Alison Rose: the City high flyer in the running for the RBS top job | Business

Alison Rose, one of the most senior women in the City, is regarded as the frontrunner within Royal Bank of Scotland to succeed the chief executive, Ross McEwan, when he departs within the next 12 months.

The 49-year-old Rose has kept a lower profile in recent years than other City high flyers such as Nicola Horlick and Dame Helena Morrissey, but is highly regarded in the banking industry.

Already the most powerful woman in UK banking, Rose would be the first woman to run a major UK bank. Late last year she was appointed deputy CEO of NatWest Holdings, the “ring-fenced” part of RBS which excludes the riskier investment banking business. It is the largest part of RBS and in this role she deputises for McEwan when he is away and leads on key strategic projects.

She also runs RBS’s commercial and private banking business, which includes Coutts.

Rose recently concluded a Treasury-commissioned review of female entrepreneurship, which found that only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female and just 1% of venture funding goes to all-female teams.

Rose, who lives in Highgate in north London and has two teenage children, was the only woman in the boardroom when she attended her first meeting as a senior RBS executive. She is passionate about improving equality and diversity in the boardroom and promoting female entrepreneurs, but does not favour boardroom quotas which she regards as too blunt.

Coming from a military family, Rose travelled all over the world and settled back in England at 15. She once wanted to be a diplomat but instead joined National Westminster Bank as a trainee in 1992 after graduating with a history degree from Durham University.

When NatWest was taken over by RBS in 2000, Rose was working in investment banking and later rose to be RBS’s head of leveraged finance in the UK and Europe, and subsequently head of markets and international banking in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She was involved in restructuring the bank’s balance sheet after the financial crisis of 2008, when RBS needed a £45bn state bailout.

In 2014 she took over commercial and private banking. RBS is the UK’s biggest business lender, and Rose told senior managers they should meet at least two or three female bosses of small firms every week.

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