Commentary: Goodwin doesn't need the money so why sully his hands in world of work?

FLIGHTS to business centres round the world; door-opening opportunities; and a chance to escape the past: RMJM has all the makings of a second life for Sir Frederick Anderson Goodwin, CA, FCIBS, a retired chartered accountant out of work in Edinburgh.

Across the global banking world, there can be few people more desperate to leave his past behind and make a fresh start.

Stewing at home in Edinburgh, constantly reminded of the debacle for which he was held largely responsible, was never going to be for him.

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Nor was voluntary or charitable work, though many would argue such humility would be the beginning of wisdom for him.

But what will he do exactly for RMJM? What could possibly connect the former head of stricken RBS and the architectural firm behind the Holyrood parliament building?

At the peak of his career with RBS, Sir Fred was one of Scotland's most-travelled global businessmen. He has a working knowledge of the world's main financial centres. Prior to joining RBS, he headed the Touche Ross teams in London, Abu Dhabi and the Cayman Islands, sorting out the collapsed mess that was the Bank of Credit and Commerce.

He impressed the Clydesdale's owners, National Australia Bank. And he had a persuasive ability with investors, who backed him over his acquisition of National Westminster Bank. He oversaw, and was actively involved in, the creation of a corporate headquarters in Edinburgh for what was – albeit briefly – one of the world's top five banks.

And he, too, has a bulging contact book to bring.

RMJM (it stands for Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall) was founded in Edinburgh in 1956. It has grown to become an international architectural practice. Best known in Scotland for its involvement in the highly controversial Holyrood Parliament building, it has made its mark with prestigious, signature architecture worldwide.

Today, it has offices across the UK, Europe, Russia, Asia and the Americas. It has specialised in work in the higher education sector, including campuses for the University of Stirling and University of York.

RMJM is stepping up its international profile and its contacts in the worlds of politics, finance and education. Sir Fred will provide consultancy and advisory services, drawing on his experience with banks and financial centres worldwide. His experience of seeing through the overhaul of RBS's offices and the creation of Gogarburn – one of the biggest campus-style corporate headquarters in Europe – will be a big plus.

Both the work and the international scope it brings will be well suited to him. Indeed, Goodwin could hardly have wished for a more opportune re-entry into the business world.

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But why bother to work, with that explosively controversial pension settlement, albeit now reduced to 342,000? For most people, such an income in retirement is beyond comprehension. It conjures up images of luxury cruises, homes in the most beautiful parts of the world – and lots of time for golf and following motor-racing.

Why sully the dream with work?

The truth is, few businessmen ever settle quietly into retirement. And for Goodwin, physically fit and in good trim, and still far from official retirement age, it is unthinkable. Retirement is just not on his horizon, nor a life of contemplative regret, whatever the debacle that engulfed the Royal Bank of Scotland.

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