Explaining Banking to Bank Directors

The Federal Reserve has announced a new initiative: A website to explain banking to new bank directors. No, really, they have. From the press release:

“Many people who are asked to serve on bank boards have little training or experience to prepare them for their new roles,” said Patrick M. Parkinson, director of the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation. “This website has been developed with new directors in mind, but there is plenty of useful information for those who have already spent time on bank boards.”

In relation to the Irish banks, one can certainly argue that bank directors with little experience of banking, finance or economics played a role in their downfall. It will be interesting to see if this is an issue touched upon by Mr. Regling in his report to the banking enquiry.

This raises a more general question: Why are bank boards so commonly made up of people with little relevant experience? Is this an issue that needs to be addressed by regulators in the future? Or is it too much to expect bank directors to have technical expertise and these issues are best left to management, with boards simply overseeing corporate governance issues?

47 thoughts on “Explaining Banking to Bank Directors”

  1. Interesting that one of Mr Elderfield’s first initiatives is a requirement for fitness and probity interviews for non-execs.

  2. Having 25% of a banks non-exec’s as non bankers might make some sort of broad sense, especially in light of so many “banks” becoming financial supermarkets interacting with all elements of the economy, but it seems like the trend in recent years was to have boards of non-execs who were almost completely sourced from outside the banking industry.

  3. Karl
    Surely it is the incest that is the problem rather than the virginity???
    WE had a lot of people on multiple boards.
    Al

  4. Just took a look at BNP Paribas’s board, and its make-up/background etc. Given how well they seem to have gotten through the financial crisis, i think it’s fair to call them a “good” example of how to run a bank.

    The board in place per their 2008 annual report

    1 x political scientist
    1 x marketing executive
    1 x re-insurance
    1 x general insurance
    1 x IT/network systems
    1 x industrial gases
    1 x accounting standards (regulator?)
    1 x real estate
    1 x glass/ceramics production
    1 x private equity
    1 x law firm
    1 x car manufacturer

    1 x employee representative
    2 x bankers

    As such, its debateable how much affect having a board of non-bankers actually has on the running of a bank.

  5. Sorry, the conclusion i meant to put in was that it is ultimately the executive committee rather than the board of directors that make all the decisions.

  6. @ Brian

    And from there, it’s only a small step to a line that might resonate with some of our more notorious banking execs: Sure the money was just resting in my account.

  7. Karl

    Having people from outside ones industry on your board is standard practice. Most corporate governance codes and regulations call for “independent” outside directors. In the US this is legislated in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, in Ireland its in the form of a code of practice.

    Independent directors means people who do not have a business connection to the firm, or a personal connection to the management. In a small country like Ireland it would be difficult, say, to find someone in banking who does not do business with AIB. Of course you could have just foreigners on the board. But, then they know little or nothing about local business conditions.

    You could add to the list a “lack of banking experience” a lack of knowledge of accounting. The independent outside directors have to run the audit committee that oversees financial reporting. But, many of them know little or nothing about complex accounting issues.

    Of course, the key weakness in this stress on “independent” directors that we have in governance regulations and codes of practice is that the independent (from management) can be in appearance only.

  8. @All

    Re Corporate Governance and Board Structures and Make-ups etc

    No one has a clue as to the most appropriate structure of boards … it remains one of the great unanswered questions in social science research ……… nor can any of the various codes [Combined, SOX, or otherwise] claim any great validity – they are heuristics based on the experiences of significant and influential corporate leaders ……….. there is no universal equation available here …………… nor do I think one can be found ………..

    Back to context in time and place – Eoin’s outline of BNP Paribas is a good example ……… as for weaknesses in Irish situation ……. look to incestuous nature of UpperEchelon Irish boards – and view the example of DCC board reaction to Judgement of Irish Supreme Court [certainly not error of judgment of the court in this case] ….. and the er – banks ….. so we sort out our own houses …………… if we have the where-with-all and the balls to do so – the former is available, not so sure about the latter.

