Morning Coffee: Top traders leave RBS as it becomes apparent that new CEO will know little about investment banking

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Ever since Stephen Hester announced his departure in June, RBS has been in limbo wondering who will replace him. Now, it seems that headhunter Anna Mann and her team have done their stuff. According to the Telegraph, a new RBS CEO could be announced as early as next week.

So far, so good. Less good - from an RBS investment banker's point of view - is the fact that none of the names touted as a replacement for Hester seems to know much at all about investment banking.

Top of the list of external candidates was reportedly Mark McCombe, head of Asian operations at BlackRock, the fund management firm. A fitness fanatic who believes that everyone in his team should 'take part in a lot of sport,' McCombe previously spent 20 years at HSBC, which isn't known for being a go-getting investment bank. There, he specialized in private banking and asset management. Despite being Mann's alleged favourite external candidate, McCombe is said to have turned down the RBS CEO role anyway.

With McCombe out of the running, second in Mann's list of favoured external candidates is reportedly David Roberts, deputy chairman at Lloyds, who's spent a long time working at Barclays - in retail and commercial banking roles. The closest Roberts has come to investment banking seems to be asset financing.

If Roberts doesn't get the top RBS job, there are also a few internal candidates. They include: Ross McEwan, head of the retail bank, Bruce van Saun, RBS’s finance director, and Chris Sullivan, head of the corporate bank. There are no investment bankers anywhere near the list. Worse, McEwan - the retail banker - is said to be the favourite.

In the circumstances, RBS's senior traders seem to be reading the writing on the wall. Financial News points out that many are leaving. Ian Hale, deputy head of inflation trading, resigned last week and has nipped off to Citigroup. Other resignations include Mark Olson, the head of high yield research who went to Morgan Stanley, or Adrian Pegg, a distressed trader who went to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. If McEwan is appointed CEO of RBS next week, there be many more such trader departures from RBS to come.


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