Royal Bank of Scotland

Founded in 1727, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is a large international banking and financial services company with operations in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Asia, serving over 30 million customers worldwide.

The Group provides a wide range of products and services to personal, commercial and large corporate and institutional customers through its two principal subsidiaries, The Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, as well as through a number of other well-known brands including Citizens, Charter One, Ulster Bank, Coutts, Direct Line, and Churchill.

The Group has an extensive geographical reach across Britain through its network of relationship managers based in branches and business centres.


In 2011 RBS and its associated advisor businesses defined its Retail Distribution Review proposition. Part of that proposition was the use of the Standard Life Premier Account Platform and its investor risk profiler, which was developed by Oxford Risk. Oxford Risk provided RBS with a stand-alone version of the profiler, which was deployed in paper form and scored by an application on advisors’ laptops. This was trialled for several months and was well received, by both RBS advisors and their clients.

In 2012 RBS wished to develop this platform for their retail market and implement a new and improved Customer Risk Profiler with wider applicability. In particular the new profiler was to be more suitable for the intended target investor populations, including higher net worth individuals; compliant with the latest FSA Guidance, for example in identifying customers with a ‘no-risk’ preference; and calibrated to the 7 RBS specific Risk Tolerance categories.

The resulting profiler was to be branded for both RBS and NatWest, and delivered as a secure standalone application to be run on advisors laptops.


Oxford Risk developed the RBS Retail Risk Tolerance Assessment to meet RBS’s requirement.

The profiler was a fully customised instrument. The question set was derived through a rigorous qualitative and quantitative process. The qualitative stages ensured that the items were clear and meaningful to the intended investors, whilst the quantitative stages ensured that the final question set was valid, accurate and reliable.

The RBS Retail Risk Tolerance Assessment comprises 18 psychometric questions to evaluate a client’s willingness to take risk, their composure in the face of short-term falls in value, and whether they are unduly focused on risks or reward. The assessment also reports on the consistency of a client’s responses and whether they have unusual response patterns.


RBS advisors have used the assessment extensively. They find it is clear and unambiguous, and easy for their clients to complete. Moreover the advisors find the extra information on whether the client is likely to be particularly anxious about short-term falls in value, or disproportionately concerned about risks or rewards, very useful in selecting the most suitable investments. The new assessment, together with improved processes, has made client engagement more straightforward and more informative. Clients see the assessment, and the dialogue it prompts, as real evidence their advisor is considering their requirements and not merely eager to sell to them.