Demographics of applications for regulatory approval for senior financial roles released

07 March 2018 Press Release


  • Report breaks down applications for regulatory approval by age, gender and country of origin.
  • The Central Bank remains concerned by the continued evidence of a lack of diversity at senior level in regulated firms.
  • Some small improvements in banking, asset management and credit union sectors, but overall percentage of applications for regulatory approval for female appointments to senior level roles is unchanged from 2016, at 22%.

Read the full report

Today, the Central Bank of Ireland publishes an analysis of over 3,600 applications received in 2017 for approval to occupy senior roles within regulated firms in Ireland (under the Fitness and Probity regime).  

The report breaks down the applications for regulatory approval by gender, age and country of origin.  This is the second time that the Central Bank has published such data, having published in 2017 a  breakdown by gender of applications received in the period 2012 to 2016.

In the banking, credit union and asset management sectors there have been increases of between 5 and 6% in the proportion of women being offered senior level roles in 2017. A dis-improvement in the securities and markets sector, which has the largest number of overall applications, means there is no change from 2016 in the headline figure of 22% of senior roles being filled by women.

The data continues to show a pronounced gender imbalance at board level and in revenue generating roles. At the board level, there were small increases in the number of female applicants for the most senior roles compared with previous years, but imbalances remain a cause for serious concern.  In 2017, 18% of applicants for executive director roles were female, compared with 15% in 2016.  For chair of the board roles, 14% of applicants were female (12% in 2016) and for chief executive roles, 16% of applicants were female (12% in 2016).

The Central Bank has committed to publishing this report on an annual basis as part of its continued focus on the importance of diversity in regulated firms.

Ed Sibley, Deputy Governor, Prudential Regulation said:

“I welcome that there were increases in gender diversity in the applications for senior roles in some financial services sectors in 2017. However, this was from very low levels and major imbalances remain.  Much more needs to be done.

There is strong evidence that diversity, in all its forms, can mitigate the risk of groupthink, improve decision-making, increase the effectiveness of internal challenge and enhance the culture within firms. In my own experience, a lack of diversity at senior management and board level in organisations is a leading indicator of elevated behaviour and culture risks, and consequently prudential and conduct risks.

Therefore, it is disappointing to see that there has not been an improvement in the overall proportion of women filling the most senior roles in financial firms in Ireland over the past year. The Central Bank will, therefore, continue to prioritise driving meaningful change in the levels of diversity at senior levels in regulated financial services firms.”


  • “Application” or “applicant” refers to applications to the Central Bank for approval of individuals who have been offered senior level roles by firms. It is not a reference to the number of applications financial firms received for roles.  Applications are made when the individual has already been offered a role, contingent on approval from the Central Bank.
  • Deputy Governor Ed Sibley most recently spoke about the importance of diversity and explained what steps the Central Bank is taking to increase the focus on diversity in firms in a speech to the Fusion Network on 13 February 2018. Governor Lane also spoke recently on this topic at the European Financial Forum on 31 January 2018.
  • The Central Bank of Ireland Fitness and Probity Standards provide that individuals performing particular roles to, inter alia, be: competent and capable; honest, ethical and to act with integrity; and financially sound. The fitness and probity regime was introduced in December 2011. It is an important tool used by the Central Bank to fulfil its mandate of protecting consumers and safeguarding stability. The regime was significantly strengthened after the financial crisis, with firms required to have individuals pre-approved for senior level roles.
  • There are 48 Pre-Approval Controlled Functions, covering both board and management level appointees