Interview: RBS group FD Bruce Van Saun

by Gavin Hinks

More from this author

24 Feb 2012

  • Comments
Bruce Van Saun

YOU GET THE FEELING that Bruce Van Saun works hard to avoid thinking too much about the past. His agenda as group finance director of RBS, Britain’s most controversial bank, is the here and now and the next couple of years; in short, the rest of the time covering the five-year plan to resuscitate RBS after its dalliance with collapse. When he talks, Van Saun keeps the focus on the test that rebuilding RBS presents to its executives.

“I don’t think I’d be attracted to something that was a maintenance job, where it’s clipping coupons or without a lot of change agenda associated with it,” he says.

Accountancy Age's sister publication Financial Director meets Wall Street veteran Van Saun three years after arriving at RBS. We need little reminding of the trouble in which the bank found itself when he arrived. Reportedly with just days to go before total insolvency in 2008, RBS, along with Lloyds, was bailed out to the tune of £20bn and effectively privatised by the UK government. The state now owns 82% of the bank. Its then chief executive, Fred Goodwin, has departed and faced public vilification ever since. A new board is now in charge, the business model has been completely redrawn and thousands of staff have lost their jobs.

After 25 years on Wall Street, Van Saun took the job following a telephone conversation with new CEO Stephen Hester which, he says, went something like: “How would you like to join me on the biggest turnaround on the planet?” Van Saun blithely adds the offer had “a certain attraction to it”.

He arrived in London in October 2009 after spending eight weeks discussing the job and going over the bank’s numbers. He had, at that time, spent just over a year advising private equity and before that 11 years with the Bank of New York Mellon where he had served in several posts, finishing as CFO and vice chairman. He was instrumental in bedding down the merger that created the bank and in transforming it from a regional player to a globally recognised force. He also had spells with a small collection of financial institutions; his only other job outside of Wall Street was with food giant General Mills, makers of Cheerios and Häagan-Dazs ice cream.

For the full Financial Director interview click here

 

Visitor comments

blog comments powered by Disqus
display:none

Add your comment

We won't publish your address


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms & Conditions

Your comment will be moderated before publication

Submit
  • Send
charity-commission


Head of Finance - Custome Service
EE, London, Permanent, Full Time

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Newsletters

Get the latest financial news sent directly to your inbox

  • Best Practice
  • Business
  • Daily Newsletter
  • Essentials

Careers

Search for jobs
Click to search our database of all the latest accountancy roles

Create a profile
Click to set up your profile and let the best recruiters find you

Jobs by email
Sign up to receive regular updates with the latest roles suitable for you

Briefings

budget-management

Why budgeting fails: One management system is not enough

If budgeting is to have any value at all, it needs a radical overhaul. In today's dynamic marketplace, budgeting can no longer serve as a company's only management system; it must integrate with and support dedicated strategy management systems, process improvement systems, and the like. In this paper, Professor Peter Horvath and Dr Ralf Sauter present what's wrong with the current approach to budgeting and how to fix it.

cchcover

iXBRL: Taking stock. Looking forward

In this white paper CCH provide checklists to help accountants and finance professionals both in practice and in business examine these issues and make plans. Also includes a case study of a large commercial organisation working through the first year of mandatory iXBRL filing.