Economics of Independence Pensions

RBS CEO tells staff: Zero RBS job losses when Scotland votes YES

Leaked RBS staff letter confirms Treasury was scaremongering.

Yesterday, to coincide with the Prime Minister’s panicked visit to Scotland, a Treasury source released information to the BBC regarding RBS and Lloyds Bank.  Besides the incredible sight of Westminster trying to interfere in company operations, the trouble with such interference is that the companies have to clarify the misinformation.  This has forced the CEO of RBS to write a letter apologising to his staff for hearing the story in the media first and to explain categorically that they have no intention to move jobs or operations.

It makes the situation crystal clear.

Letter from Ross McEwan, RBS Chief Executive to staff 

Dear colleagues

We have today made a statement to the market (see below), providing information on our contingency planning in the event of a Yes vote in next week’s referendum on Scottish independence. As you will have seen over the last twenty four hours, other Scottish headquartered financial institutions have made public statements about their intentions. This served to fuel media speculation about our own plans, and in those circumstances, it became necessary for us to update the market on aspects of our contingency planning.

It is my view as Chief Executive that any decision to move our registered headquarters should have no impact on everyday banking services used by our customers in Scotland and the rest of the British Isles. This is a technical procedure regarding the location of our registered head office. It is not an intention to move operations or jobs.

Our current business in Scotland, including the personal and business bank, IT and operations, human resources and many other functions, are here because of the skills and knowledge of our people, and the sound business environment. So far, I see no reason why this would change should we implement our contingency plans.

It is always my aim to ensure we inform our staff about such issues at the earliest opportunity. I know many of you will have already heard about this first in the media. My apologies for that, on this occasion this was unavoidable.

Over the next week, and beyond, we will continue to update you whenever appropriate.

Ross McEwan

Chief Executive

Business for Scotland Comment

Ok so RBS are scenario planning, that means that if they need to they will re-register (a paper exercise) so that if they go bust again the Bank of England pick up the tab and not the Scottish people.  There will be no job losses or operations transferred – not much of a scare story!

We believe there will be a currency union and that Scotland’s financial sector will thrive with independence and that even the paper exercise of re-registering will not be required.

As Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Asset said today, “An independent Scotland would be a great success.”  And Sir Angus Grossart, Chair of Edinburgh bank Nobel Grossart, who said that the referendum’s impact on market instability has been “severely overstated”. He continued “To hear some of the comments you almost expect people to be predicting a plague of locusts or mice next.”

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About the author

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the Founder and Chief Executive of Business for Scotland. Before becoming CEO of Business for Scotland Gordon ran a business strategy and social media, sales & marketing consultancy.

With a degree in business, marketing and economics, Gordon has worked as an economic development planning professional, and in marketing roles specialising in pricing modelling and promotional evaluation for global companies (including P&G).

Gordon benefits (not suffers) from dyslexia, and is a proponent of the emerging New Economics School. Gordon contributes articles to Business for Scotland, The National and Believe in Scotland.


  • watching the andrew marr show this morning and after tommy sheridan had his say in the debate it made my mind up what side to vote for usually he is quick and cuts people down but could only manage to agree with tommy about the bbc and how its been very biased and not reported about oil and reports that have been carried out from 2 yrs ago to 1 that was done back in june which was from professor of the no side. His findings were scotland would prosper even without the oil and faired even better in one back in june which bbc delibertly swept it under carpet as it would be damning to no campaign

  • If the RBS and all other business carry out their threat and relocate their headquarters to London, how does the corporate tax work in regards to this? Do they pay any business conducted in Scotland to the Scottish Exchequer or does it all go to England

    • All Scottish Government projections on corporation tax in GERS are based on activity in Scotland – corporation tax is paid where the activity takes place not where the administrative HQ is. We believe there will be an official currency union and shared central bank so there will be no administrative move required.

      • We believe there will be a currency union ! No you are praying there will be a currency union but lets be honest you can’t say for sure , then what if the rest of the UK say no.

