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Stephen Hester: ‘even my parents think I’m overpaid’

The RBS chief believes his early days working in a sweet factory mean he can identify with the average earner

Stephen Hester was given the task of turning around the failing RBS group by the government in November 2008 with a salary of £1.2m a year. The 51-year-old Oxford graduate left as chief executive of property company British Land to take on the role, succeeding Sir Fred Goodwin.

Hester began his working life as personal assistant to the chairman of Credit Suisse before becoming the bank’s youngest managing director and later group finance director.He left to join Abbey National where he became chief operating officer, before joining British Land.

As a successful businessman, he has enjoyed a lavish lifestyle and has three homes including a 350-acre estate in Oxfordshire.

Hester was given a brief to restructure RBS and return it to health after the government used around £45bn of taxpayers’ money to rescue the bank during the credit crunch.

His latest bonus is down from 2010, when he was awarded a shares-based bonus of £2m, but there had been calls from trade unions and politicians to cancel his bonus all together.

More than 30,000 jobs have been cut since Hester took over RBS three years ago.

In an interview in 2009, Hester claimed his upbringing and work in a sweet factory had taught him the value of money and he could identify with the average earner. “Even my parents think I’m overpaid. That’s not to say they’re not proud of me, but it’s a long way from the world I grew up in,” he said. “My first job was packing Polos in a factory so I don’t need anyone to tell me what it’s like being a normal person on normal amounts of money.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds