NatWest picks boardroom veteran Haythornthwaite to succeed under-fire chair Sir Howard Davies

Former NatWest customer Mark Mansfield said his firm was set back 10 years after the bank shut its account without explanation (Matt Crossick/PA) (PA Wire)
Former NatWest customer Mark Mansfield said his firm was set back 10 years after the bank shut its account without explanation (Matt Crossick/PA) (PA Wire)

Boardroom veteran Rick Haythornthwaite will be NatWest’s new chair, taking over from under-fire Howard Davies in April of next year.

Davies had already planned to retire next year, but pressure on him to exit ramped up following the controversy over Nigel Farage’s bank account with NatWest-owned Coutts.Farage called for the heads of all of NatWest’s board, after it was revealed that Coutts had kept a dossier of his political positions, which were a factor in shutting his account with the high-net-worth bank.

Now, NatWest has revealed that David will exit at the end of April, to be replaced by Haythornthwaite, who has previously been the chair of Ocado, Mastercard, Centrica and Network Rail. He will initially join the board as an independent director in January, before Davies exits.

Haythornthwaite said: “It is a privilege to assume the role of NatWest Group Chair. I am inheriting a very different NatWest compared to my predecessor; one that is more customer focused, financially resilient and well positioned to maintain its recent strong performance. I look forward to working with the Board to build on the exceptional progress made, so we can continue to support the UK economy and deliver for our customers and stakeholders.”

Davies has been chair of NatWest, which is 40% Government-owned, since 2015,, when it was still known as the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. He had previously been deputy governor of the Bank of England and executive chair of the Financial Services Authority.

He said: “I am very pleased by the choice the Board has made and am confident that Rick’s experience and range of skills will complement and further strengthen the NatWest Board in the years to come. I look forward to working closely with him to ensure a smooth handover next year.”

Mark Seligman, senior independent director at NatWest said: “At our AGM in April 2023 we announced that we would be commencing the search for Howard’s successor.

“Today’s announcement follows a rigorous process which I have led along with the senior independent directors from our ring-fenced bank.  After careful consideration of a number of high-quality candidates, the board has unanimously chosen Rick as our new Chair.

“Rick is a highly experienced chair who combines a successful commercial career with a deep knowledge of financial services markets and technology, as well as a strong track record of delivery at significant customer-facing organisations.”

Haythornthwaite will step down as the chair of the AA to take the role.

In July, NatWest CEO Alison Rose resigned, after it emerged that she had leaked information to a journalist that led to an inaccurate BBC report regarding Farage’s Coutts account.