Fred Goodwin Biography

Fred Goodwin is a Scottish chartered accountant and former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Despite coming from a lower middle class background, Fred achieved great success in his career. He gained international recognition for his role in transforming RBS into one of the world’s most profitable banks. However, his tenure ended in controversy and he ultimately resigned due to the failure of RBS. Despite being knighted for his services, his knighthood was later revoked due to his involvement in the bank’s downfall.

Quick Facts

  • Nick Name: Fred the Shred, Fred
  • Also Known As: Frederick Anderson Goodwin
  • Age: 65 Years, 65 Year Old Males
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Joyce McLean (m. 1990 – present – separated)
  • CEOs
  • British Men
  • City: Paisley, Scotland
  • More Facts
  • Education: Paisley Grammar School, University of Glasgow, University of Glasgow School of Law

Childhood & Early Life

Fred Goodwin was born Frederick Anderson Goodwin on August 17, 1958, in Renfrewshire, Scotland, to an electrician father and a homemaker mother. He hailed from a middle-class family and was the first in his family to attend college. Fred grew up in the Ferguslie Park region and attended a local grammar school. After completing high school, his family moved to Glasgow, where Fred attended Glasgow University to further his studies. He initially studied law but had a desire to become a chartered accountant. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1983 and began working at Touche Ross.

Early Career

After becoming a certified chartered accountant, Fred was hired by Touche Ross. In 1985, he became part of the management consultant team that handled the Rosyth Dockyard. In 1988, he was made a partner in Touche Ross. He was then given the task of preparing the aerospace company Short Brothers for privatization, which led to him becoming the president of the company. During his time at Touche Ross, Fred also worked as a company representative for the National Australia Bank, where he helped them take over Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks. In 1995, he was invited to become the deputy chief executive of Clydesdale bank, where he earned the nickname “Fred the Shred” for his cost-saving efficiencies.

Royal Bank of Scotland

In 1998, Fred was offered the position of deputy CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). He worked alongside CEO George Mathewson, who had ambitions of making RBS a major international player. Fred played a crucial role in the successful takeover of NatWest, a bank three times larger than RBS. In 2001, Fred was promoted to the position of CEO of RBS and immediately merged NatWest and RBS, resulting in the cutting of 18,000 jobs. Under Fred’s leadership, RBS continued to expand through acquisitions, including Charter One Financial Inc. in the US, making RBS the 7th largest company in US banking operations.

Challenges and Resignation

While RBS experienced significant growth under Fred’s leadership, criticism arose in 2005 when he focused on global expansion rather than short-term goals. This criticism intensified during the 2008 international recession when RBS faced a liquidity crisis and incurred heavy losses. The government had to intervene and buy a majority of shares in RBS, leading to Fred’s resignation as CEO in 2009. Fred faced further criticism for his extravagant spending and was held partially responsible for the global financial crisis of 2007-08.

Awards & Honours

Fred Goodwin received a knighthood in 2004 for his services to the banking industry, but it was later annulled by the Queen following the failure of RBS. He was named Businessman of the Year by Forbes Magazine in 2002 and European Banker of the Year in 2003. He has also received honorary doctorates and fellowships from St Andrews University and the London Business School.

Family & Personal Life

Fred Goodwin married Joyce McLean in 1990, and they have two children. However, their marriage faced difficulties due to Fred’s extramarital affair, which led to his wife asking him to leave the house in 2011. Fred is known for his love of vintage cars and Formula One, and he enjoys playing golf in his free time.

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