  9. ‘Tedisms’ aside, it’s perhaps not a bad idea to have sufficiently ‘skilled’ board members in each of the banking intuitions; however, we may still be addressing only a symptom and not the core issue. Technically and professionally competent board members will either be ‘sucked’ into the prevailing culture of the banking institutions or leave out of sheer frustration that they are ‘impotent’ in terms of any real direction or control. As an aside, could we ask the same question of those people who are running our Country – Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  10. People get confused about the role of the external auditors… they just carry out regulatory audits… not very useful as prudential business audits.

    I’d suggest the independent directors should hire business auditors, who’d examine the bank’s business model, and also test its operating model. The people testing the business model could be say economic consultants, those testing the operating model: management / technology consultants.

    That way the independent directors would actually have useful information and expertise in order to fulfill their mission to the shareholders.

  11. Certainly bank directors should not be ignorant of banking. But neither need they be “experts”. The essential qualities of a company director (whether the company be a bank or some other kind of enterprise) are moral authority, independence of mind, an understanding of the principles of management and good commercial judgment.

    The director of (for example) an airline needs these qualities–but nobody expects him or her to be expert on aeronautics, or airline economics, or flight scheduling. So with banking.

  12. As applies in Spanish banks, non-execs should also be on risk management committees.

    It would ensure that they would not risk being disqualified as a director by nodding through back-of-the envelope transactions.

    On bank boards, the chairman had a key role as the contact with the chief executive.

    Of course in Anglo, an individual who ran the show for so long, effectively was still the main executive.

    The chairmen of the 2 main banks do not appear to have had strong leadership roles — three of 4 of them had chartered accountancy backgrounds – – and a lot more would have been expected in the area of control.

    The rest of the boards appear likely to never have raised pertinent risk questions.

    Why would part-timers rock the boat when going with the flow usually works?

    I don’t believe that experience in itself was an issue.

    It would be interesting for Regling to talk to ex-BoI director David Dilger, who had a good record running Greencore, as to what role a non-exec had on the board and AIB director Glen Dimplex’s Sean O’Driscoll .

    It’s interesting how a breach of a written rule for staff led to a swift firing but reckless risk is a more difficult issues to assess.

  13. @Michael Hennigan
    I completely disagree with this article when it states that the country is bankrupt and I also disagree with it when it says that tax rises should predominate overwhelmingly over expenditure cuts. I would say at least equal amounts of both from now on until we are out of the crisis and can decide what the country’s tax system and spending should look like long-term. I believe that Dan O’Brien referred to research to this effect when dealing with fiscal consolidations, with the correct emphasis being on reducing spending. Otherwise, for Feb 09, it is remarkably prescient about our banks and the government’s disastrous policy of “investing” in them.

    http://www.progressive-economy.ie/2009/02/ireland-is-bankrupt-now-lets-get-over.html

  14. @ Jon Ihle,

    Good article last Sunday on the rights issue by Irish banks.

    http://www.tribune.ie/business/article/2010/jan/31/no-banking-on-rights-issues/

    Overall, the article gave a good balanced view of the situation at this point in time. For those of you who haven’t read the article, it is a worthwhile study, and reveals the very unsavory situation that Ireland finds itself in.

    And I don’t think Jon, in fairness, was even setting out to paint the picture too black or anything. Except that when you lay out the fact, it suddenly gives one a bucket of cold water over the head. Heck, we do need to sort ourselves out.

    I have found myself, that in this ping-pong, day-to-day, Morning Ireland, News at One, Prime Time kind of media driven s**** we have to put up with in this country – we seldom settle down enough, to actually try to define the problem it is we are trying to solve.

    I do appreciate the efforts of some Irish journalists in recent times, to present an alternative report on progress, to the above mentioned RTE news room type of effort.

    Cliff Taylor’s article on the Greek debt was a nice analysis of the situation pertaining to the EU region, for any of you with a copy of the Sunday Business Post lying around.

  15. I don’t know about all of you guys, but I read the Sunday Business Post’s article about the Moriarty Tribunal ready to be published, on the way home this evening. Heck, as a young man in my twenties and early thirties for much of the Celtic Tiger, I never bothered to follow any of these tribunals and politics.

