RBS becomes first of UK’s big four banks to be led by a woman as Alison Rose takes top job

RBS becomes first of UK’s big four banks to be led by a woman as Alison Rose takes top job

New boss to take over from Ross McEwan who will leave for National Australia Bank on 31 October

The Royal Bank of Scotland has appointed Alison Rose as its new chief executive officer, making her the first woman to lead one of the UK’s four largest lenders.

Ms Rose, who is currently chief executive of RBS’s commercial and private banking division, as well as deputy CEO of NatWest, had been widely tipped for the top job.

When she succeeds outgoing chief executive Ross McEwan on 31 October, RBS will also become the only FTSE 100 company with women in its top two positions – Katie Murray is the lender’s chief financial officer.

Other lenders including Santander UK and Virgin Money have been led by women, but none of the four dominant high street banks – RBS, Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC – have had a female chief executive until now.

Ms Rose told investors it is an “exciting new chapter” for the bank as it faces “economic and political uncertainty” as well as changing consumer behaviour.

Commenting on the appointment, Howard Davies, chair of RBS, said: “Following a rigorous internal and external process, I am confident that we have appointed the best person for the job.”

Ms Rose began working at NatWest in 1992. RBS acquired NatWest in 2000 as it went on a buying spree that would see it rapidly expand to become the world’s biggest bank before the financial crisis almost brought it to collapse.

In the aftermath of a £45bn taxpayer bailout in 2008, Ms Rose helped to rebuild the bank’s balance sheet.

The bank has undergone a massive overhaul under Mr McEwan, who is leaving to become chief executive at National Australia Bank.

His tenure has been dogged by a number of long-running scandals including the now-infamous Global Restructuring Group unit which squeezed thousands of firms, putting many out of business and stripping them of their assets to make profits for the bank. 

Ms Rose said: “It is a huge honour to have been appointed as the new CEO of RBS and I am looking forward to getting started.

“As one of the oldest and most important financial institutions in the UK, we have a key role to play in supporting the economy and championing the potential that exists across the country.”

“Ross leaves a strong platform for his successor – a bank that has refocused on its core markets in the UK and Ireland and resolved all its major legacy issues, while returning to profitability and paying dividends.”

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