RBS Chief Executive Says It’s Difficult to Rebuild a Collapsed Institution

Stephen Hester

To rebuild a once-powerful global institution that nearly collapsed during the financial crisis is a Herculean task, admitted Stephen Hester, the Royal Bank of Scotland Chief Executive. Though, the task is difficult, yet the British banker is confident of success.

The 49 year old Mr. Hester was brought in to save RBS, as it was on the verge of failure in November 2008. He has engineered a dramatic reorganization of the bank, which remains 84%owned by the British Government.

A collection of non-core banking assets, including 318 retail branches, is being sold. After the bank's emergency nationalization, it is under intense political and regulatory inquiry. Mr. Hester said, "We said it was a five-year plan and so far we are 18 months down that path. I think the riskiest bit of that plan was in the first year. That is when we had to do the big things -- that was the riskiest phase".

He added that it was the right time when the decisions and changes are very much the part of the recovery plan, though they may not be greatly visible. The bank is in constant fire from the Government over its move to keep paying bonuses to retain its senior bankers, which indicated that the RBS rebuilding has not been without controversy.