Stephen Hester's letter to staff in full

Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester, who recently had to give up his bonus after intense political pressure, has written to staff. Here is his letter in full:

Dear Colleagues,

I am acutely conscious that the way our company has been in the media and political spotlight this last 10 days is discomforting to say the least. And while it has been personalised in different ways, whether on myself or my predecessor, many have felt a broader impact on RBS of the uncertainty and criticism.

The purpose of this message is simply to give you my perspective, and it is this:

  • RBS is full of good people, doing their best across a multiple set of challenges. We also support and are supported by many millions of loyal customers. We have good and enduring businesses. We matter to our customers and to society. That means our businesses have a positive future to look forward to. And those who drive them and serve our customers well day in, day out, do too. We should take strength and comfort from that and from each other.
  • We can't control the outside world - whether the economic environment or the political one. That's not unique to us. But if ever something has been proven over our last 3 years of history, it's this - we can successfully overcome great obstacles.
  • There is no doubt that our position in the spotlight makes the job harder. And we can't know how much damage that will do to RBS or the interests of those we serve, whether as customers or shareholders. But the best way to deal with it is to prove the critics wrong. To be purposeful, calm, and do our jobs to the best of our ability. And have confidence and pride in what we have done and what we can accomplish.
  • RBS is still in its loss making phase (1) which inevitably gives us communication challenges. The losses ironically are a measure of our recovery success. Over the last 3 years we have generated over £33 billion of pre-impairment profits from improving our Core businesses in the face of many challenges. This has allowed us to afford to take the costs of "clean up" from our risky inheritance, in loan losses, disposal costs and restructuring charges (£38 billion so far)(1). We are ahead of schedule in that clean-up; in fact we have been able to spend money and accelerate it as the outside environment got worse. RBS is a much safer company as a result.

None of us can know what the future holds. But what I do know is that this is a great company with great people making progress in the face of a difficult inheritance. We should try to be strong, to do our jobs, to deal with facts not fears. I, and we, have the full support of Philip and the Board in this endeavour, as Philip stated well on Friday.

Finally, we also need to keep broader perspective. Many people within RBS and in the wider economies we serve are facing uncertainties around jobs, earnings, housing values and many other things. None of us, individually or RBS as a whole, exists in a vacuum. We do need to keep in mind that bigger picture.

On a personal note, thank you to those many people who have given me messages of support in recent days. It's much appreciated.


(1) Based on results reported to date

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