RBS sees first annual profit since 2007

RBS posts first profit in a decade

Ross McEwan, RBS chief executive, said: "I'm pleased to announce an operating profit before tax of £2.2bn for 2017 and our first full year attributable profit in ten years, of £752m".

RBS remains more than 70 per cent owned by the taxpayer after its £45bn bail-out by the Government during the crisis.

Bankers pay has become a point of contention in Britain, particularly for banks receiving government bailouts that the public blame on reckless lending and poor corporate governance.

RBS, however, still continues to deal with the consequences of its turbulent past, with a potentially hefty DoJ fine still hanging over the bank.

Although RBS managed to turn a profit in 2017, Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, emphasised that "this is a stay of execution rather than a pardon" since the bank still faces a multi-billion-dollar penalty from the US DoJ, "which is going to take a big slice out of the bank's 2018 profits".

When will RBS resolve its U.S. problems?

McEwan, a New Zealander who has run RBS since 2013, later told reporters that he plans to stay at the bank until it has settled the US case and resumed payouts, which would likely take the form of a small dividend initially.

The issue weighs on RBS's share price and complicates the United Kingdom government's plan to sell down its 71% stake in the bank.

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RBS said it had beaten its overall cost reduction target of 750 million pounds in 2017, taking out 810 million pounds.

"We have been constantly hit with the sins of the past with conduct and litigation issues and I've been heavily restructuring the business to bring it back to the United Kingdom", said McEwan.

Earlier this week a stinging report into mistreatment of struggling small firms by RBS's now-defunct turnaround unit Global Restructuring Group (GRG) was published by MPs after regulator the Financial Conduct Authority refused to do so after warning that it would be a criminal offence for individuals to publish the report.

The company intends to accelerate the transformation of the bank which necessitates increased investment and innovation spend together with additional restructuring costs.

McEwan commented: "At the same time as building financial strength, we have also made progress with the legacy of our past and improving our core bank".

The bank has now put in place a complaints process overseen by a former high court judge, Mr McEwan added.

"That is not a satisfactory position and we know that we still have much to do to narrow the gap".

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