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News from the Alba Team

“I believe in relationship banking, I always have”

We spoke to Alan Sim, Head of Lending, about life at Alba.

“There is a straight line between strategy, culture and the customer”.

“There’s a space in the market for a true direct relationship between SMEs and their bank.  I believe in relationships, not one-off transactions.  The Bank should be there to support its customers over the long term.  When I speak with accountants, lawyers, valuers, they all agree.”

“I’ve never met a SME management team that doesn’t like talking about their business.  It’s important we listen, understand their business model, their opportunities and challenges, providing appropriate funding solutions.”

“We’re a team with so much experience, it makes sense to tap into it.  I’m not just talking about one person speaking to the customer, while the rest of the bank knows nothing about them.  We’ll be most useful to customers when we pool our knowledge and experience across Credit and Business teams.”

“We have people who have worked in banking through several economic cycles; they know being short-termist and reactionary is rarely the best approach.  They have the perspective and business knowledge to take the long view.”

“I like to think of ourselves as a trusted sounding board.  Sometimes this means we’ll have different perspectives, maybe see a different way to provide funding for a business to move forward, but that’s where we’ll add value.”


“Trust comes from consistency and delivering what we say we’ll do”. For us that means credit-supported decisions.  That may sound a bit jargony, but it simply means engagement between Business Development and Credit Teams in looking at loan applications early on.  It can be really frustrating for a customer if the terms keep changing as an application progresses.  Our aim is to get an agreed position at an early stage and follow that through.”

“There is a strong bond across the Alba team.  We’ve come so far, so quickly.  We could not have done any of it without a culture of mutual support.  There’s an energy about the place, everybody is going in one direction.”

“We’re a small team, we rely on each other, we challenge each other to do better.  There’s no working in silos.  It’s fundamental to how we look after customers, and the whole Bank pulls together to make sure we meet our obligations and do the right thing.”

Finally, we asked Alan what single piece of advice he would give to people wanting to join Alba:

“You don’t get many chances to join a Bank in the early stages.  If you have the opportunity to join a well capitalised, well funded Bank with a clear purpose, vision and strong culture, where everyone’s input is valued, why wouldn’t you grab it with both hands?

To view our current vacancies please click here

News from the Alba Team

“We’re building a new culture, not just a bank. That’s really exciting”.

We spoke to Gill Cairns, Head of Outsourcing and Procurement, about life at Alba.

“For other banks, SMEs are just a small part of what they do. For Alba, they are why we exist.”

For other banks, SMEs may be just a small part of what they do. For Alba, they are why we exist. We built Alba literally from the ground up to serve SMEs, they are our bread and butter; everything is geared towards helping them grow.”

It’s rare to be there at ground zero, when you can build something new. We are only at the start of this journey; we are here for the long term. Alba gives a rare chance to grow the SME proposition with freedom to think differently. We have big plans to grow, to serve more SMEs, and we’re only taking the first steps right now.”

It’s about taking the longer term view. We’re new, and we’ll introduce more and more products and services over time. It’s the same for our customers; they’re looking to grow, their needs will evolve, and we’ll be there alongside them, offering support and encouragement.”

It’s the culture we are building that makes us different. We don’t operate in silos, limited to our functions. Everybody has a voice and a chance to contribute; not everything goes right first time, but that’s ok, we share the load, and that’s because we’ve all seen what can be achieved when we do.”

It’s probably not for those whose egos need to build empires – open communication, constructive feedback and working in small groups to solve problems means that we crack issues really quickly. When other people have better ideas than I do, I love that, because it always sparks a new idea in me and I’m off and running!”

Finally, we asked what single piece of advice Gill would give to people wanting to join Alba:

Bring your passion, and leave your ego at the door.  Talking of doors, you can simply stick your head around one and find people who are generous with their ideas and open to share. There is scope to stretch – you won’t end up leading an empire of thousands, but you’ll work with people who will involve you in new projects, and that will give you the chance to develop transferrable skills.”

To view our current vacancies please click here

News from the Alba Team

“I’d expected it to be busy, but I went from 0-60 almost immediately. I love it”.

 We spoke to Amy Paterson, Senior Risk Manager, who joined us just a few weeks ago, about how she’s finding life at Alba.

"Pressure creates diamonds. There is a collaborative spirit, regardless of how busy everyone is."

“I’m so proud to be working for a new bank based in Scotland. I’m a proud Scot; we’re known for our entrepreneurial spirit, straight talking and our drive. Ambitious businesses need partners like us, with the same eye on growth. When Alba launches this energy will be channelled to help SMEs both in Scotland and across the UK.”

“I’d expected a gentle start, but I was consulted from day 1.  In other jobs I’ve done it took a while for people to start including me. Alba makes a real effort to welcome new arrivals; everybody knew what I could do straight away, and sought my input on really important matters. It made me feel welcome, dispelled any nerves, and meant I was immediately learning new things.”

“What’s different about working for Alba? My immediate reaction is the people. The sheer knowledge and experience of those around me is amazing.  Everyone is super-busy but always ready to help. There is a collaborative spirit, which is really fulfilling.”

“For the first time I feel part of something. I spent 13 years in the big 5 banks and learned a lot. But those are enormous businesses, and it becomes all too easy to work in silos, rarely seeing how you affect the bigger picture. Because Alba is small I have already seen the impact I'm having as we build the bank.”

“I see my career as like parts of a car.  Alba is a chance to sit in the driving seat, to change gear, and to steer things. I don’t want to be a passenger. My job is to help SMEs get where they are trying to go, safely. Maybe there are bumps in the road, but managing risk is about understanding what could go wrong and checking everyone has their seatbelts on!”

