Anyone else might have got away with it. Unfortunately, for him, this is not yet a bank to which the City is minded to give the benefit of the doubt. Two years ago when Mr Wanless's job was on the line after a black hole emerged in the former NatWest Markets derivatives book, it rediscovered its old image as the action bank. NatWest Markets was sold and the bank announced an impressive five year retail transformation plan to get processing out of the bank branch and into specialist centres where it could be done more cheaply and effectively. Now the immediate threat has receded, the foot seems to have come off the gas. The bank is no longer on the sick list, but its rehabilition still has a way to go. At this stage in the recovery, it ought to have been announcing fresh cost reduction targets rather than encouraging the idea that it is about to go out and buy a life insurance business.
After yesterday's figures, the Royal Bank of Scotland might think of giving up on Barclays, which has now plugged the chief executive gap, and switch its predatory attentions to NatWest. It is a cruel world, and Mr Wanless is not out of the woods yet.Reuse content