Coveted role in ECB comes into focus for keen photographer Donnery
dent of the ECB. Parliamentarians in Berlin are also keen to have another woman replace Ms Nouy, such is the lack of senior female leaders in many EU institutions – including the ECB.
Ms Donnery is a familiar face at the ECB where, in addition to her NPL role, she serves as chair of its budget committee (Bucom), represents Ireland at the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) and also serves as alternate governor on the governing council of the ECB.
Ms Donnery, a keen and accomplished amateur photographer, prefers life behind the lens and as far away as possible from the glare of publicity.
But don’t be fooled: behind her quiet demeanour is a strong capability – and a steely resolve.
One of the reasons why Italy – whose bad loans are keeping many regulators
Sharon Donnery originally joined the Central
Bank in 1996 as an economist, and progressed through a series of senior roles awake at night – is resisting Ms Donnery’s appointment is a fear that she will go to hard on the region’s banks.
But that steady, stern hand could be welcomed by the wider governing council of the ECB, given the critical need to clean up bank balance sheets.
A central bankers’ central banker, Ms Donnery was appointed as deputy governor of the Central Bank in Ireland in March 2016.
She originally joined the Central Bank in 1996 as an economist, and progressed through a series of senior roles, including Director of Credit Institutions and Registrar of Credit Unions. The married mother of two has also served as vice-chair of the European Banking Authority’s standing committee on consumer protection and financial innovation.
At home, she avoided being caught up in the €1bn tracker mortgage scandal that has blighted the term of her boss Philip Lane, Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland. In fact, Ms Donnery has a strong record in consumer protection. At the height of the financial crisis, she raised concerns about consumers, asking the government in 2011 to allow the Central Bank to regulate vulture funds amid fears that unregulated funds buying mortgage books would treat borrowers unfairly.
The plea fell on deaf ears at the time, but the government was later forced into a U-turn. Credit services firms are now subject to the Central Bank’s code of conduct on mortgage arrears, but would consumers have enjoyed better protection had the government acted on Ms Donnery’s concerns when those concerns were first raised?
Ms Donnery, who has impressed in her role as chair of the SSM’s NPL group, is highly regarded in Dublin and Frankfurt. She is deemed a natural successor to Mr Lane – who himself is a frontrunner to succeed Peter Praet as the ECB’s chief economist when he steps down next June.
If Ms Donnery got the SSM chair role, it would not debar Mr Lane from becoming the ECB’s chief economist. But it’s hard to see Ireland securing two top roles.
If Ms Donnery is not appointed, the experience (the ECB tends not to disregard candidates that have come through the parliamentary process) means she has affirmed her top table status.
The gruelling process and the profile that has come with the race, puts her in good stead to succeed Mr Lane should he head to Frankfurt instead.
Even if she loses out, Ms Donnery emerges looking like a winner.