Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland fell today as the surprise departure of finance director Nathan Bostock was greeted with dismay in the City, adding to a catalogue of woes facing new boss Ross McEwan.
Bostock’s departure to take up a role with Santander UK was announced just two months after he began his RBS posting and only weeks after it unveiled plans to carve out an internal “bad bank” of £38bn problem assets.
It caps the latest turbulent period for the 80% state-owned bank, which in recent weeks has faced serious allegations over the way it has dealt with distressed business customers as well as the latest in a series of IT meltdowns.
Shares fell 2% as investors digested the impact of Bostock’s departure - described as “surprising and disappointing” by Shore Capital analyst Gary Greenwood.
Bostock, head of restructuring and risk at RBS for four years, was seen as a key part of the team striving to repair the bank under then-chief executive Stephen Hester.
Chairman Sir Philip Hampton said he had been “integral to the plan which restored safety and soundness to the bank following the 2008 banking crisis”.
He had been tipped as one of the favourites to succeed Hester when his departure was announced earlier this year, but was beaten to the job by McEwan, and instead was named finance director. Both men started their new roles on October 1.
But last night he informed the board of his intention to resign - though he will remain in position “to oversee an orderly handover”, the bank said.
McEwan described him as a “talented banker” and said he looked forward to competing with him.
Bostock will become chief risk officer and deputy chief executive to Ana Botin at Santander UK, amid speculation that he will be in line to replace her eventually and that the business will be floated on the stock market.
He spent eight years at Abbey National - which later became Santander UK - before joining Royal Bank of Scotland.
McEwan is carrying out a full review of RBS, due to report in February.
But he has been hit by recent setbacks, including an IT glitch last week that left customers unable to use debit or credit cards for a three-hour spell on what was expected to be the busiest online shopping day before Christmas.
Days later, its websites fell victim to a cyber attack which also affected some customers.
RBS has been beset by system failures, including a major meltdown last summer, and Mr McEwan admitted it had not invested properly for decades.
It has also come under fire over allegations that it drove distressed firms to collapse to buy back their assets at rock-bottom prices. The bank has hired a law firm to look into the claims, contained in a report by an adviser to Business Secretary Vince Cable.