Hester in 2014
|Alma mater||Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University|
|Salary||GBP £4 million (total compensation)|
|Title||CEO, RSA Insurance Group|
Barbara Abt (m. 1991)
Suzy Neubert (m. 2012)
|Children||2 (with Abt)|
Hester is the eldest son of Ronald, a chemistry professor at the University of York, and Dr Bridget Hester, a psychotherapist. He grew up in the village of Crayke in North Yorkshire. He was educated at Easingwold School in North Yorkshire a rural comprehensive school, and at Oxford where he studied at Lady Margaret Hall, and after chairing the Tory Reform Group, graduated with a first class honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
Hester began his career in 1982 with Credit Suisse, where he started as the chairman's assistant. In 1996 he was appointed to the executive board. Hester held the position of chief financial officer and Head of Support Division, until May 2000. From May 2000 to September 2001, he was Head of the Fixed Income Division.
In May 2002, he joined Abbey National as Finance Director. He then went on to become chief operating officer, a position he held until November 2004, when he was appointed Chief Executive of British Land. In early 2007, eight months before British Land and other REITs were caught in the commercial property slump, he said: "I don't believe we are about to see a market decline, but the period of sharp growth is over."
Hester was appointed non-executive deputy chairman of the newly nationalised Northern Rock by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling in March 2008, a role which he resigned from in September 2008 to take a non-executive position on the board of Royal Bank of Scotland.
Royal Bank of Scotland
In November 2008, he left British Land and replaced Fred Goodwin as Chief Executive of the RBS Group. Hester was paid an annual salary of £1.1million by RBS. Alongside this, he took home £1.5m in bonus and pension payments in 2010. In 2012 he was offered a bonus of just under £1 million, but following some considerable pressure from politicians and the public, he declined the bonus. Later in 2012, in June, he declined his bonus for the following year after RBS' computer problems.
In December 2009, the board of RBS, in which the British government had an 84% stake, threatened to resign unless they were permitted to pay bonuses of £1.5bn to staff in its investment arm. The matter received heavy criticism because it followed a £50bn taxpayer bailout of the banking sector. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, said he would not be "held to ransom".
On 12 June 2013 Royal Bank of Scotland announced that Hester would be stepping down as CEO in December 2013, after five years with the bank. He had been brought in to help restructure the bailed-out bank in 2008, at the beginning of the global financial crisis. His leaving package would be in excess of £1.6m.
On 4 February 2014, Hester joined RSA Insurance Group as CEO, replacing Simon Lee. Hester will be paid an annual salary of £950,000, less than the £1.2m a year he earned at RBS. However, he will be granted an initial award under RSA's long-term incentive plan of £2.85m, or 300% of salary, and will be eligible for an annual bonus of 160% of his salary, or £1.52m.
Hester bought the 350-acre Broughton Grange estate in Oxfordshire in 1992. One of Hester's passions is said to be the garden of Broughton Grange and development of its arboretum, which was designed by landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith and includes pleached limes, formal beds and five of the first Australian Wollemi pines to be brought into the UK.
Hester enjoys tennis, running and shooting, as well as skiing, for which he owns a chalet in Verbier, Switzerland. Hester also enjoys horse riding, and his first wife is a master of fox hounds in Warwickshire. He is quoted as having said: "It’s very important to keep our marriage together that I do the same as she does."
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| CEO of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group