February 2, 2014 1:50 pm

RBS to shake up management team

The new chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland is preparing a sweeping overhaul of his top management team as part of a broad restructuring aimed at strengthening the bank’s focus on retail and small business customers.

Ross McEwan is planning to appoint Les Matheson, acting head of the retail business, to the role permanently, according to people familiar with his plans.

RBS is also hoping to name a new finance director as early as this month, having drawn up a shortlist of candidates to replace Nathan Bostock who resigned in December to move to Santander UK.

Philip Broadley, who is due to step down this year as Old Mutual’s chief financial officer, is among the potential replacements for Mr Bostock, according to people familiar with the process.

Other potential candidates for the role include Stephen Jones, finance director at Santander and Charlotte Jones, deputy chief financial officer at Credit Suisse.

RBS declined to comment, while Mr Broadley could not be reached for comment.

Mr McEwan, who moved up from head of retail to become group chief executive last October, is expected to signal further changes to his executive team when he unveils his new strategy later this month alongside annual results.

“Ross will be making changes to the team over the next year or so,” said one person familiar with RBS.

The management changes could include a fresh appointment to the SME business, which has been heavily criticised in recent months. RBS is exploring ways to boost the prominence of the SME business, including stripping it out of the corporate division.

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RBS’s search for a new finance director is still at a relatively early stage, while Mr Matheson’s appointment requires regulatory clearance. Both could be delayed beyond this month.

Filling the retail and finance director roles would be a relief for Mr McEwan, given the troubles RBS has faced in recent months. The bank was last week forced to reveal more than £3bn of fresh provisions to cover expected litigation costs, prompting the entire executive committee to waive bonus entitlements for last year.

Headhunters pointed out that the bank was hunting for a finance director at a time when four other FTSE 100 financial services institutions – Standard Chartered, Standard Life, Aviva and Old Mutual – were looking to fill the same position. Senior bankers said top jobs at RBS were particularly hard to fill given the extent of upheaval at the bank and the intense political focus on pay.

Mr McEwan is also expected to announce significant cost cuts, including further job losses, as he attempts to boost profitability.

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