RBS looks to replicate Barclays’ reputation turnaround as it hires David Wheldon as CMO

RBS has appointed Barclays’ David Wheldon to the newly created role of chief marketing officer as it looks to become the most trusted bank by 2020 by changing customer perceptions.


When Wheldon takes up the role in July he will be responsible for all brand, marketing, communication and corporate responsibility for RBS and will report to chief executive Ross McEwan. He will also become a member of the Executive Committee.

While a Barclays spokesperson told Marketing Week the company has nothing to announce regarding a replacement for Wheldon, the bank said: “David leaves Barclays with our best wishes and has done an excellent job during his time here.”

Having most recently lead brand, reputation, citizenship and marketing for Barclays, Wheldon has been monumental in turning around brand reputation for the bank following the LIBOR rigging scandal, something the NatWest and RBS brand owner will be looking to replicate as it looks to turn around its own reputation.

“The creation of this position sends a clear message about how we want to do business and backs up our intent to move the bank on to a new footing,” said RBS chief executive McEwan.

“Last year we set out on a clear path to make RBS the number one bank for customer service, trust and advocacy and have already made progress in becoming a simpler and fairer bank that puts the needs of customers at the core of everything we do.”

A year ago, the state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group unveiled its ambition of being the most trusted bank by 2020 by changing consumer perceptions and better serving customers.

The measures introduced included an end to so-called “sweetener deals”, incentives made to prospective customers not offered to existing customers, as well as a push for redesigned branches to include WiFi and iPads to allow customers to do online banking in-store.

The new plan was part of a long-term journey for the company to realign its business following a taxpayer bailout in 2008, having since been significantly owned by the UK government.

Although some progress is evident, there is still a long way to go.

While speaking on the company’s latest financial results, McEwan claimed RBS’ Net Promoter Scores (NPS), the company’s lead customer metric based on how likely consumers are to recommend the bank to a friend, are showing improvements, with scores for its personal banking business at -13 at the end of 2014, up from -16 in 2013. It also saw a rise to -23 from -38 in its business banking division.

However, the score for NatWest only rose by one point to six from five in personal banking and remained flat at -11 for business banking.

BrandIndex scores from YouGov as of 10 March showed that although the overall Index score for Royal Bank of Scotland had improved by 9.2 points year on year, the brand still came in at 27th on the list of banks, the same position as a year ago.

Its reputation ranking has also stayed the same, though its score has also risen by 14.9.

Meanwhile, the Index score for NatWest was up 12 ranks to the eighth spot on the list year on year, with its reputation up nine ranks to number seven.

Moving forward, the bank is targeting a rise in score in every UK customer franchise by offering customers a “more resilient and reliable service”, though McEwan said it will be a “long road for steady improvement”

On his appointment, Wheldon said: “A great amount of the groundwork to rebuild trust and reputation has been done and I am really looking forward to helping to play a role in ensuring that our customers are the most satisfied and loyal in the sector.”

Wheldon has previously held roles as global brand director at Vodafone and global director and VP of advertising at Coca-Cola. He has also held agency roles at Lowe Howard-Spink as managing director and as president of BBDO Europe.

In March, he was also appointed as president of The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) for the next two years.


Brand audit: RBS

Alison Millington

A year ago, the state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group unveiled its ambition of being the most trusted bank by 2020. Although some progress is evident, there is still a long way to go.