ROYAL Bank of Scotland could take a further 10 years to recover from its tarnished reputation following its role in the financial crisis and a string of scandals, the lender’s chief executive has warned.

Ross McEwan said despite the bank regaining its financial footing – recording its first annual profit since its £45 billion bailout a decade ago earlier this year – customers are yet to fully trust the once “global titan”.

“There are two things that any financial service organisation has ... one is our financial strength and the second is our reputation,” he said.

“And what RBS did 10 years ago, it had lost both of those.

“It got very close to collapse and with that went its financial reputation. And we’ve been hit with reputational issues as a consequence of what happened in the financial crisis, from conduct to litigation issues to GRG [the Global Restructuring Group] to all sorts of issues that over the last 10 years have embroiled this organisation.”

RBS – which is still 62% owned by the UK taxpayer – earlier this year reached a 4.9bn US dollar (£3.8bn) settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) over the mis-selling of residential mortgage-backed securities between 2005 and 2008.

While RBS has not admitted the allegations put forward by US authorities, documents released by the DoJ show RBS bankers admitted that they were selling “total f***ing garbage” to investors and made light of destroying the housing market in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

The bank’s now-defunct Global Restructuring Group (GRG) was caught up in a separate scandal, having been accused by victims of pushing firms towards failure in the hope of picking up assets on the cheap, but was let off the hook by the UK regulator in July.

Those scandals have contributed to a drop in public esteem for the bank, which McEwan said resulted in a “fall from grace”.

RBS recently came at the bottom of service rankings by the Competition and Market Authority for both business and retail banking, though other brands under the RBS Group umbrella – NatWest and Ulster – fared slightly better.

McEwan added that former executives “made a mess of mistakes”, but that they were caught up in a quest for growth that led to the bank’s near-collapse.

“It’s pretty clear that RBS got a lot of things wrong in the lead up to the financial crisis. But like many other banks, growth was the big agenda.

“Everybody wanted scale, everybody saw that was the way to get more profitable and I think we got caught up, being RBS, in that euphoria for growth and being big.

McEwan also went on to acknowledge RBS’s role in the financial collapse.

“We were very much part of it and I think we forgot why we, as a bank, were here – which was to serve customers – and like many other banks they really started to think they were to serve their own needs and the shareholders’ needs only.

“So, look, we were a big part of it – particularly here in the UK. We weren’t on our own, but were were certainly a big part of it.”