RBS chief seeks to calm staff after EU vote

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan

Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan sent a memo to the company’s 90,000 staff to try and ease their concerns amid a calamitous drop in the RBS share price since the UK voted 51.9% to leave the EU late last week.

Since the vote, financial markets have been in turmoil amid genuine confusion as to whether the UK government will ever invoke the EU’s Article 50 process to start a two-year withdrawal from the EU.

RBS shares have fallen from about 248p on Thursday night to about 179p.

McEwan said the vote “carries with it a range of unknowns about the short, medium and long-term prospects for the UK and its economy” and that “added to this we now have a period of political uncertainty.”

But he said the RBS view is that “the UK remains a large, well developed economy with good long-term prospects.”

New Zealander McEwan told staff: “As you know, last week the UK voted to leave the European Union.

“Whilst this result was a surprise for many, we had planned extensively for both possible outcomes to ensure we were well placed to support our customers and colleagues.

“Our day 1 plan worked, but of course the result of the vote carries with it a range of unknowns about the short, medium and long-term prospects for the UK and its economy.

“Added to this we now have a period of political uncertainty.

“Both of these factors combined have led to significant falls in the value of the pound, the value of many British companies and of course, the value of UK and European banking stocks – ours included.

“The reason for these falls and wider volatility is essentially the inability of the market to find certainty in what shape and state the UK economy and its companies will be in leading up to and when eventually leaving the EU.

“Despite the noisy fallout from the vote, many of the fundamentals remain true.

“Our view as a bank is that the UK remains a large, well developed economy with good long-term prospects.

“It’s our home market and our job as a leading bank here is to help it succeed.

“Last week before the vote, we had 16 million customers that needed serving well.

“Today we have the same number and our job remains the same – to look after their needs better than anyone else.

“I also know that the consequences of the vote ripple beyond the markets and into everyday exchanges between colleagues, friends and family.

“As someone born outside the UK, I see one of this country’s biggest strengths as its openness to the rest of the world, and the people of it.

“As a major employer and backer of the economy we have a duty to ensure that we reflect that.

“The diversity of those who make up this bank at every level is key to our success.

“In uncertain times I want to ensure that everyone understands that.

“The strengths and determination of the people in this bank was on full display last week as the vote became clear.

“Our colleagues on the CIB trading floors, across the frontline and in finance, communications and supporting roles across the bank did us all proud and we were the first UK bank out there reassuring our customers.

“Let’s stay focused on what matters – serving our customers well.

“Thank you as always for your continued efforts.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.