Stephen Hester

Stephen A. M. Hester (born 14 December 1960)[4] is an English businessman and former banker, the chief executive officer (CEO) of RSA Insurance Group and former CEO of the RBS Group.[5]

Stephen Hester
Stephen Hester FT Summer Party 2014.jpg
Hester in 2014
Born (1960-12-14) 14 December 1960 (age 59)
Yorkshire, England[1]
EducationEasingwold School
Alma materLady Margaret Hall, Oxford University
Years active1982–present
TitleCEO, RSA Insurance Group
Barbara Abt (m. 1991)

Suzy Neubert (m. 2012)
Children2 (with Abt)

Early lifeEdit

Hester is the eldest son of Ronald, a chemistry professor at the University of York, and Dr Bridget Hester, a psychotherapist. He was born in Ithaca, NY, USA but grew up primarily in the village of Crayke in North Yorkshire. He was educated at Easingwold School in North Yorkshire a rural comprehensive school, and at Oxford where he studied at Lady Margaret Hall, and after chairing the Tory Reform Group, graduated with a first class honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.[5]


Hester (right) with Vince Cable, 2013

Hester has had an extensive business career including holding the Chief Executive position at three FTSE 100 companies over the last 16 years. He began his career in 1982 with investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston, where he started in corporate finance and then served a year as the chairman's assistant.[5] He was appointed a Director in 1987 and a Managing Director in 1988 aged 27. Following stints as co-head European M&A and Investment Banking, in 1996 he was appointed to the executive board. Hester held the position of chief financial officer and Head of Support Division, until May 2000. From May 2000 to September 2001, he was Global Head of the Fixed Income Division.

In May 2002, he joined Abbey National as Finance Director. The bank had significant financial problems stemming from its wholesale and life insurance activities. As part of its significant restructuring , he was given additional responsibilities as chief operating officer for the wholesale and insurance arms of the bank as well as its support functions. The restructuring was successful and in 2004 the bank was sold at a significant gain to shareholders to Santander.

In November 2004, Hester was appointed Chief Executive of the FTSE 100 property company British Land succeeding Sir John Ritblat the company’s founder. During Hester’s tenure the company was reshaped, dividends increased 125% and EPS doubled.

Hester was appointed non-executive deputy chairman of the newly nationalised Northern Rock by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling in March 2008,[6] a role which he resigned from in September 2008 to take a non-executive position on the board of Royal Bank of Scotland.[7]

Royal Bank of ScotlandEdit

In October 2008, RBS , then the biggest bank in the world by assets, fell victim to the global financial crisis and needed recapitalisation by the UK Government. As part of that change, Hester was asked to leave British Land and replace Fred Goodwin as Chief Executive of the RBS Group.

The ensuing five years were ones of intense restructuring of RBS. Assets were reduced by some £720 billion and costs by c£4.2 billion. The task has been likened to defusing a financial bomb. In addition to restoring financial health the share price of RBS which had troughed at 90p equivalent, rose to 330p by the time he left the bank.

Hester was paid an annual salary of £1.1 million by RBS.[8] In 2012 he was offered a bonus of just under £1 million, but following some considerable pressure from politicians and the public, he declined the bonus.[9] Later in 2012, in June, he declined his bonus for the following year after RBS' computer problems.[10]

On 12 June 2013 Royal Bank of Scotland announced that Hester would be stepping down as CEO in December 2013, after five years with the bank.

RSA InsuranceEdit

On 4 February 2014, Hester joined RSA Insurance Group, the FTSE100 insurer, as CEO, replacing Simon Lee. The company was also experiencing a financial crisis and Hester led significant restructuring efforts , streamlining and focusing the business, raising £750 million in a rights issue and changing management whilst cutting costs. The insurer has responded well to these changes with substantial increases in earnings, dividends and share price.

In autumn 2016 Hester was also appointed to the Board of Centrica the FTSE 100 energy Group as Senior Independent Director.

Personal lifeEdit

Hester married Canadian-born Barbara Abt in 1991, and they had two children together.[11][12] They met when both were working for Credit Suisse.[11][12] They separated and divorced in 2010.[11][13]

In September 2012, Hester married Suzy Neubert, a former banker and wealth manager for the fund manager J.O. Hambro. It was a second marriage for both of them.[14][15]

Hester bought the 350-acre Broughton Grange estate in Oxfordshire in 1992.[11] One of Hester's passions is said to be the gardens of Broughton Grange and development of its arboretum, which was designed by landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith and includes pleached limes, formal beds and five of the first Australian Wollemi pines to be brought into the UK.[5]

For nine years Hester was a trustee of the Foundation and Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.[16][17][18]

Hester has in the past donated to the Conservative Party.[19]

Hester enjoys tennis, running and shooting, as well as skiing, for which he owns a chalet in Verbier, Switzerland. Hester also used to enjoy horse riding, as his first wife is a master of fox hounds in Warwickshire.


  1. ^ "Business Events". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  2. ^ Sunderland, Ruth (4 February 2014). "Ex-RBS boss Stephen Hester set for £4m package as he takes the helm at RSA". Thisismoney. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  3. ^ Treanor, Jill (5 November 2008). "RBS chief's £11.1m salary deal revealed". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d Davidson, Andrew (7 January 2007). "Towering task for British Land boss". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  6. ^ "Stephen Hester appointed to Northern Rock board". Reuters. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  7. ^ Russell, Jonathan (13 October 2008). "Stephen Hester moves back to banking as new head of RBS". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  8. ^ Treanor, Jill (11 February 2013). "RBS chairman defends Stephen Hester's 'modest' pay". The Guardian. London.
  9. ^ Peston, Robert (30 January 2012). "RBS boss Stephen Hester rejects £4m bonus". London: Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  10. ^ Treanor, Jill (29 June 2012). "RBS chief Stephen Hester gives up bonus over computer meltdown". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d "Stephen Hester: the first name on every headhunter's hitlist". 29 August 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Profile: RBS boss Stephen Hester". 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via
  13. ^ (4 June 2010). "RBS boss splits with wife of 20 years as pressure of saving bank takes toll". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  14. ^ Walsh, Kate (4 March 2012). "Prufrock: For Hester, this is Cupid's bonus". Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via
  15. ^ Fournier, Elizabeth (13 June 2013). "Impossible job was too hard for Hester to finish". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Profile: Stephen Hester". 13 October 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  17. ^ "Support Kew – Kew Foundation Board of Trustees". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  18. ^ Jenkins, Patrick (7 June 2013). "Lunch with the FT: Stephen Hester". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  19. ^ "Profile: Stephen Hester". Retrieved 6 April 2018.

External linksEdit

Business positions
Preceded by
Fred Goodwin
CEO of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Succeeded by
Ross McEwan