NatWest hires Crystal from UBS to be CEO of Coutts

Emma Crystal

NatWest Group has announced the appointment of wealth management executive Emma Crystal as the new CEO of its wealth businesses, including the Coutts private bank, subject to regulatory approval.

Crystal succeeds Peter Flavel who left the embattled private bank last summer.

NatWest was plunged into crisis last year following a row with former Brexit party leader Nigel Farage over a decision to close his bank accounts at Coutts.

The crisis also led eventually to the departure of NatWest CEO Alison Rose.

“Emma started her career in investment banking at Deutsche Bank and brings extensive wealth management experience from her time at Credit Suisse where she held a number of senior leadership roles including leading their Northern and Western European Wealth Management business,” said NatWest.

“She will join in the summer from UBS where she is currently Lead, Sustainable Finance Group.

“Emma will report directly to Chief Executive Officer, Paul Thwaite and be a member of the Executive Committee of NatWest Holdings.

“She will also sit on the Coutts Board in her capacity as Coutts CEO.”

Thwaite said: “Emma’s extensive Wealth Management experience and deep client focus make her the ideal person to lead our Wealth Businesses at this time.

“The UK Wealth Management market is large and growing and Emma’s proven ability to work across organisational boundaries will be invaluable in helping us deliver an outstanding client experience and achieve our growth ambitions.”

Crystal said: “I’m delighted to be joining NatWest Group and to have the opportunity to lead our Wealth Businesses.

“In Coutts we have one of the strongest Private Banking brands in the market and as part of the wider Group we are uniquely placed to support clients with their full range of banking, lending and wealth management needs.

“I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues to deliver the exceptional service our clients deserve.”

Coutts Chairman Lord Remnant added: “Emma has all the qualities needed to take Coutts forward.

“Her knowledge and understanding of clients combined with her commercial experience make her the ideal person to help Coutts write the next chapter in our history.

“I would like to welcome Emma, on behalf of the Coutts Board, and am very much looking forward to working with her.”

NatWest’s private banking arm generated just over £1 billion of revenues for NatWest in 2022.

The Farage episode sparked a backlash after the politician obtained an internal bank document outlining he was cut partly because an internal committee decided his views did not align with the bank’s.

A law firm review into the decision found “serious failings” in its handling of Farage’s accounts, but that the bank nonetheless acted lawfully and mainly on commercial grounds.

The second phase of the review published in December found Coutts may have breached regulatory rules in other account closure decisions, but found no evidence of discrimination over people’s politics.