RBS lend­ing tar­gets ‘pro­mote risk-tak­ing’

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Iain Withers

ROYAL Bank of Scot­land has been ac­cused of pur­su­ing “un­re­al­is­tic” busi­ness lend­ing tar­gets that risk in­cen­tivis­ing reck­less lend­ing.

The tax­payer-owned bank, which is un­der in­tense po­lit­i­cal pres­sure to boost sup­port to the econ­omy, has set strict tar­gets for small and medi­um­sized en­ter­prise lend­ing to its around 800 lend­ing man­agers, who are each ex­pected to lend close to £2m a year.

Yet Unite says RBS has ad­mit­ted to the union that only around half are hit­ting this tar­get, with the rest put into per­for­mance man­age­ment, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of re­dun­dancy.

This has prompted con­cerns among staff that the bank is us­ing the regime to cut staff num­bers with­out hav­ing to pay vol­un­tary re­dun­dancy costs.

In anony­mous com­ments col­lected by Unite from RBS’S re­la­tion­ship man­agers, the name given to staff re­spon­si­ble for lend­ing to small com­pa­nies, staff com­plained of com­ing un­der “al­most in­tol­er­a­ble” pres­sure to ramp up lend­ing. The com­ments were pub­lished in a cir­cu­lar sent to Unite mem­bers at the bank and were seen by The

Sun­day Tele­graph. It also al­leges sick­ness lev­els re­lat­ing to stress at work had in­creased, while lend­ing man­agers of­ten had to put in 50-plus hour weeks “just to tread wa­ter”.

Rob Mac­gre­gor, na­tional of­fi­cer for Unite, told The Sun­day Tele­graph: “The tar­gets that are set are un­re­al­is­tic. There are too many fall­ing short for this to be an is­sue of com­pe­tency.

“There’s a danger the tar­gets en­cour­age dys­func­tional be­hav­iour given the threat of dis­ci­plinary ac­tion. It’s that kind of cul­ture that en­cour­aged mis­selling in the past and we’re keen to not re­turn to that.”

The union says it first raised con­cerns about the tar­gets in Jan­uary 2016. RBS has com­mit­ted to hold­ing reg­u­lar meet­ings with the union on the is­sues.

The news comes at a sen­si­tive time for RBS, which has come un­der pres­sure in re­cent months for its treat­ment of strug­gling firms af­ter the fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

A spokesman for RBS said: “We are en­gag­ing con­struc­tively with our em­ployee rep­re­sen­ta­tives as we im­prove our op­er­at­ing model, sim­pli­fy­ing pro­cesses for the ben­e­fit of cus­tomers and staff.

“We have a ro­bust frame­work for as­sess­ing the suit­abil­ity and af­ford­abil­ity of our prod­ucts – mak­ing sure that they are right for our cus­tomers.

“All our com­mer­cial de­ci­sions are made on that ba­sis.”

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