RBS looks for digital salvation after posting ninth successive loss

RBS looks for digital salvation after posting ninth successive loss

Tax-payer owned Royal Bank of Scotland has pledged to take out a further £750 million in operating costs over the next year and £2.5 billion over the next four years after reporting widening losses, its ninth-successive year without a profit.

The bank's net loss for 2016 rose to £6.96 billion from £1.98 billion a year earlier. RBS says it expects to post a profit in 2018 by further removing operating costs and doubling down on digital initiatives across the board.

In the consumer market, more job cuts and branch closures appear inevitable.

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan says a fifth of customers now solely use mobile and digital channels to interact with the bank. "Digital innovation means customers are doing more of their transactions online," he says. "We interact with our customers over 20 times more through digital channels than physical ones. Thirty-five percent of all new products were taken out digitally in UK PBB, and this is rising steadily."

While not specifying numbers, McEwan's words have sparked anger at labour union Unite, which has called for a moratorium on branch closures, highlighting the shuttering of over 520 RBS branches since 2014 and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

Unite national officer Rob MacGregor says: “While banking habits have changed, we would urge RBS and the government to pause and reflect on the bank's current path, which risks cutting too far, by putting a moratorium in place on further branch closures."

Digital upheaval is not just confined to the personal banking market, says McEwan. "We are aiming to service 95% of our commercial customers’ needs through mobile and online by 2020, up from nearly 80% today, by introducing a new digital banking service that will greatly improve experience," he says. "We’re also responding to customer preferences for more innovative lending platforms and products online."

The bank also intends to invest heavily in technology at its NatWest Markets business, replacing hundred of separate product databases with a single scalable platform. It will also roll out a single dealer platform for FX and rates over the coming year.

"This bank has great potential," maintains McEwan. "We believe that by going further on cost reduction and faster on digital transformation we will deliver a simpler, safer and even more customer-focused bank."

Comments: (3)

Craig Lawrance
Craig Lawrance - Starkspur Ltd - Chalfonts 24 February, 2017, 16:591 like 1 like

How confident can we be that this bank will EVER turn a profit? As Andrew Lillico points out in his article, UK tax-payers have seen for 9 straight years a cumulative loss of over £58bn since the bank was rescued at 500p a share during the 2008/2009 bailouts.  It's worth just half that at £29bn today.



João Bohner
João Bohner - Independent Consultant - Carapicuiba 27 February, 2017, 13:18Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


Imagine, if with the current operational costs the services leave to be desired, it is logical that cutting costs the services will get worse.

The approach is wrong!

You have to invest to get rid of legacy systems; eliminate 'batch processes' with corresponding silos and not play fintech startups lottery hoping that in a stroke of luck, a miracle solution will come up that will solve all problems!

Financial transactions must be processed online, real time, completely, definitely, accurately and corporately.
This approach allows to use a single source of information for the corporation, then, yes, the costs per transaction will be reduced drastically, allowing the Bank to grow and not shrink ...


João Bohner
João Bohner - Independent Consultant - Carapicuiba 27 February, 2017, 13:25Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


Just complementing: RBS is not alone!

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