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Herald View

It would not be wise to assume good times are here again just because Royal Bank of Scotland has reported a better than hoped for half-year trading update.

Indeed executives were at pains to point out the relatively benign economic conditions seen in the first six months of the year, which saw the bank massively reduce its impairment charges on bad loans, are unlikely to continue for the rest of 2014.

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They also made it clear RBS is still dealing with several conduct and litigation related issues which may take several years to resolve.

Chief executive Ross McEwan noted those factors are likely to impact profits for many years yet.

Set alongside that RBS continues to charge forward with further large scale restructuring. Charges for this year are already running at more than £500 million.

The cost of that is likely to run into several billion pounds by 2017 and see many more jobs lost from the bank.

If he sticks with his current strategy there appears little doubt that Mr McEwan will achieve his plan for RBS to be a much simpler bank.

His focus on trying to make financial information clearer and easier to understand for personal and business customers is to be admired.

However there are still question marks over how a slimmed down RBS can realistically expect to improve its customer service, particularly as not all its clients will be comfortable using phone banking never mind the various digital platforms it offers.

So while the patient is making progress the long-term prognosis remains uncertain.

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