RBS to shrink investment bank and cut 3,500 jobs

The Momentum UK Team 12 January 2012

The Royal Bank of Scotland has announced 3,500 jobs will be lost in its investment arm in an attempt to reduce risks and focus on its most profitable operations.

The losses come as part of RBS changes to its wholesale banking operations to ensure they deliver the Group's strategy announced 2009 after its tax payer bail out in October 2008.

Along with 2,000 job losses in the second half of last year, a total of 30,000 have been axed in the last two years, 22,000 of them in the UK.

The changes will see the exit and downsizing of selected existing investment activities such as cash equities, corporate broking, equity capital markets, and mergers and acquisitions businesses which are no longer profitable.

It will instead continue to focus on traditional strengths such as fixed income, foreign exchange, debt financing, transactions services and risk management solutions - all of which are little affected by changes in the global economy.

Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS, said: "It is clear that, particularly in the wholesale banking arena, significant new pressures have emerged.

"Our goal from these changes is to be more focused for customers, more conservatively funded, more efficient and with better, more stable returns for shareholders overall."

The reorganisation of RBS will see restructuring of its investment division - which provides services to its largest clients - into separate 'markets' and 'international banking' divisions.

RBS said that this was in preparation for new UK regulatory requirements for banks to ring-fence their core operations from riskier investment banking.

Robert Peston, the BBC's business editor said: "The overall aim is to improve profits and reduce risks. [This] matters to most of us, since taxpayers are sitting on losses of £26bn on the £45.5bn they invested in RBS to rescue it."

The bank is now 82%-owned by the UK government after taxpayers injected £45.5bn of new capital into RBS.

Anger over the job losses will be further exacerbated as reports suggest the bank's CEO Stephen Hester stands in line to receive a potential bonus of up to £7m this year.

The changes announced today will begin immediately but may not be implemented until 2015.