    But reading the article in the Sunday Business Post I am seeing names like Dermot Gleeson, Atorney General, Michael Lowry + Denis O’Brien with the same solicitor buying ‘land’ in Great Britain, and cute old Dermot Desmond floating around somewhere in the middle of all of that.

    Bearing in mind this is ‘old school’ stuff. But it is not difficult to see where Ireland could go seriously wrong in its Celtic Tiger and subsequent building boom years, when Ireland as a country, really failed to set sufficient standards for itself ten or twenty years ago.

    Niamh Brennan has an interview piece published in the Spring/Summer 2010 edition of UCD’s business connections magazine.

    http://www.ucd.ie/businessalumni/biz-connect.htm

    The edition isn’t on their website as yet. But the subject of the interview with Niamh Brennan was about corporate governance. She admitted she was on the board of Ulster bank all through the period, prior to the crisis finale. She believes, people were slow to act following the Northern Rock news in September 2007. At the time, Ms. Brennan mentions, she didn’t look into it carefully enough.

    It wasn’t until March ’08, when Bears Stearns went belly up too, that everyone began to see the pattern emerging. But by then it was getting too late to act according to Ms. Brennan. This would seem to tie in, with what Eugene Sheehy has being saying also. The trouble had really started in Ireland in 2007.

    I have to say, I do agree with this overall conclusion. From a small and medium enterprise point of view, I knew people were less than pro-active at the time. A lot of key people in business flew blind, stayed in denial and hoped the dark clouds would pass on overhead without pouring down upon everyone.

  16. @ Peter Kelly,

    “Certainly bank directors should not be ignorant of banking. But neither need they be “experts”. The essential qualities of a company director (whether the company be a bank or some other kind of enterprise) are moral authority, independence of mind, an understanding of the principles of management and good commercial judgment.

    The director of (for example) an airline needs these qualities–but nobody expects him or her to be expert on aeronautics, or airline economics, or flight scheduling. So with banking.”

    That is why I referred to the example of the Moriarty Tribunal above. I cannot believe the names that are falling out of that particular closet. That is for stuff that happened well over a decade ago. I mean, if one was to look at stuff, that happened in less than a decade ago, the exact same body of individuals would have another list of dodgy dealings to their credit.

    I find it really funny, that the Moriarty Tribunal’s results are coming out at the moment. We all know that tribunals take too long, and perhaps by the time the tribunal presents its findings, they may not even be relevant anymore. But in this case, it is funny, some of the characters involved are in for a double whammy. Both for the recent events, and the ‘old school’ events which happened 2 no. decades ago. It is quite surreal when you think about it.

    The only message it sends out is: Anyone who has achieved any profile in Ireland in the last quarter of a century has had to bend the rules, to suit themselves, like be-damned.

  17. “But the subject of the interview with Niamh Brennan was about corporate governance. She admitted she was on the board of Ulster bank all through the period, prior to the crisis finale.”

    After all, nobody is going to question Ms. Brennan’s integrity or her capability and considered depth of knowledge. I am positive that her contribution in Irish business life is valuable. But all one has to do, is join a couple of dots. A board membership of a lending institution which propped up such characters as Sean Dunne to go crazy on land speculation. A spouse in government, in coalition partnership with Bertie Ahern.

    Shane Ross’s book The Bankers has one very section, where Sean Dunne and wife turn up to the special ceremony for the Northern Ireland peace process, held by the UK government. It was a big ticket-only affair. Not even Albert Reynolds received a ticket to the occasion hosted by John Major, and who strolls into with misus, only Sean Dunne. I mean, Ms. Brennan can agonise all she wants about decisions that might have been blocked/taken or otherwise altered, while on the board of Ulster Bank.

    But look where she was stuck – smack bang in the middle of a bank-politician-builder circle, which Shane Ross describes in the book. This is why I love that PBS documentary on Wyatt Earp. He found himself at Tombstone, at a time when the entire continent was about to go to blazes, with poor old Earp, the innocent pawn stuck in the middle.