“I am also Chair of Scottish Financial Enterprise Young Professionals. The whole idea is to develop a pipeline of talent, whether from schools, apprenticeships, Universities or businesses. We connect the leaders of tomorrow with the leaders of today, to arm our young members with the confidence, knowledge and skills for career progression.”

You’ll probably see a lot of overlap with how I have found Alba, and I’m delighted that Alba is a member. Investing in emerging talented people is so important; I’ll be encouraging all my colleagues to get involved.”

Finally, we asked what single piece of advice Amy would give to people wanting to join Alba.

“Go for it! It's a unique opportunity, a rare chance, which doesn't come around very often.

Joining something so early in its life can feel like a risk - you can’t hide. But Alba is game-changing, challenging, and unique in exciting ways.

Even if you don’t see the exact job for you right now, think of your transferrable skills.  I’ve already had the chance to shape my job around mine. We’re always happy to hear from people interested in working with us, so just drop us a line.”

To view our current vacancies please click here

News from the Alba Team

"Not many people get to build a new bank."

"We're going to make such a difference for SMEs. It's a partnership”. We spoke to Allan Ellis, Head of Operations, about his experiences working for Alba.

"3 words I would use to describe working for Alba? Ambitious, Dynamic, Customer-focused"

"I've learnt more working for Alba & new bank start-ups than in 14 years working for the old "top 5" banks. It's chalk and cheese. You're not pigeon-holed, you get to run with your ideas, and people listen to you. I own my destiny and hierarchy is not a thing - no matter what grade you are, you have a voice.

"Death by Powerpoint? No risk of that! We are rock-solid on governance; being a bank you have to do things right. But it's too easy to hide behind presentations and not stand up, express your opinion and be accountable. At Alba, we take responsibility and whilst it exposes you to challenge, it's challenge that helps you grow.

"Building a new bank is something special. It's unique. In the big banks I could be there for years and pass through without many people knowing I existed; at Alba I'm within a stone's throw of pretty much the whole team. It's just very satisfying because I remember, in previous jobs, timelines were so far away and you were so removed from change. Here at Alba roles are tailored around your skills and you are allowed to flourish. 

If you can do something you are allowed to run with it; you don't have to pass off to others. And above all, you have to move quickly and do things right. The lasting impact will be to look back one day and say "I was part of something special there". That's unique, not many places can offer that. 

"We're going to make such a difference for SMEs. We will take the time to really understand what makes them tick and their specific needs, where they are trying to get to, and how we can help. It's about a partnership, speaking frankly to each other and exploring ideas. We will use technology to support making sound lending decisions, not have it as the driver or to get in the way of customers, great people at the heart of everything what will set Alba apart. I’m so excited about us launching.

Finally, we asked Allan what advice he would give to somebody interested in working for Alba: 

"Strap in - it's a wild ride! You can flourish at Alba - if you're ambitious, flexible, confident to go outside your comfort zone, and like a fast paced, varied environment where no two days are the same.  If you want a chance to shine, to take responsibility and build a legacy ... Alba is the place for you.”


To view our current vacancies please click here

We’re building a new bank to help UK SMEs grow, powered by UK savers.

Sounds good, right? But what does this really mean for savers? We asked our colleague Ewan Edwards, Head of Products at Alba, to elaborate.

"Because we’re building Alba from the ground up, that gives us a blank canvas to do savings right."

“Alba was founded to help UK small and medium sized enterprises grow, with an emphasis on the long view.

It’s about trust and relationships, and the same goes for savers.  If we make a loan to a customer, the money comes from UK savers, both individuals and businesses, who have entrusted their money to us. We have a duty to put it to good use, and supporting UK businesses is just that.

It goes without saying that for a customer to save with us they expect value, by which I mean products with competitive rates and no catches. They expect to be treated fairly. And, of course, they also expect their money to be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.  Those are probably really obvious, and we tick all those boxes.

Because we’re building Alba from the ground up, that gives us a blank canvas to do savings right.

With any building, you have to get the foundations right, which for customers means:

  1. Make it really simple to apply for products, let me send documents electronically and give me an answer quickly
  2. Keep my money secure, but don’t put up barriers when I want to use it. When I want to move it, guarantee that it will get to the right place, quickly and safely
  3. Keep my information private, away from prying eyes.

By getting these right, we’ll be off to a flying start when we launch.” says Ewan.

Let’s unpick what ‘simple’ actually means.

“You know how, with some companies, one hand doesn’t seem to talk to the other?” explains Ewan.  “That’s because they are built on lots of legacy systems that have to be spliced together.  It means things take time, customers have to repeat themselves, and obstacles pop up all over.

We call this ‘friction’, but customers call it annoying.

Making things simple for the customer is really complex.  The advantage of building Alba from scratch is that everything is focussed on the customer experience. Products are designed to offer fair value, it's really easy to find all the information about a product you're interested in, and customers only have to give us information once. It also gives us flexibility to adapt, quickly, so as customer needs change, so can we.

Finally, to me 'simple' can be just talking to someone; we have real people in our support team, based near Glasgow, available by email or phone to help with any questions customers may have when we start to take deposits."

So 'powered by UK savers' is a win:win - offer simple, attractive savings products which help UK SMEs to grow.

Please note: Alba Bank are not yet open to trade and are in a ‘mobilisation’ phase whilst we prepare everything required to achieve full regulatory approval to enable us to take deposits and start lending.

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