Tension is growing between RBS and the firms pitching for its legal panel as the bank tightens its secondment criteria and firms struggle to manage their streamlined teams.
While the bank is looking for more secondees to maximise the value it gets from its panel members, firms that have undergone widespread redundancies are finding it hard to commit to long-term secondments. This has been exacerbated by the fact that RBS is now being far more proscriptive about the business areas that secondees will be working in.
One magic circle banking partner said: “Workflow is returning and teams are much slimmer now. At the same time financial institutions are asking for more secondees to help them deal with increased workflow. It’s like the imperfect storm for a lot of firms.”
RBS currently has around 100 secondees on its staff, each of whom will work at the bank for between six and nine months. The bank drafted in more secondees from its panel firms since its takeover of ABN Amro in 2007, with the 500-strong legal department experiencing a massive influx of work relating to the deal, the subsequent government bailout and the sell-off of parts of its business.
The bank defended its stance on secondments, saying that given its legal spend firms should be willing to adapt to its changing needs.
An RBS source said: “We just want to be more clear about what we need and in which area. This is a positive thing for the firms as well, because both sides are clear about what’s expected over the next two or three years.”