Born: January 2, 1938.

Died: September 16, 2022.

SIR Bruce Pattullo, who has died aged 84, was an outstanding banker whose financial acumen and shrewd banking brain greatly enhanced the authority and international reputation of the Bank of Scotland.

He served the bank for 37 years in many senior roles and when he retired in 1990 a leading financial journalist, Ray Perman, described him as “the outstanding banker of his generation. He gave unswerving moral leadership which ensured that The Bank treated its customers with respect, openly and honestly.”

David Bruce Pattullo was born in Edinburgh in 1938. His father was a lawyer who principally managed the affairs of Scots working on the rubber estates in Malaya. Pattullo snr was awarded an MC but was killed towards the end of the Second World War. Pattullo and his sister were evacuated in 1939 to live with their grandmother on the family farm in Fife.

He attended Belhaven Hill near Dunbar and then Rugby School, where he was a good hockey player. He did his national service with the Royal Scots and was commissioned into the Queen’s Own Nigeria Regiment, and then read for a BA at Hertford College, Oxford.

In 1961, he joined the Bank of Scotland’s graduate recruitment programme, working at the Goldenacre branch in Edinburgh and Pollokshields in Glasgow. Three years later he won the Bilsland prize in the Scottish Chartered Institute of Bankers. Important postings followed: notably, general manager Bank of Scotland Finance (1973-77), and chief executive, the British Linen Bank (1977-78).

But it was his appointment as the Bank of Scotland’s Treasurer and General Manager in 1979, at the early age of 41, that marked him out as an outstanding force in international banking. He later also served as Deputy Governor (1988-91).

Sir Bruce brought a new and inspiring management style to the Bank’s affairs. He initiated innovative and imaginative plans, opening up new markets and preparing the bank for the technological age. In 1985 it was the first UK clearer to introduce banking from the customer’s personal computer.

Banks in New Zealand and Australia were acquired and Pattullo was keen to involve the Bank in the burnishing North Sea Oil business and the expansion of Aberdeen. It became recognised as one of the most innovative of the clearers and increased its share of the UK banking market.

Most importantly, he encouraged managers to manage their branches and bring a personal and individual touch in order to best serve their customers’ requirements. When the Bank adopted the slogan “A Friend for Life”, in 1984, it was a very genuine reflection of its status in Scotland, and epitomised Sir Bruce’s refined and personal approach to banking.

In 1996 he was at the centre of a rare storm among Edinburgh’s financial establishment when the Standard Life board (of which he was a member) announced it was going to sell its 30% stake, valued at £900m, in the Bank. It represented a disproportionately large slice of Standard’s investment portfolio but the sale immediately made the Bank of Scotland a takeover target. Indeed, Sir Bruce was so incensed at not being informed that he drove down The Mound to the Standard’s HQ and personally delivered his letter of resignation.

At the 1990 AGM of the Bank the outgoing Governor, Sir Thomas Risk, announced him as his successor. The news was greeted, most unusually at an AGM, with applause from the shareholders. The Glasgow Herald said that Sir Bruce “brings a very professional banker’s expertise to the office which could well set a new pattern for the future”.

He was proud of the 300 year-old history of the Bank and reminded staff and audiences that the bank, “the institution itself”, was more important than the individuals who worked there. He said at a 1995 tercentenary celebration: “Mistakes are more likely to occur in corporate life, especially in a bank, where one individual is anxious to achieve too much in too short a space of time. There is no substitute for good old-fashioned common sense.”

As governor, Sir Bruce demonstrated shrewd banking skills on a broad range of commercial issues – greatly to the benefit of the economy throughout Scotland.

On corporate objectives he was crystal clear, stating categorically: ‘’We are particularly wary of grandiose designs. The scrap heap is already littered with other players.”

A long-standing colleague and friend, Archie Gibson, a former joint general manager of the Bank of Scotland. remembers him with much warmth.

“Bruce was a life-long community banker”, he says. “He wanted to modernise the Bank but keep it true to its original structure of service to the people. He was a totally honourable, courteous, modest man and a joy to be with – popular with staff, customers and shareholders. We got on famously both as colleagues and as friends.

“We were both members of a small group at the Edinburgh Sports Club who met to play Veterans’ Tennis. They were always needle matches but great fun.”

Sir Bruce upset many Scots with his forthright warnings about voting for a Parliament in Edinburgh with tax-raising powers during the devolution referendum. He had launched a blistering attack on the proposals and their consequences for the Scottish economy, claiming that Scotland’s economic status would become a regional ‘sore thumb’. ‘’I will watch. I will watch,’’ he commented when his advice was not heeded.

Sir Bruce, who was knighted in 1995 and received honorary degrees from Strathclyde, Aberdeen and Stirling universities, married Fiona Nicholson in 1962. She and their three sons and a daughter survive him.