    Like I say, the Wyatt Earp’s story and that of the Irish business person share many, many parallels.

    http://video.pbs.org/video/1390089466/

  18. @Brian O’Hanlon
    I am afraid the inability to discuss governance extends throughout Irish society. It’s worse than you think. There is an elephant in the living room of irisheconomy.ie that the lead contributors refuse to talk about. It’s the governance of a particular institution. They can’t even bring themselves to admit they are willfully refusing to talk about it. Portraying the offending four letter acronym using asterisks is forbidden. Even saying that you have been censored when your post is removed because you portrayed it in asterisks is forbidden. It’s a Kafkaesque situation.

    What is this institution whose governance they refuse to talk about?
    I’m saying nothing – not even in asterisks. All I will do is sum up the moderating policy: Every Statement Requires Interception.

  19. “It wasn’t until March ‘08, when Bears Stearns went belly up too, that everyone began to see the pattern emerging. But by then it was getting too late to act according to Ms. Brennan. This would seem to tie in, with what Eugene Sheehy has being saying also. The trouble had really started in Ireland in 2007.”

    Just to finish up on this point. I will add this link to Eamonn Walsh’s Sunday Business Post opinion piece on the banking inquiry too.

    http://www.thepost.ie/story/text/eyqlaucwmh/

    I liked this quote in particular:

    “In mid-September 2008, following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, short-selling of bank shares was outlawed and deposit guarantees were extended.

    Nevertheless, there is some evidence that the banking sector was receiving additional attention prior to the Lehman collapse.

    On which dates did a serious engagement with the banking sector commence? Can one conclude that Lehman precipitated the problem? Would it be more appropriate to conclude that Lehman offered a convenient scapegoat?”

    It suggests quite plainly, how easy it is to sell a lie to the Irish nation. As if, this group of banking chief executives, just happened to bang on the door of DoF, at a specific date in late Sept ’08, and yelled:

    “Let us in!”

    As if.

    Everyone seems to accept this night of the 2x of September as fact. This major crisis, and oh, how we averted disaster etc.

    As I said, it most likely made sense to people in 2008, to allow the Irish banking inquiry to break itself on the rocks. That was probably the whole plan. I know that Michael Casey, a former chief economist at the Central Bank, looked at this sequence of events in his Irish Times column quite recently too.

  20. @ Oliver Vant aka E65bn

    you’re not exactly the Scarlet Pimpernel there….for someone who bitches and moans so much about this site, you sure as hell post a lot on here….

  21. Sorry, I can’t resist one last conspiracy theory attempt.

    I will return to my use of the medical analogy for this purpose. I spent a bit of time, ten years ago, as a young man, working for a relative who sells medical equipment for a Swiss based manufacturer. It was so interesting to me, because I love all things to do with technology and gadgets. In my younger days, I would have been an avid reader of the Sunday Business Post’s pages at the rear, about iPods, web design and new computers. I used to read the brochures of the Swiss manufactured medical equipment.

    My relation, a wise old man, who spent his life working in hospitals of one sort or another, and got into this equipment salesman stuff, only in his retirement years, showed me one particular brochure. It has some noteable looking full 32-bit software at the time, which enabled it to identify trace elements in a sample, in a new way. In the past, my relation explained, the athletes who wanted to avoid drug detection, would take steroids. Those steroids had been carefully designed in order to mimic the profile of other ‘normal’ elements in the human body, when tested using the earlier versions of this device. So in other words, you put in the athlete’s blood sample and up on your computer monitor popped this graph of what the sample contained.

    The unique innovation of this latest model was the ability to look at the graph in three dimensions. You could turn around the graph, and suddenly, there appeared this other profile, the one which had always hidden behind the ‘normal’ profile in the old days. So when this equipment became available to the Olympic testing staff, a whole raft of athletes were caught out in one go. I forget which Olympics it happened in. But it boiled down to the fact that athletes could not longer get away with taking steroids, designed to hide one chemical constituent profile behind another.

    I mean, the more I listen to people like Niamh Brennan of UCD and board ex. member of Ulster bank, Eugene Sheehy ex. chief executive of AIB bank and Eamonn Nolan of the Michael Smurfit business school. The more I listen to these people, the more I begin to think, heh, wait a minute – the Irish banking crisis was a bit like that thing, my old relation explained to me about the Olympic athletes. It was a really cunning plan, in which they hid one crisis behind another.

