NEW RBS boss Ross McEwan proves his plan to turn around the ailing giant is far from half-baked – on a clandestine mission to meet and greet grassroots businesses.
The London-based £1.3m-a-year fatcat has only been in the job a few days, but that did nothing to stop him secretly flying north to meet the owners of a Leith cake shop as part of a fact-finding mission. The 56-year-old, who has vowed to “obsess about customers all day every day”, held a private meeting with staff at Mimi’s Bakehouse on the Shore.
The New Zealand-born bigwig has vowed to deliver on a pledge of helping small traders work more easily with the controversial state-owned bank.
Mr McEwan and his entourage – on their first foray to the Capital – refused to comment when cornered by the News at the bakehouse. His press team later described the visit as “great”. But Mimi’s owner, Michelle Phillips, was more forthcoming and said she was delighted to be the focus of the hands-on attention. “We’re quite happy for him to come down and actually see how the business works and how we have found working with RBS over the past three years,” she said.
The hands-on approach is a departure from the leadership of predecessor Stephen Hester, 52, who was labelled out of touch with the public for his refusal to give up pay bonuses.
Mr McEwan, a former Commonwealth Bank of Australia retail executive, is clearly a canny banker. He has already pledged to forgo his bonus and says he intends to repay British taxpayers after a chequered period in which RBS has been mired in a string of scandals following a £46 billion public bail-out.
Blows to its image include being caught up in a £290m Libor interest rate fixing scandal and the continuing PPI debacle.
However, the executive’s flying visit was not entirely a cake-walk. He also found himself in discussions with executives around St Andrew Square after being treated to afternoon tea at Mimi’s.