David Duffy (left) and Paul Reeves head of customer banking Birmingham
Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group chief executive officer David Duffy visits the banks new B store in Birmingham and talks to BQ.
CYBG is the owner of the Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank and its digital B brand, and is a bank with a long history. It was spun off from National Australia Bank at the beginning of 2016, determined to combine its strong foundation with new ideas to better serve customers and attract the next generation to bank with it.
In September it marked the first phase of its expansion, opening its next generation B store in Birmingham’s city centre. As well as being a fully operational bank branch for its B and Yorkshire Bank customers, the B store is a showcase for customers to experience CYBG’s digital innovations and a state-of-the-art business banking centre.
David Duffy, chief executive officer at CYBG, said: “Our core strategy is to support our customers’ ambitions and sustainably grow the business both in the Midlands, the North of England and Scotland, as well as selectively on a national basis. The launch of our next generation B store in Birmingham has been a hugely exciting milestone on this journey.
“B continues to go from strength to strength we now have more than 100,000 B customers nationally and our Birmingham store provides an exciting and inspiring new location to let customers experience the digital innovations we are delivering right across our business.
“It also enables us to increase our small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) banking presence in one of the UK’s most vibrant regional economies.”
Birmingham was a natural choice for the business as it’s a market that is growing significantly and the bank sees great potential for future opportunities. Duffy says “The number of businesses setting up in the city is twice the national average; it’s home to a wealth of skills across both the manufacturing and services sectors, and the tech and creative industries are emerging as a hub for top new talent. Not to mention Birmingham has been named the most investable city in the UK for the past two years.
“We opened our doors on New Street just over two months ago. Since then, the response from the city has been hugely positive. We’re very pleased with how things are shaping up and there’s a great atmosphere in the store.
“We’ve welcomed nearly 1,000 new customers since September and we’re proving popular with Birmingham’s younger generation. Most of our new customers are under the age of 45. After two months in Birmingham, we’ve committed to £500,000 of lending in personal loans and a further £1m in mortgage approvals. And this is just the beginning.”
CYBG is also helping to fuel the growth of SMEs across the Midlands, North of England and Scotland. In 2017 the bank pledged to lend £6bn of SME lending over three years between 2017 and 2019. With over £2bn of lending committed in 2017, CYBG’s target is on track.
Duffy adds “SMEs are vital to fuelling the West Midland’s economy – we are working with businesses across a number of sectors, including automotive, healthcare and transport. We want to ensure businesses have access to the right support and finance at the right times. Through our Yorkshire Bank and B brands, we have made supporting SMEs in the region a strategic priority.
“The potential benefits for SMEs in the West Midlands do not stop there. Our technology is designed to drive down costs as well as eventually offering applications such as accounting, invoicing and payroll systems so entrepreneurs can spend more time getting on with business.
“We’re also working hard to become part of the local community and are developing partnerships across the city. For example, we have had students from the Birmingham City University to our lab to work on branding ideas and concepts and we’ve made a conscious effort to get to know stakeholders, hosting a series of events and welcome meetings.
“We have had a phenomenal start with B in Birmingham. It’s no surprise to us that Birmingham is booming and we will be there to support our customers and our SMEs as this city goes from strength to strength.”
Duffy joined the bank in early 2016. He came to CYBG after four years with the then state-owned AIB, where he was responsible for the Irish bank’s turnaround and transformation into a modern bank. Duffy is a huge believer in technology, but he is also committed to combining technology with the best of the past. He has overseen a £350m investment programme at CYBG to deliver the bank’s digital aspirations.
He says: “Technology has raised customer expectations of all industries. At CYBG, we are creating a banking service that compares favourably not just with other financial institutions but the best digital providers anywhere.
“Our innovative B brand is building a new relationship with customers by bringing some of the easy-to-use technology they are familiar with from their smartphone and social media to the banking industry.”
The new B store gives customers the opportunity to try out new technologies and services being developed by CYBG in Studio B, its dedicated innovation lab that opened in London in April.
CYBG has created a platform called iB, which enables the bank to integrate and connect to fintech partners. It provides big data insights that help customers make better decisions and take greater control over their money.
He adds: “The key reason we are so optimistic about the future is the fact that we have one of the most robust and flexible operating platforms in UK banking – that’s why B is able to do all the amazing things it can do.
“At the heart of B is the intelligent use of data. By tagging transactions for our customers, we can understand more about their spending patterns.
“That might mean a customer receives a message from us on Saturday before going on the regular grocery shop to remind them of their food budget this month. Or it could mean automatically depositing a fixed amount in their savings account when the current account goes over a certain level.
“In the future, it might mean helping to save money with recommendations for a cheaper energy tariff, or using biometrics of selfies to check a balance. We are still learning what will work best.”
Since regaining its independence in February 2016, CYBG is pursuing a growth agenda with a full-service bank based right in the heart of the northern regional economies. It’s Duffy’s belief that CYBG is the true challenger to the five banks that still dominate this industry. With 2.8 million customers, it is large enough to offer a full service of products to personal customers and small businesses.
Duffy says “With 6,500 staff embedded in their communities, we are small enough to move fast to capture new opportunities, trial emerging technologies and care about our customer needs.
“Combining new technology with the best of the past will make our scale an advantage as the banking landscape changes.
“But we don’t want to be a smaller version of a big bank. I believe that by investing and simplifying our organisation we can deliver better banking for customers.”