Hello and welcome to the Fides Weekly Update. Take a look at this week’s key trends, moves and developments in legal and compliance.
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1. RBS back on track and set for a solid 2018
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) made a number of headlines this week, from passing the Bank of England’s (BofE) stress tests through to finally ridding itself of its pile of toxic assets. With 2018 presenting a positive forecast for the Scottish bank, next year could potentially mark its first profit posting since 2007.
On Tuesday this week, the BofE revealed that all seven of the UK’s lenders passed its stress tests for 2017, with RBS significantly improving its capital positions since this time last year. Although RBS emerged as one of the weaker lenders the results were better than expected, and the BofE passed the bank, saying it has “sufficient capital to meet the standard set by the test.”
Meanwhile, RBS also announced this week that its “bad bank” has come to end. The curtain has been drawn on the Capital Resolution division, which was created to manage the bank’s toxic assets, lumping the bank with £50bn worth of cumulative losses. Clearing up these loans has drawn a line under one of the biggest ever financial restructurings, which saw RBS’s balance sheet shrink by two thirds from £2.2 trillion in 2008 to £752bn this year.
Following this, the Edinburgh-based bank is set to close a further 259 branches across the UK, in an attempt reduce costs and shed roughly 680 jobs. This will leave the bank with 744 branches, as it aims to encourage its customers to shift to online banking.
“Since 2014 the number of customers using our branches across the UK has fallen by 40 per cent and mobile transactions have increased by 73 per cent over the same period. Over 5m customers now use our mobile banking app and one in five only bank with us digitally,” said RBS.
RBS has claimed to be reinvesting the capital gained from branch closures into its digital banking offering. Aiming to lead the charge on innovation in the banking industry, RBS is focusing heavily on its online platform and digitalised services. It recently went live with its first investment robo-advisor, and this week, the head of innovation engineering at RBS Richard Crook spoke at the London Blockchain Summit 2017 to discuss the banks advancements in blockchain technology.
There is a rising fear in the retail banking market of falling behind the curve, and incumbents run a risk of losing market share. Many banks, such as RBS however, are planning to take advantage of their more established services, and combine this with collaboration with fintech start-ups, to maintain their status in retail banking and respond to the demand of its customers.
Movers & Shakers of the week
Bupa legal director Alison Gammon will join Aviva as its general counsel, replacing former legal head Monica Risam
Jeffrey Koppele is set to join Ashurst from Dentons’ New York office, as the firm also promotes tax counsel Sharon Kim to partner in New York.
Allen & Overy’s former senior partner David Morley has been appointed to the ‘strategic advisory board’ of Indian law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas
Naomi Vary and Karen Morrish will both become partners in RPC’s insurance practice. They join from US firm Sedgwick as the firms continues with plans for closure
Elaine Williams has left her role as general counsel for British Land and joined UK logistics company Eddie Stobart as its legal director and company secretary
Sidley Austin has hired two private equity lawyers from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in London. Counsel Wim De Vlieger and associate Till Lefranc will both become partners in Sidley’s London office
Office Openings & Closings