It’s striking that today’s resignation of TSB CEO Paul Pester seems to be down at least as much to his public handling of the bank’s IT problems as the IT problems themselves.

Since first suffering huge operational problems in April when moving customer data to a new platform, TSB has still not got all its IT systems back on track. Many customers’ finances have been thrown into disarray as they’ve been unable to access their accounts and had money go missing.

There’s no doubt the IT woes have been enormous. But it’s also apparent that the bank – and Pester –  would have fared far better if he’d handled the fall-out differently and taken clearer responsibility for the problems.

While some might think technical difficulties can be hard to foresee, the Treasury Committee has been exceptionally outspoken in placing the blame squarely on Pester personally for his handling of the situation:

“The TSB Board should give serious consideration to whether Dr Pester’s position as Chief Executive is sustainable. The Committee has lost confidence in his ability to provide a full and frank assessment of the problems at TSB and to deal with them in the best interests of its customers. It is concerned that, if he continues in his position, this could damage trust not only in TSB but in the retail banking sector as a whole.

“Since the IT problems at TSB began, its public communications have been complacent and misleading. This tone has been set from the top – by Paul Pester – and … he has not been straight with the Committee and TSB customers.

“Dr Pester’s statements that ‘everything is running smoothly for the vast majority of our customers’ and that ‘there will be no barriers’ to customers switching accounts, and his denial that there were problems on TSB’s fraud reporting line, are all examples of this. The Treasury Committee has lost confidence in Dr Pester’s position as Chief Executive of TSB.”

This was in June. Pester remained in place since then to tough things out, but with another flare up of IT problems yesterday, it seems either the TSB Board, or Pester himself, finally decided he’s the wrong person to lead the bank forwards.

It’s yet another example (joining BP, Oxfam, Vauxhall, Thomas Cook, Barclays and many more) of operational upheaval turned into a corporate – and personal – reputational disaster by poor crisis communication.


For more on similar topics, read our other crisis blog posts or see our crisis communications services.

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