Ross McEwan

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Ross McEwan
Ross Maxwell McEwan

(1957-07-16) 16 July 1957 (age 62)
NationalityNew Zealand
EducationHastings Boys' High School, Hastings, New Zealand
Alma materMassey University
Harvard Business School
PredecessorStephen Hester
SuccessorAlison Rose
Spouse(s)Stephanie McEwan

Ross Maxwell McEwan CBE (born 16 July 1957[2]) is a New Zealand banker, and the chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of National Australia Bank.

He was previously the chief executive officer (CEO) of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), a FTSE 100 company,[3] from October 2013 to October 2019.

Early life and education[edit]

McEwan was educated at Hastings Boys' High School, Hastings, followed by Massey University, where he completed a degree in business studies and human resources, despite having failed an accountancy module twice.[4] He later earned a master in business administration from the Harvard Business School.[5]


McEwan's first top management position was as CEO of Axa New Zealand from 1996 to 2002.[2] He had spent the previous ten years at National Mutual New Zealand,[2] 51% acquired by Axa in 1995. McEwan was then appointed CEO of First NZ Securities, the stockbroking arm of First NZ Capital Securities,[2][6][7] the New Zealand affiliate of Credit Suisse Group.[8]

In 2003[2] McEwan was hired as group executive for retail banking services for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).[9] He had been expected to become the next CEO of CBA, but was passed over for the post in 2011.[10]

McEwan joined RBS in August 2012 as head of retail banking.[2]

CEO of RBS[edit]

McEwan was appointed CEO of RBS in October 2013. It was expected that he would move the bank away from investment banking and reduce its international exposure, to focus more on UK retail banking.[6]

In February–March 2014, McEwan attracted press coverage for his view that "free banking" (no current account charges for customers in credit) would have to end sooner or later, and that this would in turn lead to greater transparency from the banks about how they funded their operations.[9]

On 25 February 2015, RBS announced that McEwan would forgo a share award worth £1m saying that he did not want his pay package to "be a distraction from the task of building a great bank". He is still expected to be paid £2.7m despite turning down the award. The announcement came the day before the bank, which is 80% owned by the UK government, was due to release annual results widely expected to be disappointing following a series of fines by banking regulators for failures including for failing to stop manipulation of the foreign exchange market.[11]

In 2018 McEwan was requested by the Treasury Committee in the United Kingdom to explain how RBS's Global Reconstruction Group (GRG) had handled its dealings with small businesses from 2008 to 2014. British MP Nicky Morgan, then chair of the committee wrote in reply to McEwan's written submission that it was 'concerned by the pattern of defensiveness, and a failure to acknowledge mistakes, demonstrated by RBS throughout its handling of the GRG affair. Mr McEwan’s letter to me is an example of this...'[12]

Resignation from RBS[edit]

In April 2019, McEwan announced his shock resignation on the eve of RBS’s AGM and first quarter results. McEwan has a twelve month notice period, and committed himself to remain in situ until a suitable successor was found. Upon his resignation, Chairman Howard Davis commended McEwan on his turn around of the part-nationalised lender, noting “his successful execution of the strategy to refocus the bank back on its core markets here in the UK and Ireland has helped to deliver one of the biggest UK corporate turnarounds in history.” [13]

During his tenure as CEO, he focused his work on modernising and simplifying the bank's IT system, and launched many fintech startups to race at the leading-edge of banking innovation.[14]

McEwan was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to the financial sector.[15]

Move to National Australia Bank[edit]

National Australia Bank announced on 19 July 2019, the appointment of Ross McEwan as Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director. NAB chairman-elect Philip Chronican said NAB had secured a senior, global financial services executive with deep experience in international markets and long-standing knowledge of the Australian banking environment.[16]

Personal life[edit]

McEwan and his wife Stephanie met through playing basketball, while they were both students at Massey University. She has a degree in food technology and they have two adult daughters. They own a farm in New Zealand.[4][10]


  1. ^ Laura Noonan; David Blood (23 July 2017). "Here's what the CEOs of the world's biggest banks earn". Financial Times. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Arnold, Martin (8 February 2015). "Monday interview: Ross McEwan, Royal Bank of Scotland CEO". Financial Times. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Once world's largest bank, RBS beats a retreat". Associated Press. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Ross McEwan: who is RBS's new chief executive?". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Ross McEwan". Royal Bank of Scotland. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  6. ^ a b "RBS set to name Kiwi Ross McEwan as chief executive". The Independent. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  7. ^ "First NZ Capital and Securities become one". Good Returns. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  8. ^ "FNZC | Wealth and asset management, investment advice and financial research – FNZC, New Zealand". Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Free banking could end, says RBS boss". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Profile: Ross McEwan, the 'nearly man' taking over helm of RBS". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  11. ^ "RBS boss Ross McEwan to hand back £1m allowance". BBC News. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  12. ^ "RBS boss accused of withholding information from MPs". The Guardian. 14 September 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  13. ^ Keown, Callum (25 April 2019). "RBS chief executive Ross McEwan quits one of the 'toughest jobs in banking'".
  14. ^ Arnold, Martin (14 October 2018). "RBS's Ross McEwan on 'the biggest corporate turnround in history'". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  15. ^ "No. 62866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 2019. p. N9.
  16. ^