RBS moved into its new building in Stamford, an 11-story palace on I-95, almost a year ago. So there's been loads of time for anyone interested in making the team feel bad about the fact that despite having 84 percent of its ass owned by the British government and the massive taxpayer bailout, the bank shelled out the money to build one of the most enormous and impressive trading floors in the world, where employees needn't leave headquarters to grab a few drinks and watch whatever Olympic event tickles their fancy, as there's a sports bar conveniently located inside. And yet. Today the Times seems to go out of its way to to point out that RBS, "the British version of Citigroup or the American International Group," should be embarrassed to inhabit this place, rather than something more in line with their success, like the parking lot of the Howard Johnson in Riverside.
Like A.I.G., the British bank has been the target of many attacks by unhappy taxpayers, including protests during the Group of 20 summit meeting in London in April 2009 and a snowball barrage on some of its workers in London two months earlier that became popular images on the Internet. Last month, the British singer Billy Bragg rallied a crowd in Hyde Park in London to demand that R.B.S halt bonus payments.
And so, five time zones away, executives in R.B.S.'s American outpost are a bit cautious as they give a tour of their new offices, a $500 million building designed in 2006. "It's very bull market," said Michael Lyublinsky, co-head of global banking and markets for R.B.S. in the Americas...the 11-story building would probably stir the ire of British taxpayers already reeling from a government bailout of more than $71 billion at today's exchange rate. But perhaps luckily for the workers here, those taxpayers are an ocean away.
Did the company ever consider "canceling the move in light of the bank's problems," the Times would like to know? Fuck no they didn't, and let me tell you why. Reason number one: the cash bonuses they didn't pay their employees for the past several years mostly made up for the costs associated with building this place. You know this is true because members of the staff were in such financial straits that they had to steal money from the firm. Reason number two: it's not like they didn't try to be sensitive to what people might think, which is why that sports bar? Was re-branded a "coffee bar." And reason number three: it makes everyone feel really good about themselves.
Executives say...the building has been a morale booster in tough times. "It's been a source of pride and kind of a rallying cry," said Robert McKillip, the other co-head of global banking and markets in the Americas. "We've been through a lot.
So you can take your guilt-trip, Times and British taxpayers, and whoever else and shove it. Your words can't hurt anyone safely ensconced in RBS-ville and in the unlikely event you did, they've got an on-site remedy for that, too. Elevator rides and happy endings.
The building's highlight is an elevator ride away from the entrance. Though R.B.S. combines consumer banking, insurance and trading under one roof, a button pressed for the sixth floor is a voyage to the bank's true nerve center: a trading floor as immense as an airport hanger....[there 's also] an outdoor terrace and a gym where workers can purchase massages.