Tycoons banking on a better way
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.