Alison Rose to become first female RBS chief executive

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Royal Bank of Scotland Alison Rose to become first female RBS chief executive

Deputy head of retail banking arm will also be first woman to lead one of UK’s big four banks

Alison Rose
Alison Rose will be paid a basic salary of £2.2m a year, £100,000 more than her predecessor, Ross McEwan. Photograph: Domenico Pugliese/RBS

Alison Rose will be the first woman to lead one of Britain’s biggest banks after Royal Bank of Scotland named her as its new chief executive.

RBS ended months of speculation when it confirmed Rose, the favourite for the job, will take over from Ross McEwan on 1 November.

She has worked at RBS for 27 years and is deputy chief executive of NatWest Holdings, RBS’s retail and commercial banking division. Rose also runs RBS’s commercial and private banking business, including Coutts.

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Rose will be the first woman to run RBS and the first female chief executive of one of Britain’s big four banks – RBS, HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds. She will be paid a salary of £1.1m plus £1.1m in shares and £26,250 in other benefits, taking her basic pay to more than £2.2m a year.

Rose will also be eligible for an annual bonus in shares worth up to 175% of her salary and a pension contribution worth £110,000 a year. Her salary is £100,000 a year more than McEwan’s because he did not take a pay rise in the past six years. RBS said Rose’s pay was “restrained” compared with other bank chief executives.

RBS has been looking for a new boss since McEwan announced his departure in April. The taxpayer-backed bank was reported to have selected Rose last month and was waiting for her approval by regulators.

Rose beat other candidates, thought to include HSBC’s UK head, Ian Stuart, the Whitbread chief executive, Alison Brittain – who used to run Lloyds’ retail bank – and the RBS chief operating officer, Mark Bailie.

McEwan put RBS on a financially stronger footing during his six years in charge but he leaves Rose with the task of repairing the bank’s reputation after a series of scandals including poor treatment of struggling business customers by its global restructuring group. She will have to steer RBS through choppy economic waters, especially if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Rose will also need to guide RBS back to full private ownership under a government plan to shed the 62% stake owned by taxpayers by 2024. RBS was bailed out by the government during the financial crisis to protect the wider system.

If Labour forms a government at the next election, she will have to deal with the party’s plans to keep RBS, the biggest lender to UK businesses, in public ownership and direct it to support economic growth as part of a “public banking ecosystem”.

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Rose said: “Our industry is facing a series of challenges: from the ongoing economic and political uncertainty to shifts in the behaviour and expectations of our customers, driven by rapid advances in technology.

“It will be my priority to make sure we are ready to meet these challenges and build the best bank for families, businesses and communities.

“We will be driven with real purpose in our work to help achieve the goals and potential of our customers and be there for them at key moments in their lives.”

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