Charles Winter

Charles Winter (1933-96) worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland, 1949-1992, including serving as chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, 1985-92.

Background and early life

Charles Milne Winter was born in Dundee on 21 July 1933, the son of David and Annie Winter. He went to school at Harris Academy, Dundee.

When Winter was 16 his Boys’ Brigade captain, who was also the local bank manager, mentioned that he was looking for a new apprentice. Winter successfully applied for the post.

The Royal Bank of Scotland

Charles Winter began work as apprentice at Dundee Lochee branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland at the end of 1949. Two years later, at the age of 18, he was called up for national service, but after completing his period with the RAF he returned to Lochee branch in 1953.

In 1956 he transferred to the bank’s head office in Edinburgh, where he worked for some years in the department of the Superintendent of Branches. In 1964 he was appointed personal assistant to the bank’s General Manager. At that time, serving a period as the General Manager’s personal assistant was seen as a valuable career step for anyone aspiring to reach the top of the bank.

In the late 1960s he spent some years in management at the bank’s large office in Dundee, before returning to head office, and to the department of the Superintendent of Branches. He remained there for seven years, initially as Assistant Superintendent and later as Superintendent.

From 1977 he took on increasingly senior roles. In 1981 he became a director of the bank, and in 1982 he became Managing Director. In 1985 the Royal Bank of Scotland and its English and Welsh sister Williams & Glyn’s Bank merged. The role of chief executive of the parent company, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, thus became more significant than it had been when the two banks were managed separately. Winter became Group Chief Executive in 1985.

Charles Winter served as Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group until January 1992. During those years the bank underwent significant changes and developments, including the integration of the Royal Bank of Scotland and Williams & Glyn’s; the early success and rapid development of Direct Line (1985 onwards); and the acquisition of Citizens Financial Group in the US (1988).

Charles Winter retired from the post of Group Chief Executive in January 1992, but became Vice Chairman of both the Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland. He retired from those roles in 1993.

At the time of his retirement, it was noted that Charles Winter was perhaps the last of the breed of top-level Scottish bankers who had entered banking straight from school as 16-year-old apprentices.

Other roles

Charles Winter was a member of the Institute of Bankers in Scotland, and was placed second in the membership examinations, which he took in 1957. He was elected to the Institute’s council in 1979, and later served as vice president and president of the council. He was president of the Institute of Bankers in Scotland, 1981-3.

He also served as the chairman of the Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers, 1983-5 and 1989-91.

He served as a director of Scottish Financial Enterprise; president of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures; director-general of the Scottish Chamber of Commerce; chairman of Sinfonia of Scotland; and honorary treasurer of The Boys’ Brigade.

He was awarded a CBE in 1990.

Leisure interests and family life

Charles Winter married Audrey Hynd in 1957. They had a son and a daughter together.

He enjoyed golf, describing himself as ‘an enthusiastic but totally incompetent player’. He also loved music; he played the piano and served as organist at his local church.


Charles Winter died at home in Longniddry, East Lothian on 15 May 1996.