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6 years old: Metro Bank’s MD Retail reflects on the youngest UK bank

Metro Bank burst onto the FS scene amid global financial turmoil, and a lack of trust in banks. Has the customer experience gamble paid off after six years of high street banking?

When Metro Bank burst onto the financial services scene six years ago, the industry, and the world itself, was still reeling from the shock of the global financial crisis.

A level of distrust entered into the public mind frame and the banking sector knew it had to work hard to win back customer loyalty, in an era of diminishing business fealty, and rapid digitization of financial services.

This melee of factors provided an opportunity for a new style of bank, and Metro Bank secured its place in history by becoming the first new bank to open on the UK high street in over 100 years.

Over half a decade however is a long time in technology, but Iain Kirkpatrick, Retail Managing Director at Metro Bank, believes that his company’s edge is still as relevant today as it was six years ago.

“What we’ve learned [in six years] is that there’s definitely space for a new bank, and customers really value our approach. The customer banking service part of what we offer is really important.”

Metro Bank’s customer banking service is unique in its sector because its products and services are made with the customer and ease of use in mind: high street banks do not require booking for services, UK call centres are on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it has removed many arbitrary steps from financial tasks such as setting up a bank account.

Earlier this year Metro Bank publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange, and now has 41 stores across Greater London and surrounding counties.

The differentiated operational model has held them in good stead, Kirkpatrick believes.

“The belief was, and still is, that the main incumbent banks under serve customers in the UK. When we’re driving customers to our digital channels, others want to reduce costs and create a worse experience.”

Kirkpatrick and his team believe that technology advances in the sector also benefit their customer banking service as people continually aim for a more satisfying overall consumer journey.