Troubled TSB hires first female chief after IT meltdown: Debbie Crosbie becomes most powerful woman in British banking
TSB has poached a top female banker for its vacant chief executive post as it battles to recover from an IT meltdown that left its reputation in tatters.
Debbie Crosbie will take over in the new year after Paul Pester resigned in September.
He was ousted after the April disaster which locked as many as 1.9m customers out of their accounts.
In charge: Debbie Crosbie will take over in the new year after Paul Pester resigned in September
JUST TEN WEEKS MATERNITY LEAVE
When Debbie Crosbie isn’t wading through mountains of memos, she likes to immerse herself in a romantic novel. And after getting through the Financial Times in the morning, she sometimes affords herself a quick flick through Hello! magazine.
In an industry where bosses are often telling us how well-read they are, this is a woman who possibly doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Warm and engaging, Crosbie’s been known to deal with customer complaints by phoning them personally. Doubtless this is part of what brought her to the attention of the board of TSB, many of whose account holders are still frothing at the gills from its recent IT meltdown.
Born in Glasgow, her father was an engineer, mother a care worker. She studied business at Strathclyde University before moving to the City as a trainee at Prudential.
She moved to Clydesdale Bank as a project manager in 1997.
Married to a small business owner, she returned to work just ten weeks after giving birth to their now teenage daughter, and spent four years on a three-day week.
As a sign of how valued she was, it was the first time the bank had granted an executive such an arrangement.
It will make Crosbie, 48, the most powerful woman in British banking with an empire covering 4.2m customers and £60 billion of deposits and lending.
The appointment follows fears that TSB was struggling to find a chief executive. Senior finance figures, including former Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia, had turned down the role.
Crosbie is chief operating officer at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group (CYBG), where she has long been seen as a safe pair of hands and became the first woman to have her signature on a Scottish banknote.
The married mother of one will face the daunting task of rebuilding TSB’s shattered reputation after it squandered its image as a caring alternative to the major High Street banks.
Cleaning up the mess after the bank’s botched computer system upgrade has already cost £250m, with the bill expected to rise in the final quarter of this year.
Crosbie must also walk a political tightrope with the bank’s Spanish owner Sabadell amid speculation it sees TSB as a liability and could even put it up for sale, with possible bidders including Crosbie’s current employer.
TSB would not say what Crosbie – who will commute to the bank’s London headquarters from her home in Edinburgh – will be paid, but her fixed pay is expected to be slightly higher than Pester’s at more than £1m, with bonuses on top worth hundreds of thousands of pounds more.
She is also expected to get a lump sum to compensate her for the loss of up to £1.1m-worth of CYBG shares which had been coming her way under various bonus schemes.
TSB chairman Richard Meddings said the bank had considered more than 30 possible candidates and interviewed six. He said that ‘in an impressive field’ Crosbie stood out.
Sabadell is thought to have hoped that the IT upgrade at TSB would be a success and be a launch pad from which it could buy more banks in Britain. But the failure means that dream is all but dead, and market watchers believe Sabadell might cut its losses in the UK.
Meanwhile Meddings – who insisted that Sabadell remains committed to TSB – said that the bank will be bidding for a slice of a £775m state-backed fund to increase competition in business banking. He added that the lender could still pocket some of this cash despite the damage the IT catastrophe had inflicted on its credibility.
He said: ‘All I can do is control what I can control, which is simply to make sure we submit a very good bid.’