RBS pulls marketing support for “sweetener” deals

Royal Bank of Scotland is to pull advertising for offers such as zero balance transfers to entice credit card customers to switch straight away following the decision to offer existing customers the same incentives as prospective customers. 

RBS CEO says ads for products he “can no longer support” will be pulled.

Earlier today (27 February) the Natwest and RBS brand owner said it will be putting an end to “sweeteners” such as balance transfer offers and stop offering customers applying for new services online incentives not offered to those applying in-branch.

In a speech explaining the move in London, chief executive Ross McEwan said the promotion of such offers would end with immediate effect.

“As I speak, our staff are preparing to make these changes. In the coming days we will be taking down the marketing material and cancelling the advertising for products I can no longer support. These changes are happening now and I will update you on our progress throughout the year.”

McEwan made the comments in a speech outlining measures it hopes will move it from being the “least trusted” bank in the UK to the “most trusted” by 2020.

The bank said the reputational damage from the negative headlines it has suffered since it was bailed out by the Government in 2008 has been a major obstacle to growth .

McEwan pointed out in a document detailing the new strategy that the lack of trust customers have in its group brand is holding its individual brands back from deepening their relationship with customers. 

He added in the document: “The opportunity cost of our current approach is clear. We have an 18 per cent share of the GB main current account market but less than half our customers have a mortgage with us.

“The same is true in different forms across all our businesses and paints a clear picture of untapped potential. I know this frustrates our people, all of whom want to prove the worth of this bank through better service to customers.”

To this end, the banking group it is to step up efforts to incentive staff on the service they deliver and not the value of the products they sell.

“In our UK high street bank, and the operations that support it, I want to see everyone measured and rewarded for what they do for customers. We must improve current arrangements to improve trust,” McEwan said in the London speech.

In a further attempt to drive the culture change, the bank is restructuring to reduce the number of business divisions from seven to three – personal and business banking, commercial and corporate banking.

Marketing will sit within the personal and business banking division, which will be overseen by Les Matheson, a former marketer who joined RBS in 2010 as managing director of products.

A spokeswoman for RBS said it was “too early to say” what impact the restructure would have on the marketing function. 

RBS posted a £8.2bn loss for its last full financial year due to restructuring costs and fines for misconduct. Despite the loss and the on-going reduction in the size of its wholesale banking business, it still paid £576m in bonuses in its last financial year, down 15 per cent on the previous year.   


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