Stop the blood-letting at Nat West

Alison Rose was forced to resign as CEO of NatWest because of political pressure. As the largest shareholder in NatWest, the Government thought the best way to diffuse the row was to force her resignation that came in the early hours so a meeting with senior bankers could go ahead without her.

The decision has cost shareholders £800m, if yesterday’s decline in the share price is sustained. It has led to the usual financial hooliganism from the seedier Hedge Funds

Markets have been disrupted and this feeds through trackers to consumers being disrupted. Meanwhile , this bank, 38% owned by us, is doing rather well.

Which begs the question, “why are we losing one of our brightest bankers?” Even at £5m a year, that values Rose’s presence at 140 times her earnings, that’s quite a write off – for what?

Peter Flavel, ,the CEO of Coutts has also resigned saying he bears ultimate responsibility for the  handling of former Ukip leader’s account

There is no commercial advantage or disadvantage to NatWest in having Nigel Farage as a customer. Not having him as a customer is a disaster, can we seriously think that the CEO of a multi-national bank is getting involved in decisions at customer level?

She got involved when the Farage PR machine kicked in. Rather than defuse the situation, Coutts played into Farage’s hands – making him the victim and eliciting a sympathy vote which was retrofitted into various red cards that could be dished out to Rose – and if Farage maintains the momentum – the board.

There is the error of judgement in talking to the BBC out of turn, it may be that it was late in the day, it may have been influenced by a glass of wine, but Alison Rose forgot to say “I can’t discuss individual customers” and started gossiping. This happens a lot but gossip is something that Nigel Farage picks up on and exploits.

Clearly there is a breach in client confidentiality and  it’s questionable whether Farage was a drain on Coutts’ resources (despite Frances’ Coppola’s analysis). It’s hard to understand how a bank could mess things up this badly but this really is about local PR and not a CEO issue.

But by far and away the biggest issue is that the Bank’s biggest shareholder is the Government which , according to Farage, has behaved “exemplorarily”. That means they have not told him to stop swinging the lead but have pandered to his whim and got rid of the CEO.

Farage is meanwhile campaigning for all the sorry banking clients who have not been closed down. I am an RBS client- Ie haven’t touched my  account in ten years but I still get statutory correspondence. It clearly takes a lot less to deactivate a Coutts account, Nigel Farage should be reminded of Groucho Marx’s quip that he wouldn’t join any club that would have him as a member.

Meanwhile the tax payer and other shareholders of Natwest will have to grin and bear it. And Alison Rose has every right to consider she is being hung out to dry. As Rachael Reeves has said , she is victim of bullying.

We are at a time of acute financial hardship for many, a time of severe weather boding ill for the planet. These important matters are being sidelined by this circus. We have to stop this cycle of persecuting senior business leaders and get on with managing finance in the way Alison Rose was managing NatWest; for the avoidance of doubt, I mean “managing well”.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Stop the blood-letting at Nat West

  1. M Snowdon says:

    Call me a cynic but I always wonder who gains what by making a small matter a massive crisis.

  2. jonspainwp says:

    It seems that the problem has affected many other people, it’s not just about Nigel. The DEI culture can sometimes be quite exclusivist.

  3. Nigel Hawkes says:

    Clearly it is a CEO issue when the CEO is breaching client confidentiality and lying to the BBC. She should have been sacked on the spot. As its largest shareholder the government should insist on a board level appointment to ensure the bank acts in the best interests of its clients and shareholders. Mr Farage would be ideal.

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