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Outgoing RBS chief heads to troubled Australian bank

Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan will take the top job at National Australia Bank.

The move follows the resignation of NAB’s former leader, Andrew Thorburn, in the wake of the nation’s Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

While NAB is headquartered in Melbourne, it has not yet been announced where the role will be based.

McEwan – originally from New Zealand – previously worked in Sydney at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 2003 before heading its retail banking division in 2007.

He then moved to lead RBS after failing to secure the role of chief executive at CBA.

RBS posted losses for four years under McEwan’s leadership following ongoing difficulties stemming back to the Global Financial Crisis.

Money Marketing revealed in February that the bank is still set to pay out up to £206m in costs to cover two FCA investigations into its provision of investment advice pre and post-RDR.

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The bank recently returned to profit for the first time since the global financial crisis, but McEwan announced his intention to resign in April.

Commenting on his appointment at NAB, McEwan says: “Now feels like the right time for me to step aside for a new CEO to lead the bank.”

NAB, alongside CBA and Australia’s other big banks Westpac and ANZ, remains in the spotlight following numerous fees-for-no-service scandals uncovered in the Royal Commission.

NAB was also implicated in impropriety in foreign exchange trading and singled out by RC commissioner Kenneth Hayne as the only big Australian bank whose executives showed little actionable remorse for its various scandals.

McEwan’s appointment at NAB is subject to regulatory approval and expected to begin in April 2020. It will also see interim chief executive Philip Chronican transition to the role of NAB chair in mid-November, replacing Ken Henry.


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