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Why RBS bankers are still sought after

Want to revive your company’s fortunes? Want to bring some sell-side insight into your investment boutique? Recruit an RBS banker.

Former RBS CEO Stephen Hester yesterday revealed a comparative revival in fortunes at RSA, the beleaguered insurance group he was tasked to turn around when appointed its CEO in February. The firm posted an interim pre-tax profit of £69m for the first half, following a £494m loss in the second half of last year.

Now it seems another embattled company, GlaxoSmithKline, is also headhunting from the C-suite of RBS. Media reports today suggest that Sir Philip Hampton, who’s been RBS chairman since 2009, is due to become GSK’s new chairman from next month. The British pharmaceutical company is currently embroiled in bribery scandal in China.

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Hester and Hampton’s unique leadership experiences in the politically-charged cauldron of RBS are in obvious demand, but other senior RBS bankers have also been hired of late. Six years after the start of the financial crisis, having the bailed-out bank on your resume is no career killer if you want to stay in the finance sector, especially if you want to work for a boutique firm. This is good news considering that RBS continues to cut jobs in capital markets, while what remains of its investment bank makes up just 11% of group profits.

Recent poaching from RBS into smaller institutions includes: Element Capital Management hiring Richard Tang, the bank’s head of North America; Candlewood Investment Group recruiting Jon Weiss, the former global head of RBS's special situations group; and Starwood Capital Group taking on Jeffrey DiModica, RBS’s head of mortgage and asset-backed sales and strategy.

Recruiters tell us that RBS rank-and-file staff are also sought after, but they say there’s a catch: while boutiques and corporate banks may snap you up, it’s tough to move from RBS into the bulge bracket. As we reported earlier this year, in investment-banking circles RBS is now considered to be very much “out of the pack” of elite employers.

“While the RBS brand may be tarnished in terms of its own recruitment and its staff may not get a job at Goldman, that doesn’t mean they aren’t in demand,” says one banking recruiter, who asked not to be named. “We still look to hire from RBS – if you’ve managed to add value in a bank like RBS during troubled times, many other firms will actually see that as a plus.”

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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