The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has kicked off a review of its 400-strong legal team to control costs and drive efficiencies, a move that could potentially lead to staff redundancies.
It is not yet clear how many roles will be affected by the review. The process will be carried out over the summer by new RBS general counsel (GC) Michael Shaw. Shaw, the former Barclays deputy GC and a Herbert Smith partner, took on one of the UK’s most prominent in-house legal roles in April after his predecessor John Collins departed for Santander UK to become its director of legal, compliance, regulatory affairs and anti-money laundering. RBS has already begun grouping its litigation and compliance functions together under the leadership of GC for litigation, Will Luker.
In March it emerged the bank had cut almost 1,600 jobs across the business as part of a major drive to cut costs. The job cuts to RBS’s then 64,100-strong UK workforce mainly affected back-office and middle-office positions, including support and technology services for frontline staff.
In the bank’s annual earnings statement in February, chief executive Ross McEwan warned that a further £800m of cost savings will be made in 2016. This potential restructuring of the legal team follows eight successive years of net annual losses at RBS, which have amounted to more than £50bn since the financial crisis began.
RBS has seen a host of senior legal departures in the last few years, with deputy GC Rushad Abadan having joined insurer Standard Life as its GC at the start of this year. The British banking giant also lost its EMEA head of financial crime, Carolina Garces-Monterrubio, to HSBC at the start of the 2015.
RBS refused to comment.