        • I have always said that other options can be made to work for Scotland there is even a case that others can be better for Scotland – the currency union is not prayed for but common sense as it works for all the countries of the current UK after Scotland votes YES. On the 19th you will see moves towards business and Westminster politicians softening and looking to negotiate but if i am wrong it will not be worse for Scotland than a NO vote.

      • Please do not forget most of RBS business is transacted outside of Scotland. (NATWEST was / is a massive English bank) RBS FM is London, NYC and APAC ect..Would Scotland accrue these corporate taxes

        • It doesn’t now all corporation and employee taxation for RBS for example in the GERS accounts is for Scotland only – such taxes are paid where the activity takes place not where the head office is.

  • I’m confused. Why would RBS feel the need to register in London, rUK? What would be gained from this “technical procedure”? And I’m confused by the word “activity”…an independent Scotland would have paid the same contribution to bailing out the banks as it did as part of the UK – how would this have been be different if, for example, RBS was registered in London?

    • It is a regulatory EU requirement that financial institutions are domiciled in the country in which they do most business.

      RBS and Lloyd’s have little chice in the matter.

      • I should add that my only source for this was an article in the FT back in July where they dissected a report on the banking consequences of Scottish independence produced by economists from the Swiss bank UBS.
        It is possible that either the FT’s attribution of the claim was in error or that the UBS economists were in error.
        Coroboration would be advisable and I would be interested to see that myself.

  • I get really tired of banks and businesses who insist in talking Scotland down when it comes to independence. Are these people so insecure that they cannot see that change can be a good thing and those who grasp opportunity generally prosper by the experience. Independence is no different, life is all about the challenge, given that there is no such thing as a sure thing. Being part of the union has exposed us to the costs associated with an over stretched foreign policy, boom and bust economics, credit crunches, bank collapses and let us not forget the obscene legacy of a deficit that amounts to some 1.2 trillion pounds. Call me old fashioned, but that sounds like a bit ofa disaster to me and what’s even worst is all these same captains of finance and industry telling us that we are”Better Together” and with the Union we can share the pain during hard times. Well I don’t see many bankers, Oil magnates or Supermarket bosses feeling the pinch, it’s always the ordinary man or woman in the street that suffers.

    This referendum is about Scots creating a better society for all the people of Scotland, now unfortunately we’ll always need bankers and captains of industry, but I want them working hard for Scotland to help give us all the things in life that our citizens deserve. So if it’s such an affront to the beliefs of these businesses then let them go south, because regardless of political persuation or financial ambition, Scotland’s future prosperity will depend upon all sectors of society contributing and working together, not acting recklessly to pollute the debate with unsubstantiated speculation which only denies Scots the right to a fair and balanced democratic process to make a proper informed choice. We can do better than this and these same business leaders should be talking up our future with a dynamism which guarantees our countries success regardless of the result of the referendum.

    • thank you and we send you best wishes a Glasgow Celtic supporter also..go Barcelona lol

  • is there any Scottish banks that are Scottish not with English telling them wot to do totally disgusted with rbs

    • Totally disgusted with RBS for taking British tax payers money to bail them out and continuing to pay themselves bonuses when the majority of the aforementioned British tax payers were going without payrises or losing their jobs altogether…

  • Hardly the best of both worlds. These types of ‘announcement’ only serve the interests of the ‘Better Together’ campaign by attempting to scare the undecided voters into the belief that independence will signal a slow drain of large organisations away from Scotland, no matter what the orgs try to fit into the small print of the announcement or, for that matter, what anti ‘Yes’ spin the media add to them. What’s particularly galling is the fact that the BBC, including BBC Scotland, is a mong some of the worst offenders.
    I’m amazed that there hasn’t been an on-line petition, aimed at these large scaremongering organisations, of Scots who will move their custom, money accounts etc. away from the scaremongers and over to those organisations that have been honest enough to say there is no reason to change ANYTHING, following a Yes vote and that they will be happy to remain or be registered in Scotland.
    Also, if the referendum is to be the voice of the people, where’s that voice now when it’s needed, to let these companies know that if they have supported the ‘Better Together’ campaign by threatening to ‘leave Scotland’ that, NO MATTER WHAT THE RESULT IS, supporters of independence will take their custom elsewhere.

