Obituary: Bob Maiden, former managing director of RBS whose signature graced 350 million banknotes

Bob Maiden, banker. Born 15 September, 1933 in Montrose. Died: 18 September, 2022 in Edinburgh, aged 89

Bob Maiden, who has died aged 89, was one of the last of Scotland’s gentleman bankers. As Managing Director of The Royal Bank of Scotland, his watchwords were integrity, due diligence, transparency and accountability as opposed to the ruinous rock ‘n’ roll financial practices which were to follow him.

He was the first manager of the RBS computer centre which progressed from a bold new experiment to the fundamental business essential to modern-day banking. By the time he retired in 1991, having reached the very top via Manchester Business School, his name had appeared on some 350 million banknotes.

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It was his steadfast banking principles which Bob employed when the business tycoon Robert Maxwell strode into the St Andrew Square headquarters of RBS in 1986 and announced that he was in Edinburgh to save that year’s Commonwealth Games and that the Scottish banking world must help him. There was a £2 million black hole in the business plan as various broadcasters and sponsors pulled out.

Bob Maiden's watchwords were integrity, due diligence, transparency and accountability
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Bob Maiden listened as Maxwell described how much new business RBS could enjoy by pledging a significant contribution to the cause. It was Bob’s patriotic duty to come up with the cash – maybe a million or so would do it. Of course the bank would get its money back. Perhaps Bob could even stand next to the Queen as she opened the games at Meadowbank.

This was a proposition which could not be rushed. Although sympathetic and willing to be persuaded, basing his decision on best business practice and responsible financial assessment, Bob was unconvinced by Maxwell’s bravado and boosterism. Bob turned Maxwell down, concluding that RBS would never see its investment again. It was a decision which proved to be correct.

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Two years later, when the tycoon disappeared from his yacht and drowned in the Atlantic, having stolen £450 million from the Mirror Group pension fund and defaulted on a £50 million bank loan, Bob realised that he was perhaps the only banker who had not been intimidated by Maxwell’s presence, behaviour or bullying demands.

Robert Mitchell Maiden was born in Montrose and entered the Royal Bank of Scotland in his home town as an apprentice aged 16 in 1950. After service in Montrose and Arbroath, he was transferred in 1957 to Head Office in Edinburgh and became an Inspector. In 1965 he was appointed Manager of the Bank’s first computer centre team which had been formed to introduce the Bank’s first computer system, leading the team for three years.

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After being the Manager in Dunfermline for five years, Bob was appointed Superintendent of London branches in 1974, Treasurer in 1976 and a member of the Bank of England’s “Lifeboat Committee”.

By 1982 he was Finance Director and a member of the main Board, having been Chief Accountant and General Manager of Financial Control. When the Royal Bank merged with Williams and Glyn’s in 1985, Bob had been their Executive Director for a year, responsible for their banking operations across the UK.

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The following year, he was appointed Managing Director of the Royal Bank and introduced a new corporate motto “Where People Matter”. He oversaw the Bank’s Pension Fund, and was one of the original Directors of the Direct Line insurance company.

In a tribute when Bob retired from full time duties after 41 years, the then chairman of RBS, the late Lord (George) Younger, said: “You have always epitomised The Royal Bank. You have given marvellous service to this Bank and its predecessors for a very long time and with great distinction.

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Lord Younger continued ominously: “I can only add that we will try to maintain into the future the integrity and high standards that you have bequeathed to us.”

Following his retiral, Bob continued to advise two European banks. He was Vice-Chairman of CC Bank AG in Germany and a non executive Director of CC Banque in Belgium which were jointly owned by RBS and Banco Santander.

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Having been one of the original Directors, he was Chairman of LEEL, Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise Ltd (now Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian), from 1994-96. Two of the highlights during his chairmanship were the opening of the Festival Theatre and the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, with LEEL acting as project managers for both of these developments.

There were many other voluntary positions: Bob was a member of the Court of Edinburgh Napier University for ten years, served on the Scottish Panel of Adjudicators – Investors in People for five years and was a member of the Accounts Commission for seven years. He was a Fellow of the Chartered Banker Institute, the Chartered Management Institute and of the Royal Society of Arts. He was a former Director of the Junior Chamber and the Senior Chamber of Commerce and a Vice President of both the Scottish Council, Development and Industry and the Chartered Banker Institute.

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His wife Margaret predeceased him in 2012 and in 2018 he married Dr Pamela Molyneaux with whom he travelled the world in his later years.

A keen swimmer, golfer and interested in many sports, especially football, Bob was a lifelong member of the Church of Scotland. He had served as organist at Hillside Parish Church in Angus when he was 21, ordained as an Elder at Dunfermline Abbey and was an active Elder there and at Colinton Parish Church for 30 years – where he was at morning service before his sudden death at home in the evening with Pamela by his side. For six years Bob was a member of the Church of Scotland Personnel Committee. He examined and advised the Church’s pension scheme, preparing two reports which he submitted to the General Assembly.

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A celebration of Bob Maiden’s life will be held at Colinton Parish Church, Edinburgh, on Saturday, December 10 at 2.30pm.

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