Cov­eted role in ECB comes into fo­cus for keen pho­tog­ra­pher Don­nery

Irish Independent - Business Week - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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