RBS goes Down Under to recruit retail bank head

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ROYAL Bank of Scotland has poached an Australian banking executive to head up its household lending division.

The 82 per cent state-owned lender said Ross McEwan will head its retail banking division from the summer, replacing Brian Hartzer who leaves in June.

Mr McEwan, a New Zealand national, is joining from Commonwealth Bank of Australia where he has run the lender’s retail bank – Australia’s largest – since 2007.

RBS chief executive Stephen Hester said: “Ross McEwan brings a wealth of leadership and banking experience to this important job.

“The retail bank is at the heart of our customer activities and central to the future value and success of the RBS Group.

“We have more to do to fulfil the full potential of the retail business in a changing banking market.

“We all look forward to working with Ross as he leads the business to face these opportunities and challenges.”

Mr McEwan will report to Mr Hester and become a member of the group’s executive committee.

RBS’s retail bank spans the branch, online and telephone channels of the NatWest and RBS brands.

The division has more than £100bn in customer assets and made an operating profit of about £2bn in 2011, up from £1.4bn in 2010.

The division’s impairments losses fell to £788m from £1.16bn a year earlier.

Mr McEwan has more than 25 years’ financial services experience, spanning banking, investments and insurance in Australia and New Zealand.

RBS, bailed out by the Government during the 2008 financial crisis, is making a slow recovery amid the tough UK economy.

Last week RBS said it will soon finish paying back emergency loans to Britain and the United States after reporting first-quarter results ahead of expectations.

The bank made a first-quarter operating profit of £1.2bn, compared with a loss of £144m the previous quarter.