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A new challenger

Alba was designed with the business customer in mind. Alba aims to be a new Scottish based business bank on a mission to help fuel economic growth through direct lending to SMEs in Scotland and the wider UK regions. 

Alba is led by an experienced team who share a passion to transform SME customer banking; Alba will offer an intimate knowledge of the banking sector with an extensive relationship network and strong personal reputations. Our initial investors are successful business people who recognised the need for a new bank to help business owners in the UK.

Alba’s specialised, relationship-centric service proposition has been designed to address specific segments in the UK banking sector. Its core focus is the SMEs market, where traditional banks have ‘industrialised’ their operating model through a reduction in customer-facing personnel. As a result, relationship banking has been devalued and banking ‘automated’.

Why we’re here

Alba aims to be a new bank with a clear vision and purpose – to support small and medium-sized businesses as they develop their aspirations, grow and realise their potential.

We know that SMEs are not given the right level of time and attention by the banking industry, yet SMEs are the backbone of the British economy, driving growth and creating employment.

Alba will help SMEs grow by applying specialist expertise and insight while forming strong and lasting relationships with our future customers.

Alba’s proposition

Since the financial crisis of 2008/09, we have experienced a tremendous shift in attitudes towards business lending from the major UK banks.

Challenger banks, predominantly in the south of England, have emerged to address this opportunity. The recent increase in small Challenger banks across the UK is due in part to the funding gap at the SMEs end of the lending market. Market consolidation and lending behaviour of the high street banks have put the onus on smaller lending institutions in the UK to fill a funding gap for SMEs of between £5bn-£12bn.

Centralisation of decision-making and automation of loans below £2m-£4m have made it increasingly difficult for high street banks to satisfy SMEs’ requirements. SMEs report that their bank account providers do not maintain effective working relationships with business owners, while ‘relationship managers’ have little or no understanding of SMEs and their business plans. SMEs also report difficulties in obtaining bank finance and cite slow response times as a factor holding back development and growth plans.

Alba’s ambition is to be a trusted business bank by bringing back the craft of relationship banking. SMEs form the largest part of the UK economy. More than 99% of the 5.9m private businesses in the UK are SMEs, accounting for roughly 60% of total employment in the private sector. The industrialisation, centralisation and dehumanisation of high street banks are restricting SMEs’ access to credit.

Alba’s philosophy will be to understand each SME individually and to build relationships on comprehension and trust. Alba’s experienced relationship and credit bankers, combined with its state-of-the-art technology platforms, will deliver this key point of difference.

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