The EBS board is in disarray. The society is a mess. The boss is on the defensive.
The Society’s AGM is on 16 April. At least one board member is due to be shafted. Ethna Tinney, according to the notice of meeting, is standing again. Most unusually, she is standingwithout the support of Ted’s board.
Ethna was the winner of a competition for the board openly advertised a few years ago. A quasi-democratic process was held, supposedly to give the public a say in the society’s affairs. “Quasi-democratic”, because the final say is inevitably with the insiders on the board. The democratic experiment does not seem to have worked. It worked for Ethna and the members; but it does not seem to have worked for most of the directors. They want her out. Ethna gave poor Ted plenty of headaches.
Supporters of Ted McGovern are in a majority. An opponent is being shafted.
Strangely enough, the Dear John letter sent to Ethna telling her that her services were surplus to requirements came from none other than EBS board veteran Yvonne Scannell. Yvonne, a well-heeled Professor of Law at TCD, has been sitting on the board for 12 years, exactly double the time she allowed to Ethna! Indeed, if Yvonne’s 42 grand a year is translated into today’s purchasing power terms, her 12-year total exceeds half a million euro. Not bad for part-time work as a director of a caring bank with a social conscience.
So what about the owners – the members – the forgotten pawns who for decades have swallowed hook, line and sinker the caring mission message of the EBS? Members of the EBS might forgive all these boardroom shenanigans if the society any longer had anything to offer them. There are cheaper mortgages elsewhere. The EBS no longer offers many competitive savings products. Its costs are excessive. It preaches the doctrine of the high and mighty with its ridiculous ‘mutuality’ dividend which no one receives and few understand. Its propaganda has been rumbled by the other banks offering better returns. In the middle of the mess sit a few super-happy directors.
One of the motions on the agenda for April 16 is the increase in board salaries to €44,000 a year. The chairman’s salary will rise to €105,000. Troublesome Ethna’s will tank to zero. Members should consider the carry-on and turn up. Not only should they re-elect Ethna but they should also consider raising the dreaded D word. D is for demutualisation.
Demutualisation means money for members and departure for the directors. Yes, it is time.
The members have been receiving far too little return on their money. It is time that the last building society was sold to the highest bidder and sent its cosy, overpaid board packing.