Alison Rose, who has made history as the first woman to run one of Britain’s major high street lenders, also acknowledged the “threat from climate change, a lack of financial confidence and barriers to enterprise and growth”.
In a message sent to all RBS staff, Rose said: “Simplifying what we do and making bold choices about how we deliver for customers, will also be part of an ambitious plan for the future that I will share in the New Year.
“I want to build a bank that is more open, more accessible and more inclusive. One that is truly representative of the communities we support. I also want to embed a culture of continuous learning, where personal development is second nature and where we have the skills and the mind-sets needed to compete and thrive in the digital economy.
“As well as inclusion, learning and development, I want to build a stronger dialogue with you. You know our customers best and you have ideas for how to improve what we do.”
Rose has taken over from Ross McEwan, who recently oversaw his final set of results at the Edinburgh-headquartered lender.
RBS swung to a loss after taking a fresh £900 million hit for payment protection insurance (PPI) claims. The group reported a pre-tax operating losses of £8m for the three months to the end of September, compared with a profit of £961m a year earlier. It posted attributable losses of £315m for the third-quarter period, against profits of £448m a year earlier.
RBS, which remains 62 per cent owned by the taxpayer, blamed losses on the £900m bill for PPI following a last-minute surge in claims ahead of the late August deadline, as well as a “particularly challenging” quarter for its investment banking arm. The bank said it remained on track for full-year expectations in “uncertain times”.
In her maiden address to the group’s tens of thousands of staff, Rose also said: “At the heart of how I will run the bank is my conviction that if our customers do well, if our economy does well and if our communities do well, then we all succeed together.
“We have the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives and I will be looking for everyone to focus their efforts on what we are here to do – helping people, families and businesses achieve their goals.
“Shared success also means playing our part to help tackle the problems that can hold the country back, like the threat from climate change, a lack of financial confidence and barriers to enterprise and growth. These pillars will form part of our strategy.”
Rose also unveiled change to the bank’s executive committee.
Paul Thwaite is appointed chief executive for commercial banking and Peter Flavel is confirmed as chief executive for private banking.
Commercial and private banking will cease to exist as one business area, but the pair will continue their “close collaboration” and focus on cross-referrals, Rose added.
Olly Holbourn will add “purpose, sustainability and ventures” to his responsibilities as director of strategy, she noted, while Rob Whittick is appointed director of the office of the chief executive.