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RBS warning over staff losses

LOSS-MAKING Royal Bank of Scotland has claimed that problems with attracting and retaining quality executives and staff could have a "material adverse effect" on its business and future prospects.

The Edinburgh-based bank says other issues including a Yes vote for Scottish independence, increasing provisions to cover litigation claims and the ability to sell off subsidiaries could also cause future problems.

In a registration document prepared for and filed with the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the 81% state-owned lender said a ­failure to attract or retain senior management in the light of "heightened regulatory oversight of banks and heightened scrutiny of and restrictions placed upon, management and employee compensation arrangements" would affect its ability to implement plans for future success.

RBS has come under fire for awarding what some consumer groups feel is too generous bonuses to staff while the bank is making crippling losses, the latest being a £8.2bn loss in 2013. Chief executive Ross McEwan confirmed recently the bank was paying out bonuses of £576m in order to "keep people engaged".

The bank said the failure to attract or retain a sufficient number of appropriately skilled personnel "could place the group at a significant competitive disadvantage and prevent the group from successfully implementing its [business] strategy, which could have a material adverse effect on the group's financial condition and results of operations".

The group's changing strategy, particularly with respect to its markets business and recently announced disposition of RBS Citizens, has led to an exodus of staff.

The lack of continuity of senior management and the loss of key personnel within the group could have an adverse impact on the implementation of the group's strategic objectives and regulatory commitments, it also warned.

RBS had previously highlighted the "political risks" posed by ­Scottish independence to its ­business, saying it would be likely to have a significant impact on the group's credit ratings.

But it has now gone further in describing the risk factors it faces which affect future prospects in its registration document for the FCA.

RBS said a Yes vote in the September referendum was "likely to significantly impact on the fiscal, monetary, legal and regulatory landscape to which the group is subject".

It added: "Were Scotland to become independent, it may also affect Scotland's status in the EU. The occurrence of any of the impacts … could significantly impact the group's costs and would have a material adverse effect on the group's business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects."

The annual loss for 2013 was £3bn more than the previous year and the biggest since the £24.3bn deficit in 2008 - a record for a UK company - which led to a record-breaking £45bn Government bail-out to avoid its collapse at the height of the global financial crisis.

The bank further warned it may be required to increase provisions in relation to ongoing legal proceedings, investigations and governmental and regulatory matters.

In January the bank said it had to set aside more than £3bn in additional funds to cover litigation and customer compensation claims. In an unscheduled statement the bank said it would take the series of provisions on top of a £4bn to £4.5bn loss from the creation of its new "bad bank".

"Significant increases in provisions may harm the group's reputation and may have an adverse effect on the group's financial condition and results of operations," it said. "Past or current failure to comply with any one or more of these laws or regulations could have a significant adverse effect on the group's reputation, financial condition and results of operations."

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