  • So it’s a good thing large businesses like RBS view an independent Scotland in such negative terms that they’re explicitly telling us they’ll leave if there’s a Yes vote? This is something the Yes side explicitly told us wouldn’t happen – to the extent of accusing anyone who mentioned it of “scaremongering”. Now it happens and our only response is to hide behind some inoffensive staff letter saying there won’t be immediate job losses.

    And that’s just one company. If it’s true for RBS it’s true for many others. Simple question, but if independence is so great for business why are companies leaving for England in the first place?

    • They are absolutely not saying they will leave – leaving is one scenario but only in technical terms not in job or operations terms. the most likely scenario is that they will stay both jobs die and registration wise as there will be no need for them to re-register elsewhere.

    • It’s only their registered office that they are moving to England, the business will remain as it is. A company can have their registered office in Land’s End and their business in John o Groats, makes hee haw difference.

      • Thats a fair point but they are not even planning to re-register in England they are saying that they are planning for a scenario if they need to. There are scenarios where they would find it would be their plan to keep their registration in Scotland – a currency union for certain why would they do the admin change?

      • “A company can have their registered office in Land’s End and their business in John o Groats, makes hee haw difference.”

        Because they are currently in the same Country. That might not be the case after a Yes vote. Everyone seems to assume there’ll be no difference. If that’s the case, why vote in the first place? The arguments don’t make sense.

        • RBS CEO says registration makes he haw difference to jobs in Scotland – however if the negotiations go the way that would create the best mutual benefit for the RUK and an independent Scotland there will be no need for people to change the postcode of their registration.

  • The existence of “lender of last resort” is a very significant factor in the astonishing risk taking that occurred in banks and creating the recession. The way it works is that when it all goes wrong tax payer picks up the tab, and the perpetrators gambling with other people’s money leave with bonuses intact and excellent pensions.

  • No problem with that.
    RBS can move their head office to Baghdad if they wish since most of their operations are outside the Scottish boundary. Get a feeling however that as soon as the country takes off in its own right as a free and Independent Nation ..they will be back in a flash.

    • Upset by RBS or Lloyds? Well change your bank. Here is a draft letter you can amend/use. ‘Following today’s news that that RBS will be relocating its headquarters to England in the event of a Yes vote in the Independence referendum, I am planning to move my account to another bank. When I moved to Scotland in …. I set up my account with RBS precisely because it was based in Scotland. The fact that this may no longer be the case has forced me to reconsider my banking provision. Even if RBS stays in Scotland I consider this announcement an indication of its instability of purpose. I am also unhappy with what seems to me an attempt to bully RBS customers and staff into voting No in the referendum. It is not the business of banks to interfere in the democratic process.’….. Apparently Santander are a pretty competent alternative… do I have any Standard Life investments..

      • Well said! I wrote a note yesterday to RBS my bank but not for longer, making a similar point
        I am appalled by these interfering statements a week before the vote!

  • Best of both worlds for Scotland – Jobs remain whilst any future risk relating to a bank collapse at RBS now clearly sits within the rUK and does not expose an Independent Scotland’s economy to contagion.

    • Best of both worlds? Are you sure? It says there independent Scotland wants a currency union, in which case they are liable for any bank collapse.

      So which is it? No currency union and banks move to England, meaning no losses if they go bust but also Scotland gets to share the tax revenues. Or currency union, meaning share the profits but share the risk? I’d like this clarified.

      It’s a big industry to lose, even if the jobs stay.

      • We won’t lose them there will be a currency union and just as no company abandoned Scotland because we voted for devolution (we were told they would) none will leave because we vote yes.

          • I can say with al confidence that I think it is more certain than uncertain, when you look at the facts not to agree one could be damaging for the rest of the UK. Other currency options could be made to work for Scotland but not for the rest of the UK. No one can categorically say there won’t be one unless they are the type to believe everything Westminster politicians say in the middle of a campaign -and that would just be daft.

            I made up my own mind and my support for a currency union pre-dates the Scottish Government taking this position. You can read more here

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