Financial News

  • 24 February 2014, 10:56

Rose To Bloom As RBS's Top Female Executive

One of Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS) top investment bankers is to be elevated next week to a role that will make her among the most senior female executives in the history of the taxpayer-backed lender.

Sky News understands that Alison Rose, who sits on the executive committee of RBS's markets and international banking unit, is poised to become the head of its restructured corporate bank.

Ms Rose is expected to be appointed to the role by Ross McEwan, RBS's chief executive, as part of a shake-up of the bank that will see thousands of jobs disappear.

It is unclear whether Ms Rose will join the main board of RBS as part of her promotion. Typically, only the bank's chief executive and finance director serve as plc directors.

However, her new role is likely to make her the most senior woman ever to work at RBS in its home market.

Last year, Ellen Alemany retired as chief executive of RBS Citizens Financial Group, the lender's US retail bank, which is about to be spun off through a separate stock market listing.

A source close to RBS insisted that the plan had not yet been finalised ahead of next Thursday's announcement by Mr McEwan, when he will also unveil an estimated 8bn loss for 2013.

Sky News revealed earlier this week that RBS is preparing to shed tens of thousands of jobs from its workforce of 120,000 by selling or closing some of its divisions.

These will include the withdrawal from dozens of the 38 countries in which it still has a presence.

The reductions will include 18,500 staff employed by Citizens, the US retail bank which RBS has already announced that it will offload through a stock market listing.

Another 4,500 jobs will be transferred as part of the sale of more than 300 branches to a consortium which includes the Church of England's pension fund.

Mr McEwan plans to emphasise his focus on serving customers through greater automation of banking services, which will also mean thousands of jobs going over time.

In addition, central functions at RBS will also face job cuts similar to those implemented by Mr McEwan while he was running the retail bank.

Ms Rose will not be a direct replacement for Chris Sullivan, the current chief executive of RBS's corporate bank, who is likely to move to an alternative role.

She is, though, likely to have overall responsibility for the division, which is expected to include the remnants of a once-global investment bank.

The revised RBS strategy will cement the final retrenchment from the empire-building of Fred Goodwin, its former chief executive, and create a significantly more modest operation than the one envisaged by Stephen Hester, Mr McEwan's direct predecessor.

Mr Hester was effectively forced out of RBS last year by the Chancellor, George Osborne, who wants the bank

Taxpayers own 81% of RBS after injecting more than 45bn into the bank in 2008, but the chance of recovering the full sum now seems remote.

A sale of any of the Government's shares is unlikely for several more years unless Mr Osborne - or his successor - is prepared to stomach a substantial loss.

Last year, Sir Philip Hampton, RBS's chairman, said he thought the bank would be in a position to help ministers write a prospectus for the sale of shares by this spring, an ambition he will concede next week is no longer achievable.

Sky News revealed on Tuesday that Sir Philip plans to step down next year, with the most likely departure date being at RBS's annual meeting in May.

In a video posted on RBS's website earlier this week, Mr McEwan said his aspiration was "not to run the world's largest bank; it is to run the UK's best one".

"A lot of our costs are old costs related to a big global group that we are not anymore," he said.

"We are too bureaucratic, we take too long (and) we are not focused on the customers' needs. Don't confuse when I talk about taking costs out with how do we serve customers.

"My view is you do both: you serve customers better, and you strip a lot of costs out."

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