RBS chief demands more SME interaction » SMEInsider

RBS chief demands more SME interaction

Alison Rose, CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) Private and Commercial sector, has ordered senior managers to visit two or three SMEs a week to determine what their customers need from their bank.

RBS is one of the UK’s biggest lenders to small and microbusinesses, and despite some recent controversy, Rose is determined that RBS improves its relationship with small business owners.

‘‘I make all of my executive committee and myself own customer relationships, because it is important to stay connected with businesses,” stated Rose in an interview with The Telegraph.

Part of her relationship with small businesses is to offer a helping hand with their financial decisions, including whether they should apply for a business loan.

‘‘I think if you’re an executive and you’re not spending time with customers, you become completely disconnected from what the business is all about.’’

‘‘The whole point is, banks forgot what they were there for – if you only ever see things through the filter of a large corporate, you don’t get a real feel, whereas if you go and sit down with a customer, they are not shy about saying, ‘I don’t like this’ or ‘there is a problem here.’’’

RBS has encountered a number of legal problems as of late, including mis-selling interest rate products to SME’s, which has resulted in RBS handing out millions in compensation.

The bank has recently hired external advisers in order to investigate how it treats small businesses.

A scandal of this magnitude has affected the banks relationship with its small business customers, something the Rose is determined to rectify.

‘‘I think we’ve got a long way to go in improving customer service and the trust and the advocacy,’’ stated Rose, who is making sure that the banks 3500 ‘relationship managers’ go on a training course that will improve their customer skills.

It is not just its relationship with SMEs that RBS has to rebuild. After selling its 5.4 per cent share for £2.1bn, Chancellor George Osborne has stated that RBS needs ‘‘to rebuild itself as a commercial bank, no longer reliant on the state, but serving the working people of Britain.’’