RBS-owner NatWest Group’s CEO resigns

RBS-owner NatWest Group's CEO resigns

Alison Rose

Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest, has resigned following a row involving Nigel Farage, the former UK Independence Party leader and current GB News host.

The row centred around the decision of Coutts, NatWest’s private banking business, to close Mr Farage’s account, allegedly due to his political views contradicting the bank’s values.

Ms Rose faced intensifying pressure after she was found to have inaccurately briefed the BBC regarding the decision to close Mr Farage’s account. Initially, she stated it was solely for commercial reasons, which the broadcaster inaccurately reported. Mr Farage, however, presented evidence suggesting otherwise, the Financial Times reports.

Mr Farage has now called for NatWest’s chair Sir Howard Davies to step down and for a new interim board to “put in place very quickly”.

This incident has led to wider discussion on lenders’ rights to terminate client relationships due to personal views, and has resulted in new regulations forcing banks to provide longer notice periods for account closures and explicit reasons behind such decisions.

Last week, economic secretary to the treasury Andrew Griffith said: “Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, and it must be respected by all institutions.

“Banks occupy a privileged place in society, and it is right that we fairly balance the rights of banks to act in their commercial interest, with the right for everyone to express themselves freely.

“These changes will boost the rights of customers – providing real transparency, time to appeal and making it a much fairer playing field.”

Mr Davies stated: “The board and Alison Rose have agreed, by mutual consent, that she will step down as CEO of the NatWest Group. It is a sad moment. She has dedicated all her working life so far to NatWest and will leave many colleagues who respect and admire her.”

Ms Rose commented: “I remain immensely proud of the progress the bank has made in supporting people, families and business across the UK, and building the foundations for sustainable growth. My NatWest colleagues are central to that success, and so I would like to personally thank them for all that they have done.”

Following Ms Rose’s departure from NatWest, where she has spent over 30 years and served as CEO since 2019, Paul Thwaite, head of NatWest’s commercial and institutional business, will assume the role of interim CEO for a year as the bank seeks a permanent replacement.

NatWest’s shares dipped by around 3% following the news. The bank’s earnings for the first half of the year are to be reported later this week.

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