    Now, my question is, is the European Central Bank going to provide Mr. Klaus Regling with one of those fancy gadgets, than can separate out the Irish banking crisis from the global one?

    BOH.

  22. Not my words, but those of Eamonn Walsh of Smurfit school of business, writing in the Sunday Business Post newspaper:

    “On which dates did a serious engagement with the banking sector commence? Can one conclude that Lehman precipitated the problem? Would it be more appropriate to conclude that Lehman offered a convenient scapegoat?”

    Lehmans was a crucial necessity, in order that the DoF in Ireland could activate their own plan, the banking guarantee scheme. Not the other way around.

    Now whether, the ECB had forced the DoF in Ireland, on purpose to save Anglo Irish bank or not, that is something that Mr. Klaus Regling needs to ascertain promptly.

    But then Mr. Regling would be tasked with finding things against the ECB. Kind of like Mr. Justice Michael Moriarty is tasked now with finding things against the Irish state.

    “The tribunal, which is empowered by the Oireachtas, could face the prospect of delivering a report to the Oireachtas which is ultimately challenged and criticised by the state, the state’s chief legal adviser and two government departments.”

    http://www.thepost.ie/story/text/eyqlauqlsn/

    End of conspiracy theory-ising.

    BOH.

  23. Here is where Karl Whelan linked to Michael Casey’s Irish Times article.

    http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2010/01/21/caseys-questions-for-the-banking-inquiry/

    What is bad enough, as suggest by Michael Casey in the article, that Ireland does not prevent crisis’s, it rather, walks into them. But what really makes me sick about Ireland at the moment, is not alone did we walk right into the crisis before considering preventative measures. Having done so, we in turn went through an charade of political spin-ing, where we attempted to conceal the Irish banking crisis behind the global one. In the hope, like the Olympic athlete of old, that no one would notice that we were on steroids.

    Thanks, Eugene Sheehy, for that expression, on steroids.

    Over and out.

    BOH.

  24. While the corporate governance code recommends that the CEO should not become the Chairman, I think that the experience of Standard Chartered and HSBC is interesting.

    From the FT:

    ‘Standard Chartered needs Peace
    By Andrew Hill
    Published: July 2 2009 21:41 | Last updated: July 2 2009 21:41
    They searched far. They searched wide. They considered more than 50 candidates. But in the end, Standard Chartered’s directors chose as chairman a man with no direct commercial banking experience.

    The demand for untainted banking talent is intense – just look at the running competition for the services of Citigroup’s Sir Win Bischoff as a chairman. John Peace – who spent most of his career at GUS, the retail and credit services group, then at spin-offs Burberry and Experian – will have able support from experienced Standard Chartered directors. He has served on the board’s audit and risk committee. But he still has a lot to prove.

    Last time Standard Chartered appointed a chairman in 2006, the headhunt ended at the chief executive’s office and Mervyn (now Lord) Davies was elevated to the chair. The governance police sounded the alarm. But that decision and HSBC’s promotion of Stephen Green from chief executive to executive chairman on similar grounds have been vindicated. The two companies were the only big UK-based banking groups to come through the credit crunch largely intact.

    Mr Peace is a high-calibre chairman and director. But it is telling that he was also tipped to head a very different and much simpler company: retailer J Sainsbury – whose former chairman Sir Philip Hampton now has the same role at Royal Bank of Scotland.

    In 2006, Standard Chartered made the case for the internal appointment of Lord Davies on the basis that “there were significant benefits … in continuity”, saying it had taken into account “the complexity of the international banking environment  . . . the magnitude of the group and the diversity of its businesses and people”. Since then, has the international banking environment become simpler, the group narrower, or its businesses and people less diverse? Patently not. Would the board have chosen a commercial banker such as Lord Davies over Mr Peace if such a candidate had been available? Obviously. Banks such as Standard Chartered, HSBC and RBS are vast and complicated businesses. Their importance to the global financial system has just been brutally demonstrated. Standard Chartered got Peace. Let’s hope he brings understanding.”

