September 29, 2014 / 3:18 PM / 4 years ago

RBS to invest $1.6 billion on services to corporate clients

People walk past a branch of The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in central London August 27, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - State-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) said on Monday it would invest more than 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) to improve services for its commercial and corporate customers.

The bank is keen to improve its image among small business customers after accusations about how its turnaround division dealt with struggling firms and the mis-selling of interest rate hedging products.

RBS said the investment, which will be made between 2014 and 2018, would result in simpler and quicker services for customers including account opening and lending, with most lending decisions being made within five days.

“The investment we’ve pledged today will speed up account opening, simplify lending processes and provide tailored tools to help our people support customers better,” said RBS’s Chief Executive Commercial and Private Banking Alison Rose.

The investment includes RBS setting up eight new regional business hubs to support entrepreneurs. The bank will also increase training for staff enabling relationship managers to make more decisions locally for their customers.

Tasked with recovering loans from customers struggling to pay, RBS’s turnaround division came under fire last year when UK government advisor Lawrence Tomlinson accused the division of pushing small businesses to collapse and then profiting from their demise.

An independent report commissioned by RBS, which is 80 percent owned by the government, cleared the bank of attempting to defraud its customers.

Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Steve Slater

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