Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British Economy


  • 08/10/2013
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An Evening Panel Discussion on the topic of Iain Martin’s new book on the UK’s economic meltdown and what can be learnt from RBS’s involvement in the financial crisis. The event will be followed by a drinks reception.


  • Mark Littlewood (Chairman)

  • Iain Martin, Journalist and author of Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British Economy

  • Iain Allan, Visiting Professor, Cass Business School and former Group Director, Strategy at RBS

  • Allister Heath, Editor, City AM

  • Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP for Chichester

If you’d like to attend, please email or call us on 020 7799 8900.

About the book:

Published on the 5th anniversary of the financial crisis, MAKING IT HAPPEN reveals how Fred Goodwin became the world’s biggest banker and lifts the lid on the desperate attempts to stop RBS going bust.  With exclusive interviews with many of the key players and controversial revelations, it includes…

  • How an obsession with irrelevant details – designing filing cabinets, throwing tantrums over the design of the Christmas card – blinded Goodwin to bigger dangers.

  • For the first time tells the inside story of the American investment bankers who made tens of millions for themselves stuffing RBS with products made from sub-prime mortgages which helped destroy the bank

  • The £200m+ of shareholder cash spent on lavish sponsorship and corporate entertainment

  • How Goodwin ended up with such a giant pension pot.

  • Who really knighted Fred Goodwin.

  • The inside story of George Osborne’s sacking of Goodwin’s successor Stephen Hester.

When RBS collapsed and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer in the financial crisis of October 2008 it played a leading role in tipping Britain into its deepest economic downturn in seven decades. The economy shrank, bank lending froze, hundreds of thousands lost their jobs, living standards are still falling and Britons will be paying higher taxes for decades to pay the clean-up bill.  How on earth had a small Scottish bank grown so quickly to become a global financial giant that could do such immense damage when it collapsed?

At the centre of the story was Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive known as “Fred the Shred” who terrorised some of his staff and beguiled others. Not a banker by training, he nonetheless was given control of RBS and set about trying to make it one of the biggest brands in the world. It was said confidently that computerisation and new banking products had made the world safer. Only they hadn’t…

Based on more than 80 interviews and with access to diaries and papers kept by those at the heart of the meltdown, this is the definitive account of the RBS disaster, a disaster which still casts such a shadow over our economy. In MAKING IT HAPPEN, senior executives, board members, Treasury insiders and regulators reveal how the bank’s mania for expansion led it to take enormous risks its leaders didn’t understand.

From the birth of the Royal Bank in 18th century Scotland, to the manic expansion under Fred Goodwin in the middle of a mad boom and culminating in the epoch-defining collapse, MAKING IT HAPPEN is the full, extraordinary story.

Iain Martin is a journalist and broadcaster. He comes from Paisley (as does Fred Goodwin). Iain was editor of The Scotsman newspaper from 2001-2004, and then its sister paper Scotland on Sunday from 2004-2006. In 2006 he moved to The Sunday Telegraph, where he was deputy editor. He has since been a columnist on politics for various newspapers: The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail. He contributes to Financial News and Standpoint magazine. He has presented editions of Beyond Westminster, Week in Westminster and What the Papers Say for BBC Radio 4. He lives in London.

You can pre-order Making it Happen here.