Ty­coons bank­ing on a bet­ter way

The Scotsman - - International -

LESS than three years ago, few at the tiny Air­drie Sav­ings Bank ever imag­ined that a group of Scot­land’s lead­ing busi­ness­men would be beat­ing a path to the door to put in some £10 mil­lion to help ex­pan­sion. how the world has changed. The pres­ti­gious names in­clude Brian Souter, Sir Tom Farmer, Sir David Mur­ray, Alastair Salvesen and the for­mer Royal Bank of Scot­land di­rec­tor Sir An­gus Grossart.

Now £10 mil­lion may be big for the Air­drie Sav­ings Bank, but it is tiny in re­la­tion to the cap­i­tal be­hind the big be­he­moths. So why do it? It is what the ges­ture rep­re­sents that car­ries weight.

Sev­eral fac­tors will have weighed strongly. one would be a con­cern to main­tain di­ver­sity in Scot­tish bank­ing. An­other would have been to stim­u­late com­pe­ti­tion, much im­paired by the emer­gency merger of Lloyds TSB and hBoS. But the key con­sid­er­a­tions are a de­sire to help a mu­tu­ally-owned bank that has stuck to its knit­ting and avoided the ex­cesses that led to the de­ba­cle. And then there is the blow sus­tained to Scot­tish pride by the mis­for­tunes that be­fell its two largest head­quar­tered banks and a de­sire to pro­mote a gen­uinely Scot­tish bank that can point the way to a fu­ture un­en­cum­bered by high-risk de­riv­a­tive trad­ing and sky-high bonuses.

That this barely be­gins to make an im­pact on the bank­ing mar­ket pales be­fore the sig­nal it sends from en­trepreneurs who know from ex­pe­ri­ence how vi­tal it is for a bank­ing model based on meet­ing the needs of cus­tomers and gen­uinely re­flect­ing their val­ues.

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