  25. “Explaining Banking to Bank Directors”

    :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    By the Federal Reserve Bank?

    😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

    Oh sorry, you mean THE Federal Reserve Bank.

    😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈

    Who’s printing dollars today?

    How much counterfeit can a country take before it is bankrupt?

    If you print currency out of thin air you are a counterfeiter.

    If the Federald Reserev does it …… they are “Helping the Economy”.

    If the European Central Bank prints money to “Help Greece” they are “Helping the Ecoconomy”.

    OK

    Print €100,000,000,00 for Ireland.

    Print the money or shut up.

  26. Let’s all print money at ZERO %.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2010/0203/1224263660295.html

    😯 😯 😯 😯

    Who authorised the “Public Interest Director” of this State owned bank to use his vote on the Board of this State owned Bank to provide a property developer with money at ZERO interest.

    Only one person could have authorised that.

    Brian Lenihan.

    Did Brian Lenihan just find himself a printing press?

    If he did, can he print money at ZERO % interest for everybody in this little island?

    Or is it just for the favoured in Anglo Irish Bank?

    Will there be any freedom of information?

    Will there be any information at all?

  27. Something, which must be at least as interesting as the competence, experience and training of those appointed to bank boards, is the question of the competence, experience and training of those appointed to head the Central Bank.

    A fanciful notion, which appears to prevail among our permanent government nomenklatura, is that having been a senior civil servant equips one to take on any task. The appointment of Patrick Honohan to head the Central Bank is a welcome break from this thinking but how long will it be before the inexorable tide of bureaucratic self-aggrandizement eventually reasserts itself?

  28. @Greg

    I had almost forgotten about the property ‘investments’ that won’t be going to NAMA. I thought this line in the report sums it all up really:

    ‘Anglo Irish and AIB are keen to avoid selling the properties on the market because they are not financially strong enough to absorb the losses they would incur’

    Er, so they shouldn’t really be in business then? I wonder how big those losses might be (not just on this portion but the rest of it)?

  29. Karl,

    Will you post separate threads on the proposed 0% loan by Anglo to a property developer, mentioned by Greg above, sourced from the IT today?

    Also, will you post a thread on Brian Lucey’s interesting piece on mortgage payment holidays in the Opinion section of same?

    I think these issues both deserve fresh discussion on this site

    Graham

  30. Can we have a “best quote” from the website competition. My one is:

    “While a director’s job is important and carries responsibility, it may not be as daunting as it first appears…It is likely you already possess many of the attributes of an effective director….The only thing that may be missing is a basic knowledge of banking and what to consider in overseeing a bank. The discussion that follows focuses on the basics of being a director.”

    Ahhh Bless! their so cute

  31. Looks to me like the ancien regime has had enough and is leaving the field. Oh dear….. maybe things are not as good as they have been telling us???

    I look forward to many “drive bys” as those banks implode! The old money did not need to be told what they owned/ controlled, by crowding out others who are now free to get all the glory! Watch for a similar exodus from Insurance, etc, also. Interesting times eh?

    Cormac Lucey
    Public servants need to know nothing … err I mean, at the right moment they become economical with the truth and also forgetful too. They keep an eye on things, take it out of their pocket they do and put it on the desk ….. They represent someone. Who? I don’t know. They sure as f%^# don’t represent me. They wield power for someone who cannot be seen to be involved and they are there to take the rap from people like you and me! A fun job, huh? You call them public servants but they actually serve anyone but the public. Just ask Charlie Haughey. Or someone else who is still alive……

    Greg
    Banks create money, far more than the govt printing press! Except when in a deflation!!!!

  32. Pat,

    “Banks create money”

    Only with a nod and a wink from Government. Which is about the extent of “regulation” we’ve had.

    “Watch for a similar exodus from Insurance, etc, also. Interesting times eh?”

    From the IT

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2010/0203/1224263660295.html

    “The bank’s interest in the nine properties is now held by its pensions and investments subsidiary, Anglo Irish Assurance Company (AIAC).

