Stephen Hester

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Stephen Hester
Stephen Hester FT Summer Party 2014.jpg
Hester in 2014
Born (1960-12-14) 14 December 1960 (age 58)
Yorkshire, England[1]
EducationEasingwold School
Alma materLady Margaret Hall, Oxford University
Years active1982–present
SalaryGBP £4 million (total compensation)[2][3]
TitleCEO, RSA Insurance Group
Barbara Abt (m. 1991)

Suzy Neubert (m. 2012)
Children2 (with Abt)

Stephen A. M. Hester (born 14 December 1960) is an English businessman and former banker, the chief executive officer (CEO) of RSA Insurance Group and former CEO of the RBS Group.[4]

Early life[edit]

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.[4]


Hester (right) with Vince Cable, 2013

Hester began his career in 1982 with Credit Suisse, where he started as the chairman's assistant.[4] 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."[5]

Hester was appointed non-executive deputy chairman of the newly nationalised Northern Rock by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling in March 2008,[6] a role which he resigned from in September 2008 to take a non-executive position on the board of Royal Bank of Scotland.[7]

Royal Bank of Scotland[edit]

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.[8] Alongside this, he took home £1.5m in bonus and pension payments in 2010.[9] 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.[10] Later in 2012, in June, he declined his bonus for the following year after RBS' computer problems.[11]

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.[12] The matter received heavy criticism because it followed a £50bn taxpayer bailout of the banking sector.[citation needed] The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, said he would not be "held to ransom".[13]

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.[14]

RSA Insurance[edit]

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.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Hester married Canadian-born Barbara Abt in 1991, and they had two children together.[16][17] They met when both were working for Credit Suisse.[16][17] They separated in 2010.[16][18]

In September 2012, Hester married Suzy Neubert, a former banker and wealth manager for the fund manager JO Hambro, and it was a second marriage for both of them.[19][20]

Hester bought the 350-acre Broughton Grange estate in Oxfordshire in 1992.[16] 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.[4]

Hester is a trustee of the Foundation and Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.[21][22][23]

Hester has in the past donated to the Conservative Party.[24]

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."[25]


  1. ^ "Business Events". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  2. ^ Sunderland, Ruth (4 February 2014). "Ex-RBS boss Stephen Hester set for £4m package as he takes the helm at RSA". Thisismoney. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  3. ^ Treanor, Jill (5 November 2008). "RBS chief's £11.1m salary deal revealed". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d Davidson, Andrew (7 January 2007). "Towering task for British Land boss". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  5. ^ "Profile: Stephen Hester". London: The Guardian. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  6. ^ "Stephen Hester appointed to Northern Rock board". Reuters. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  7. ^ Russell, Jonathan (13 October 2008). "Stephen Hester moves back to banking as new head of RBS". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  8. ^ Treanor, Jill (11 February 2013). "RBS chairman defends Stephen Hester's 'modest' pay". The Guardian. London.
  9. ^ Barrow, Becky (18 March 2011). "100 RBS bankers on more than £1m: Fury over giant payday at bank YOU own". London:
  10. ^ Peston, Robert (30 January 2012). "RBS boss Stephen Hester rejects £4m bonus". London: Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  11. ^ Treanor, Jill (29 June 2012). "RBS chief Stephen Hester gives up bonus over computer meltdown". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  12. ^ "RBS board could quit over bonuses". BBC News. 3 December 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Darling raises National Insurance". BBC News. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  14. ^ Treanor, Jill (12 June 2013). "RBS chief executive Stephen Hester quits with £1.6m-plus payoff". The Guardian. London.
  15. ^ Trotman, Andrew (4 February 2014). "Former RBS chief Stephen Hester joins RSA as CEO". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  16. ^ a b c d "Stephen Hester: the first name on every headhunter's hitlist". 29 August 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Profile: RBS boss Stephen Hester". 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via
  18. ^ (4 June 2010). "RBS boss splits with wife of 20 years as pressure of saving bank takes toll". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  19. ^ Walsh, Kate (4 March 2012). "Prufrock: For Hester, this is Cupid's bonus". Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via
  20. ^ Fournier, Elizabeth (13 June 2013). "Impossible job was too hard for Hester to finish". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Profile: Stephen Hester". 13 October 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  22. ^ "Support Kew – Kew Foundation Board of Trustees". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  23. ^ Jenkins, Patrick (7 June 2013). "Lunch with the FT: Stephen Hester". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  24. ^ "Profile: Stephen Hester". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  25. ^ Eden, Richard (14 November 2009). "Hunting ban comes into force for Labour's banker Stephen Hester". Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Fred Goodwin
CEO of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Succeeded by
Ross McEwan