A diverse supply chain has been highlighted as being a key factor for driving success at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

That is the opinion of Jonathan Sutherland, the bank's head of procurement, and he also noted that the participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is crucial for the long-term success of RBS. He explained that this move is good business and a "strategic imperative" for the organisation due to the fact that the bank has the most SME customers serving 32 per cent of the sector. This means that its fortunes are closely linked with the success of these companies and what he described as "growth makers".

Speaking at the ProcureCon Indirect conference, reported by Supply Management, Mr Sutherland outlined that the performance of smaller SMEs in terms of supply chain jobs is indicative in the success of RBS in months and years going forward. He noted that the bank needs to support the sector through buying products and services from it.

RBS has already taken a number of steps to put these plans in motion by establishing an executive steering group with representatives from across its organisation. The aim is to set up a registration portal for companies to declare interest and learn more about potential opportunities.

Mr Sutherland said: “A healthy SME market is a healthy client base, which is a healthy RBS, so why would we not be [supporting SMEs through our supply chain]? There is a strategic imperative for us in this. For us it’s a case of strategy, not philanthropy.”

RBS recently lost its global head of money markets and portfolio investment management after Neil Hookway announced that he would be leaving to join independent provider of advisory, business consulting IT and software services to the investment banking community, Rule Financial.

Mr Hookway took over as principal consultant in the Domain Group and has previously worked in RBS' eurozone contingency preparation programme and will set his his new post with immediate effect.