ROYAL Bank of Scotland is facing a fresh complication after its chief financial officer decided to leave.

The taxpayer-owned lender said Ewen Stevenson had resigned after four years in post to take up an opportunity elsewhere, without giving details.

The bank said the date of Mr Stevenson’s departure has yet to be confirmed and he will remain in his position to oversee an orderly handover of his responsibilities.

It has begun the search for a successor.

However, Mr Stevenson’s decision seems likely to pose challenges for RBS. It comes amid reports the government is keen to reduce its 72 per cent holding in the bank by selling shares as soon as possible. Banking sources have said a £3bn share sale is in prospect.

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan highlighted the role that Mr Stevenson has played in the effort to return the bank to health in the wake of the £45bn bail out provided by taxpayers during the financial crisis.

“For the past four years Ewen has worked tirelessly with me and my executive team to make RBS a much simpler, safer and more customer focussed business and to resolve a number of major legacy challenges,” said Mr McEwan.

“When Ewen leaves RBS he will go with my enormous thanks and best wishes, he has been a fantastic CFO.”

Mr Stevenson earned £3.3 million total remuneration from RBS last year.

The New Zealander joined RBS in 2014 after spending 25 years in investment banking at Credit Suisse.