Dublin and Galway. She studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University.

She has worked as regional head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC in the Middle East and North Africa and oversaw the acquisition of Lloyds Bank in the United Arab Emirates. In 2009, she moved to Hong Kong to run HSBC’s personal financial services business.

Archie Kane, Bank of Ireland’s governor (chairman), described Ms McDonagh as an “exceptional candidate” selected by the board from a strong field of applicants.

“I am very pleased that we have been successful in attracting a person of the calibre and experience of Francesca to the group. She has been with HSBC for 20 years, during which time she has held a number of senior leadership roles in the bank across seven different countries. We very much look forward to working with her over the coming years as she leads the bank and its experienced management team into the next phase of its development.”

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She has been deputy chair of the British Bankers Association since 2015.

Mr Boucher has been chief executive for over eight years, joining the lender at the height of Ireland’s financial crisis. Bank of Ireland is the Irish bank least affected by Ireland’s financial crash because it had less exposure to property development than its rivals. The state retains a 14 per cent stake after a recapitalisation during the crisis.

“Richie has been an outstanding success at Bank of Ireland, and leaves the bank in a much stronger position than he inherited when he took up the role of CEO in February 2009,” Mr Kane said. “On behalf of the board, I would like to express our sincere appreciation.”