Chris Sullivan, 39 years with RBS and appointed head of corporate banking four years ago after running the bank's insurance arm, said: "When I came back post-crisis, I found 40% of my bankers were qualified. I was amazed to find how few people seeing customers were actually qualified bankers - you would not want to fly with an unqualified pilot."
He went on: "I have sent people back to school again; every single one of our people seeing customers should be qualified by the end of this year."
Mr Sullivan said the old bank had fired qualified people and had "lost a whole generation of bankers and replaced them with salespeople". He said his aim had been to "bring that old-fashioned purpose back at the heart of what we do" so that "we don't get into the same mess we did the last time, where all we were concerned about was our bottom line and our investors".
The executive was addressing a Global Entrepreneurial Leaders conference staged by social enterprise Wildhearts, with support from RBS including use of its Gogarburn conference centre, aimed at highlighting ethical business leadership.
Bob Keiller, chief executive of Wood Group, said the core values he created for his management buy-out of PSN had been at the root of the company's trebling of value in five years before its sale to Wood Group. He said: "The only thing that differentiated us from the competition was our addiction to values - everybody else said business is business. We weren't any better in terms of engineering, procurement, graduate development, but we ultimately created a business where culture was the differentiating factor."
Mr Keiller said he had imported the PSN values into Wood Group, with its 45,000 employees, through a personal crusade, staging two 'values' meetings every week across the global group. Major company CEOs, he said, tended to see this role as being "hard work, not part of their job, or a bit beneath them".
Wood Group had "said no to a lot of contract opportunities where... there was an expectation somebody would get a backhander".
Mr Keiller revealed PSN and Wood had parted company with "at least five very senior managers" in the last two or three years because of values-based issues. He said recent long-term contract awards potentially worth "hundreds of millions of dollars" were largely attributable to Wood's values.
He said Wood Group had helped sustain the Glencraft workshops for the blind in Aberdeen and funded 26 schools in Bangladesh. Wildhearts has pioneered the Micro-Tyco competition, which last year generated £250,000 for projects in the developing world.