I spent a morning last week judging the Financial Services Forum Awards for Marketing Effectiveness at the offices of Metro Bank‘s first branch in Holborn.

This ambitious new player is the first new high street bank to launch in the UK for over 100 years. It is the brainchild of Anthony Thomson and Vernon Hill. Anthony brings a huge amount of experience from a career spent in advertising and communications and Vernon founded and built Commerce Bank in the US growing to over 500 retail branches. They have the pedigree to really challenge the UK market.

Here are some snaps of the offices and branch. What was great is a real sense of the challenger brand going against the lazy ways of the incumbents. The branch is open, fun and the staff were even smiling. Vernon and Anthony were “on the floor” with Vernon’s little dog following around the office.

It all looks great  but I think the thing that will make the real difference are the ways that Metro Bank is being set up. There are many advantages that completely new businesses have especially in banking. From the infrastructure:  no legacy systems to integrate with, all data on systems that can be scaled and are cutting edge; to the way that customer service staff work both on phone banking and in branch interchangeably. It’s these advantages that will make the real difference in delivering a truly better customer experience that might just get people to switch.

And from what Anthony tells me new customer numbers are exceeding all their expectations – maybe the UK customer isn’t so inert when presented with something genuinely new, different and better.

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Justin Basini

Entrepreneur, author of Why Should Anyone Buy From YOU?, blogger (, business, brand and marketing thinker and do-er, husband and dad


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