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RBS the number one bank for customers? Fat chance

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Royal Bank of Scotland has handed out shares worth up to £18.2 million for its top management

Royal Bank of Scotland has handed out shares worth up to £18.2 million for its top management

Royal Bank of Scotland has handed out shares worth up to £18.2 million for its top management

So, Ulster Bank parent RBS is closing 44 more bank branches, 14 of which are the 'last bank in town' – though none of the latest closures is in Northern Ireland.

What does that tell you about the bank? Does it underline its commitment to customers, as expressed by new boss, Ross McEwan, a few weeks ago?

At the end of February, he said he wanted to change things. Specifically, he expressed the intention to reverse the bank's position as "the least-trusted company in the least-trusted sector of the economy". (They were his words, by the way!)

He identified trust as being key to rebuilding the bank's battered brand. He predicted that by 2020 it will have reversed its position as Britain's most-despised bank. By then, it hopes to be "the number one bank for customer service and the most trusted bank in the UK".

I have two words for Mr McEwan: fat chance!

When he made his laudable but lofty ambitions public, I wrote in this column that I was prepared to give the bank another chance, especially if it fulfilled some of its promises to put customers first.

Yet again, I've been let down by the bank. I understand the need to shut down branches from time to time if they become uneconomic or demand disappears. But RBS – along with most of the other major banks – has made a commitment not to leave customers stranded.

RBS's move had provoked anger. Charlotte Webster, campaign director of Move Your Money, said: "RBS has consistently undermined the interests of its customers and wider society since being bailed out in 2008. Not only has the bank lost the £45bn that it was bailed out with, it's also driven businesses into the ground for its own profit.

"It's no surprise, then, to see the bank let down its customers once again by upping sticks and leaving town – even where it's promised not to do so."

Belfast Telegraph