David Wheldon retires as RBS Group set to be renamed NatWest Group

Wheldon leaves at end of March after career spanning 37 years in advertising and marketing.

Wheldon: has worked at both agencies and brands
Wheldon: has worked at both agencies and brands

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is to become NatWest Group as the company repositions itself as a purpose-led business.

The company, which made the announcement this morning (Friday) as part of its annual financial results for 2019, said the move will not impact its brands, including NatWest, which accounts for 80% of its customer base, and RBS. There will also be no job losses.

Taking place later this year, the change will also see chief marketing officer David Wheldon retire and leave the bank at the end of March. RBS Group said it will begin an internal and external search for his replacement.

Wheldon joined the group in 2015 and has worked with the executive team to turn around the company after years of losses and a bailout by the UK government in 2008.

RBS Group posted 2019 operating profit before tax of £4.2m, up 26% year on year.

Under his tenure, Wheldon worked with M&C Saatchi on NatWest advertising but a few months ago moved the account to The & Partnership. Wheldon has been part of Campaign's Power 100 list of top marketers for several years. 

Wheldon’s career spans 37 years in advertising and marketing roles. He began as an account executive at Saatchi & Saatchi in 1983, working his way up to group account director. He became managing director of Lowe Howard-Spink in 1989 and then moved client-side to become vice-president, global director of advertising, at Coca-Cola.

In 1997, Wheldon was named president of BBDO Europe and later became chief executive of Team Vodafone at WPP in 2002. He then moved to the telecoms business as global director of brand. Wheldon later joined Barclays as head of brand, reputation and citizenship, before moving to RBS in 2015.

NatWest Group’s new strategy

The group’s chief executive, Alison Rose, also revealed a new strategy around purposefulness: enterprise, learning and climate.

She wants the company to help start-ups and the barriers people face when setting them up. Around learning, the business has pledged to "improve financial capability and confidence" for customers and set up a "dynamic learning culture" for staff.

Rose also said that there’s a role that the bank can play in "accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy". She plans to make the business' operations net carbon zero in 2020 and climate positive by 2025.

The new strategy is based on core values of being honest and fair with customers and suppliers; a good citizen; a guardian for future generations; and a responsible and responsive employer.

In a letter to shareholders, Rose wrote: "We, like our customers, are living in a period of unprecedented disruption – whether it is the struggle to get on the housing ladder or starting a business, the rapid growth of disruptive technology, an ageing population, the emergence of the gig economy or the existential impact of climate change.

"The way people live is changing and their expectations of companies are changing too. I firmly believe, in response, we have to adopt a new approach that moves away from a view that is defined by products and transactions, and uses the strength of the relationships we have with all of our stakeholders as the real test of our progress."

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