Hester begins 'moral crusade’ to reform state-backed RBS



Stephen Hester, the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) , is to undertake a moral overhaul of the state-backed institution, calling on all 150,000 of his employees to consider “obsessively” the external impact of everything they do in order to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Mr Hester, whose bank is expected to receive a Libor-fixing related fine of several hundred million pounds early in the new year, will ask RBS’s staff to place the “outside world” at the centre of all transactions.

The move follows a challenge from the Rt Rev Justin Welby, the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury , who asked Mr Hester what the social point of his bank was during an evidence session of the Commission on Banking Standards.

RBS is working on a new slogan to be used internally, which will be rolled out to staff in 2013. The new strategy, which is still being finalised, is aimed at reminding staff of the bank’s place in society.

“If we succeed looking outside, we will succeed looking inside,” Mr Hester told The Sunday Telegraph.

“We exist to serve customers well and everyone at RBS has to be obsessive about that. [There is a] huge amount of effort going on to bring that into the forefront of people’s minds.”

The comments come five weeks after Mr Welby attacked Mr Hester during a hearing of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, of which the outgoing Bishop of Durham is a member.

“What is the duty of an enormous bank like yours, approaching 100pc of GDP, well into the hundreds of billions of pounds, what is your duty to society, and why didn’t you mention it?” Mr Welby asked Mr Hester.

“I think that any big company, whether a bank or a big large company, if you are good, part of what you are doing is you are a good citizen,” Mr Hester replied.

Mr Hester is understood to feel that the new strategy is part of the evolutionary change at the bank he has led since he took over from Fred Goodwin (LSE: GDWN.L - news) in 2009, rather than a revolutionary change.

Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) is undergoing a renewal programme under its new chief executive, Antony Jenkins, who has decreed the bank must be “socially useful” in its efforts.


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