Royal Bank of Scotland boss Stephen Hester has broken his silence after waiving a near-£1m bonus, saying that recent media coverage about the bank had been personalised and discomforting.
In a letter to the bank’s staff Mr Hester said many employees had felt an impact from the criticism even though it was mainly directed towards himself and his predecessor Fred Goodwin, who was stripped of his knighthood after leading the bank to the brink of collapse.
He said the bank is “making progress in the face of a difficult inheritance” and is ahead of its schedule to clean itself up following its £45bn bailout, and even though it is still making a loss and is now a much safer company.
He added that “RBS is full of good people, doing their best across a multiple set of challenges” and they can successfully overcome great obstacles.
But with the bank expected to take further criticism ahead of the bonus season, he said staff needed to bear in mind the bigger picture, as the wider public suffers the effects of the spending squeeze and the economic gloom.
He said: “Many people within RBS and in the wider economies we serve are facing uncertainties around jobs, earnings, housing values and many other things.
“None of us, individually or RBS as a whole, exists in a vacuum. We do need to keep in mind that bigger picture.”