After finding itself at the centre of a political storm last summer, when it was accused of “de-banking” by Nigel Farage, bosses at NatWest Group will have welcomed a return to more routine matters when its results for 2023 were announced today.

The bank confirmed the appointment of Paul Thwaite as permanent successor to former chief executive Dame Alison Rose and the Liverpudlian could scarcely have wished for a more benign response from the stock market to the first annual results released under his leadership.

Shares in the state-backed owner of Royal Bank of Scotland climbed more than 7% after the bank served up higher profits for 2023 than had been anticipated by City watchers and lower provisions for bad debts. It is expected impairments will remain low this year, albeit the bank said the outlook for the economy remains uncertain.

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Following the upheaval of last summer, when Dame Alison fell on her sword after admitting to being the source of BBC stories concerning accounts Mr Farage held with Coutts, NatWest’s private banking business, Mr Thwaite is likely to have been pleased that the focus today has generally been on banking issues.

But that is not to say that NatWest does not have its challenges to seek.

It now appears, for example, that the boost to income banks have received from the recent surge in interest rates has plateaued. NatWest, moreover, saw customer deposits tumble by £13.8 billion, or 3.2%, to £419.1bn in 2023 as customers moved money to interest-bearing accounts in an extremely competitive market, although that “migration” was found to have slowed in the final quarter. Margins also showed signs of coming under pressure in the fourth quarter.

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With official figures on Thursday showing that the UK had fallen into recession in the final quarter of 2023, steering the bank through economic conditions that will continue to challenge many businesses and households will not be easy.

But with a strong balance sheet, and an imminent retail offer for the UK Government’s near-40% stake in NatWest paving the way to full private ownership, the outlook could certainly be a lot worse for the new boss.