At Royal Bank of Scotland's U.S. nerve center, morale is on the upswing amid steady hiring and a brand-new headquarters. That's in stark contrast to the UK parent firm, in which the British government still owns a majority stake and continues to squeeze down on compensation, perks and headcount.
GBM Americas, the U.S.-based investment banking division of RBS , grew its work force by 95 employees or 4 percent last year, Financial News reports, citing a presentation the bank gave investors on March 8. Globally, however, the division's work force shrank almost 10 percent last year and is down 22 percent since 2007.
Those new American hires get to work in an impresseve new headquarters: a $500 million, 11-story structure overlooking Route 95 in Stamford, Conn. The building's been in the making since 2006, long before the financial downturn that dragged RBS to a $35 billion loss in 2009 and a bailout by the UK government, which took an 84 percent stake in the bank.
RBS traders and bankers have relocated to the new building over the past year as the bank consolidated offices in New York, Stamford and Greenwich. The headquarters includes a rooftop terrace, a gym and RBS' second-largest trading center, and a trading floor as large as an aircraft hanger with capacity for 1,000 traders, according to the New York Times. About 900 traders worked there as of February.
For the U.S. work force, the facility has become "a source of pride and kind of a rallying cry," Robert McKillip, co-head of global banking and markets in the Americas, told the Times. The Americas division made $4.2 billion last year and had a post-tax return on equity of 35 percent.
While continuing to add staff in recent months, GBM Americas also plans to exit what it has deemed "non-core businesses" including asset management, leveraged finance and structured credit.