RBS has the 'best employer brand' for graduates

Yes, you read that right: the failed bank has crowned its annus horribilis with a branding award.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

We’re not easily shocked here at MT, but we must admit that we were a little surprised today when we read that RBS has just collected the coveted title of ‘Best Employer Brand’ at the annual awards of the Association of Graduate Recruiters. Hang on a sec, we thought. Surely this can’t be the RBS – the failed bank that for many people symbolises the hubris and excess of the banking sector, which this year has been bailed out by the taxpayer at vast expense to the public purse? Surely that can’t be the best graduate employer brand in the business, particularly after a year in which it’s presumably slashed its recruitment numbers to the bone? But apparently so…

According to the AGR, the judges were united in their admiration for a brand ‘expressed consistently across multiple channels and media’, describing its ‘Make It RBS’ slogan as: ‘a call to action which was supported by a holistic, total proposition’ that distinguished the bank clearly from its competitors. As, presumably, did the notoriety it achieved this year by sinking to the largest corporate loss in UK history – a whopping £24bn – ultimately forcing the Government to buy a 70% stake to stave off its collapse. In fact, ‘Make it RBS’ sounds more like an allocation of the public spending budget than a ‘call to action’.

And if you’re thinking this award gives the impression that the downward spiral of RBS (and therefore its brand) in the last 18 months never actually happened, a visit to the bank’s graduate careers website wouldn’t exactly dispel this notion. Its ‘Short History’ is so short that it actually stops in 2007 with the acquisition of ABN Amro, which is proudly referred to as ‘the largest banking transaction ever’ – neglecting to mention that this is the very deal that ultimately brought about the bank’s downfall. Nor is there any mention whatsoever of anything post-2007 – like, say, the bank’s multi-billion pound taxpayer-funded rescue, or the furore over Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension pot. You’d hope most potential recruits would be sufficiently au fait with the business news to have noticed this, but still…

Of course there is another way of looking at this. How good must its graduate recruitment team be, if they managed to convince a jury of their peers that they were the best employer brand in the business despite their bank falling to pieces around them? New boss Stephen Hester is famously due a reward pot of nearly £10m if he succeeds in turning RBS around – sounds like some of this should be diverted to the grad team. 

And besides, we shouldn’t complain – if RBS manages to attract a stellar crop of graduates this year, it might increase the likelihood of us taxpayers eventually being able to flog a revived institution back to the private sector at a profit...

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RBS has the 'best employer brand' for graduates

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