Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Bank's boss is a man in a million

Chief executive's package worth £1.16m as company returns to profit

By Nick Webb

Ulster Bank chief executive Jim Brown saw his overall pay package jump by 66% last year as the bank returned to profit for the first time since the financial crisis.

Mr Brown's remuneration, which included salary, pension and other benefits, touched €1.63m (£1.16m) up from €979,000 (£700,000) a year earlier.

He is now by far the highest-paid chief executive of a high street bank in Ireland, as Allied Irish Banks' outgoing chief executive David Duffy had his salary capped at €500,000 (£358,000) and Bank of Ireland's Richie Boucher earned €843,000 (£603,000) last year (after waiving a €118,000 (£85,000) portion of his wage.

Permanent TSB's chief executive Jeremy Masding is paid closer to €400,000 (£286,000).

This is well shy of some of the salaries paid to bankers in the Republic during the boom.

Former AIB head of Irish operations Donal Forde told the Banking Inquiry that his €1.4m (£1m) salary was "silly" and "inordinate".

The Ulster Bank chief and his executive team shared a total pay of €3.37m (£2.4m) last year an increase of 46% on 2013, when they received €2.3m (£1.65m).

"Performance-related bonuses are awarded on the basis of measuring annual performance against certain specified financial targets, which include both corporate performance objectives and key strategic objectives," according to the bank.

"The executive directors may also participate in the [Ulster Bank parent company] Royal Bank of Scotland executive share option and Sharesave schemes," banks added.

"The highest paid director did not exercise any share options during the year."

Ulster Bank posted all-Ireland operating profits of more than €752m) (£600m) in 2014 - spurred on by additional cash clawed back from loan impairments.

An improving economy also led to greater retail and corporate business.

But chief executive Jim Brown has told the Belfast Telegraph he could not rule out additional job losses at the company amid ongoing restructuring.

The turnaround in the bank's fortune coincided with an uplift in property assets, which the banks had written down sharply in the downturn. It was also boosted by the improvement in the general economy, which lifted demand for financial products.

Following a lengthy strategic review RBS has committed to keeping and growing Ulster Bank in the Republic despite earlier doubt over its future in Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph