support for ‘a model of a traditional savings institution’
IT MAY not have been meant as a slap in the face to Scotland’s post-crash banking establishment. But that is how many will see it.
Some of the country’s leading entrepreneurs, who would struggle to have made it in today’s drought conditions for lending to small firms, are backing the expansion of a tiny Scottish bank with £10 million of their own money.
It may be a drop in the bucket in relation to the Scottish banking market. But its signifi- cance in the signal it sends. For it echoes a keenly felt desire across Scotland’s business community to see the growth and expansion of a genuinely Scottish bank that has survived on a culture and ethos that once made Scottish banking respected the world over.
But Stagecoach boss Brian Souter left little doubt that it is a rebuke: “We are doing this because so many Scots are dismayed at what has happened within the banking sector.”
“It is a supportive gesture”, said Sir Angus Grossart yesterday. “It’s a model of a traditional savings institution for which there is scope in the market place.”
But for Sir David Murray it is also an affirmation of the im- portance of family businesses. “Families are of real importance to the Scottish economy – the Salvesens, the Souters, the Thomsons. They have played a critical role in the promotion of Scottish business and continue to do so. We don’t get grants or government support. We have to weather the storms and get on.”
Heestimates that Scottish family businesses employ between 25,000 and 30,000. Others will see it as vindication that banks don’t need to be behemoths to draw business support.