Stephen Hester has been the chief executive officer of the bank since 2008, appointed during the credit crunch. The bank overstretched itself when the global economy was strong and, when international credit lines dried up in the wake of Lehman Brothers incident, the UK government took a majority stake in the bank to prevent it from collapsing.
Mr Hester was deemed to be a safe pair of hands who would strip out the non-core assets of the bank and nurse the company back to good health. The announcement last night that Mr Hester is stepping down has spooked the markets as he was seen as a low-risk CEO. It casts uncertainty over the future of the bank, alongside news of the job cuts, and members of parliament are divided over what the next step for RBS should be.
Some factions of Westminster want the bailed-out financial institution broken up into a ‘bad’ and ‘good’ bank, while others would rather follow the course of gradual asset-stripping. This lack of direction has clearly weighed on investor confidence.