Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

City Spy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

City Spy

Article excerpt

OH DEAR. Attempts by Royal Bank of Scotland management to make their staff, many of whom they inherited when they acquired National Westminster, feel a bit more involved appear to have backfired.

Half-hourly question-and-answer sessions in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh with Sir Fred Goodwin, group chief executive, and Benny Higgins, head of retail banking, to discuss the bank's performance have not yielded an overwhelmingly positive response. Some questions sent in advance of the gettogethers have been deemed too controversial by the top brass at RBS.

Among them: When the staff have performed to their maximum, and contributed to [estimated] record profits, why has the bank once again offered no pay rises to those who have achieved a Level 3 (the assessment rating for an employee who has done what is asked but has not excelled)? Why are the same people going to Vienna [on the annual jolly for those deemed to have added most to the business, supposedly meant as an incentive to frontline staff] as New York last year and is it a coincidence they are mostly either on the board or on the executive? Is Benny aware that a very senior executive in RBS/NatWest private banking was sent home by an official from compliance from their conference for making a 21-year-old cry because she wouldn't have after-hours drinks with him?

FIREWORKS too, at the forthcoming annual general meeting of troubled drug delivery company SkyePharma. A shareholder has given notice that he intends to pursue chief executive Mike Ashton with what, in cricket terminology, would be termed an awkward in-swinger: "In the absence of any news about the pulmonary package, company profitability or indeed any good news at all concerning SkyePharma, the share price is sliding again. I have one question for you, Mr Ashton: why are you still in your job? …

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