A bank paid out $19 million to two executives just to keep them from walking away, but there are strings attached

Citizens Financial Group just gave a pair of “golden handcuffs” to two executives who could one day lead the bank.

The 14th largest bank with total assets of $222 billion offered additional retention bonuses to its head of consumer banking, Brendan Coughlin, and its chief financial officer, John Woods.

They are entering the horse race to replace current CEO and Chairman Bruce Van Saun, the Rhode Island-headquartered bank said this week. But he has not announced a retirement date and the company has not announced his departure.

Accordingly, the Citizens board on Thursday gave Coughlin a mixed cash and stock award worth $12 million and gave Woods a $7 million reward. The awards are a combination of time-based restricted stock units, performance shares and cash.

The problem is that the performance share units and restricted stock units only vest in three years. And Coughlin would have to repay $2 million and Woods would have to pay $1 million — the size of their respective cash bonuses — if they resign or are fired within three years. The ‘leadership succession awards’ are intended to keep Coughlin and Woods in place and off the market until 2027.

“Given the strength of our leadership team and success in transforming our business, our executives are highly attractive in the marketplace,” Citizens’ board said this week. “In addition, the board has deemed it critical that the company retains key executives identified as potential mid-term CEO succession candidates.”

The varying size of the awards was intentional, the company said, and designed so that both executives would have similar levels of stock ownership in the bank. Coughlin joined Citizens in 2020 and has less outstanding equity than Woods, who took up his position in March 2017. The bonuses are in addition to the $3.9 million the bank paid Coughlin and $4.3 million to Woods in 2023, company information shows.

Van Saun, 66, has been chairman and CEO and chairman of the bank’s executive committee since 2013.

Citizens declined to comment on the financial filings.

This story originally appeared on Fortune.com