    Anglo now plans to advance Green an interest-free mezzanine (short-term) loan to buy the equity stakes from AIAC. The bank refused to comment on what security, if any, Green had to put up.”

    Excuse me !!!!!!!!!!

    Anglo Irish Bank is “lending” €1,000,000,000 to a property developer so that property developer can “buy out” the equity stake of Anglo Irish Assurance Company.

    What !!!!!!!

    As of September 2008 Anglo Irish Assurance had a balance sheet with gross assets of €3bn and liabililities to “banks” (I wonder which “banks”) of €1.7Bn.

    ‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice.

  33. @Greg

    Lets see how far down this rabbit-hole goes ………..? Remind me again – who are the ‘public interest’ directors on the board at the mo?

  34. I think Alan Dukes?

    I have previously suggested that Company Law makes no provision for a “Public Interest” Director.

    A director has responsibilities to the shareholders only.

    Nothing has changed my mind since.

  35. I tried to compile together some thoughts of mine with some relevant links etc based loosely around this question of corporate governance at my blog today.

    http://designcomment.blogspot.com/2010/02/on-corporate-governance.html

    The point I tried to get across, is that figures who are attempting to provide good corporate governance, are hampered by the small population, and close relationship of everyone on the island.

    Which seems to encourage the argument for inviting outside directors into Ireland more often, not withstanding the fact, they may be un-familiar with the ‘Irish situation’.

    I would say, that is decidely the lesser of two evils at present.

    The various attempts by prof. Niamh Brennan down through the years to become involved at the corporate governance level, is a quite tragic example of the problems faced by a home-based would-be board member.

    She is not alone, I have no doubt, in those problems faced, given the small-ness of Ireland as a nation.

    Maybe people such as Niamh Brennan would be far better off, getting involved in more boards in the UK or mainland Europe, rather than spending so much time on Ireland based organisations, such as the DDDA.

    Heck, I don’t even air if it means clocking up more air miles. The notion of knowledge interchange between countries and corporate boards is much more healthy, and staying within one’s own pond to too great an extent.

    BOH.

  36. BTW, lets have a round of applause while we are at it. From my blog entry today:

    “Credit must go to UCD economist Karl Whelan who has been like a ‘breath of fresh air’ injected into the public debate here in Ireland, over the course of 2008/09/10.”

    C’mon, put those hands together.

    BOH.

  37. Also from my blog entry, and a point that also relates to corporate governance of Irish banks – both foreign and natively registered.

    “I wonder if the banking inquiry in Ireland will make the mistake of only focusing on the banks covered by the Asset recovery scheme, or will widen its scope appropriately to the actions of Ulster bank, Bank of Scotland Ireland and ACC bank.”

  38. @Greg

    Ah Yes – Alan Dukes.

    Just checked out Anglo-Irish site …… appears that Frank Daly resigned just before XMAS – but he is still listed as head of the Audit Committee – does this mean that the Audit Commitee in Anglo is now head-less? As a citizen shareholder methinks I’m entitled to know.

  39. @Greg

    Frank Daly has moved from Anglo-Irish to chair NAMA.

    Which leaves Maurice Keane, who joined the Board on 21 January 2009, a former Group Chief Executive and a former member of the Court of Directors of Bank of Ireland. He is a director of DCC plc and Axis Capital Holdings Limited and is also a member of the National Pension Reserve Fund Commission. He is a former chairman of BUPA Ireland Limited and Bristol & West plc.

    So Maurice is linked to BOI, and was he on the DCC board that gave the proverbial Harvey Smith to the Irish Supreme Court in 2007? – and on the National Pension Reserve Fund committee as well – [prob no truth in that rumour that it will be raided to the tune of €15 billion or so to er .. recapitalise de banks] ………

    In the old days in Belfast – among the upper echelons of course – this used to be called “pass-de-parcel”. Is there really such a shortage of talent at the moment around here? The concept of ‘conflict of interest’, no pun intended, appears to have dropped into the ‘black hole’.

    Methinks Alan – you might find yourself a ‘good bank’ – a position for which I thought you admirably suited about 16 months ago.

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