The below is an edited transcript of an interview between 3AW Mornings’ Neil Mitchell and NAB CEO Ross McEwan held on 9 September 2022.
Neil Mitchell: On the line is Ross McEwan Chief Executive, National Australia Bank. We had arranged to speak today about a number of things to do with the banking world and the economy which we’ll delay to when he’s next available, hopefully next week, because obviously today we’re overwhelmed by news of her majesty’s death. But he was also Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland from 2013 to 2019, Ross McEwan good morning.
Ross McEwan: Good morning Neil.
NM: So the Queen was your customer?
RM: She was indeed. She was a customer of the Royal Bank of Scotland through Coutts, the bank to the Queen and also to the palace. We also looked after the Queen mother prior to her as well, so a long history.
NM: I don’t imagine the Queen dropped in with her passport to take some cash out, did she?
RM: No, no she didn’t but we did have a London cab that was owned by Coutts that actually took the cash down to the palace and had the entry point to take cash into the palace as they required it. But no, the Queen didn’t have a card that I was aware of but she was a longstanding customer of the bank.
NM: Did you ever meet her?
RM: No, I met other members of the family though. Never had the honour of meeting the Queen Elizabeth II.
NM: How would you put her reign in the context of this country? What did she mean to Australia?
RM: I think she was a sensational leader of people. She had a dignity about her and a friendliness that everybody saw, they warmed to her. It just feels like we’ve lost our most loved grandmother we’ve ever had, and I think people are feeling it. I connected with friends of mine this morning in the UK. There was a genuine sorrow, respect but sorrow, for what a magnificent leader she’d been for 70 years.
NM: Does the bank do anything to commemorate the occasion? Do you have any symbolic action to take?
RM: Well first off, I’ve dropped a note out on what we call Workplace for all of our colleagues acknowledging Queen Elizabeth II, because it is a sad moment. There will be a lot of our colleagues at work here who have engaged with the royal family and with the Queen for 70 years. We’ve known nobody else so we’re acknowledging that. We will just see what happens with the Government over the next few weeks as to whether we do any more celebrations. I hope we do so.
NM: Can you tell me, we’ve contacted the Mint about this, what happens with coins and notes with her face on them? Do they gradually remove those or not, do you know?
RM: Look I don’t think there’s any urgency for it, but over time you replace that with the new King, King Charles III. But at this stage, no change whatsoever.
NM: There’ll probably be a memorial coin as well I’d imagine?
RM: I would have thought so, some sort of ceremonial coin because after 70 years it’s been a magnificent reign.
NM: Yeah, we’re talking about what could be done to recognise her permanently in this country. Sorry I interrupted you, were you going to say something else?
RM: No, I just think also with coins and notes, they’re in circulation a long, long period of time. They last a long time and so I think we’ll still have Queen Elizabeth II on many of those for a long time yet.
NM: I appreciate your time, I’m sorry we’ve been unable to talk about the things we’ve planned, but I hope we can do that in the near future please.
RM: Happy to do so Neil. And as I say, it’s a sad day, but a great time to reflect on an amazing reign of a magnificent woman.
NM: Thank you very much Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of the National Australia Bank. Former banker to the Queen. Isn’t that lovely – a London cab sitting there, throw the money in and drive down to the Palace.