RBS Appointments Viv Ahmun Special Advisor
Last month I was appointed as one of several advisors to the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). I think it was indirectly as a consequence of my 30-year career of playing my small part in developing and reviewing the policy systems and processes that enable the day-to-day workings of our society to mesh together and flow somewhat haphazardly much of the time but none-the-less allowing daily life in all of its aspects to happen.
Since 2010 (with the 2008 financial crash still unfolding and a year before the 2011 summer of civil unrest when the rest of the world watched the UK’s major cities burn) my life-long interest in ethical leadership and how it plays out in social policy has increasingly focused on the practices of those in the financial services and the rapidly mutating tech sectors. It is through these sectors that the nature and quality of life for the rest of us is increasingly determined; so it was a pleasant surprise to be offered the advisory role at RBS, not least because of the part that the RBS Group played in the 2008 credit crunch, and it was a pleasure to accept the position.
For those of you who have not been following global financial events over the last decade let me refresh your memory because the shock waves from the 2008 credit crunch is still impacting us today.
In August 2008 the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) reported its first loss in 40 years with a half year loss of 691 million pounds. In September 2008 Lehman Brothers collapsed, unleashing a wave of stock market bedlam. In October 2008 the Government announced the bailout for RBS and other high street banks with billions of pounds of tax payer’s money; it was the year that confidence in British Banking died.
Fast forward to 2019 and for many it is almost as if it never happened. The Government-more specifically we the people-still own approximately 64.4% of RBS which itself is worth approximately 38 billion pounds. The government spent £137 billion bailing out UK Banks by buying their shares. Most of this has been paid back and around £27 billion is still outstanding. Around £1 trillion worth of financial guarantees were provided to investors—but these were promises designed to restore confidence in the banks, not cash for spending.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that whilst I support the increased representation of black and other BAME professionals at senior positions within the established financial and other corporate institutions particularly at senior management and board room level, nothing matches my passion for stimulating small and medium sized enterprise development in an emerging 21st century tech sector that is black conceived, owned and driven.
I also think that it is important that those of us who are able to attain positions of influence, do our bit to contribute to the development of our own ‘social capital’ that is not predicated on nepotism. Enter Sandra Kerr CBE, who in her wisdom saw fit to put me forward for this position with RBS. I’d like to think she put my name forward not because of our friendship, but because she knows based on my track record that I will use my influence in that role to work with her and others to increase black representation at the highest levels of business enterprise both in the UK and globally. Thank you for being a thought leader in our community Sandra and not forgetting that you have a duty to hold the door open for those who are coming up behind you….