I have been in Edinburgh most of this week attending the annual investment conference of the National Association of Pension Funds but took time out yesterday to pay a visit to the Charlotte Square headquarters of Scoban which on Tuesday was told by the Prudential Regulation Authority that it was to get its banking licence – the first to do so under the new regulatory regime.
The brainchild of Ray Entwistle, the senior Scoban team all met when they were together running Adam Bank. This was the private bank owned by RBS.
Mr Entwistle is clear in his vision to create a bank “based around the true values and traditions of the great British private bank where the service is rendered on an entirely personal basis via dedicated and highly-trained discreet personnel”. You would think the regulator would leap at the chance to get behind a business dedicated to recreating banking as it used to be – and perhaps it is – but there is no denying the process has been slow.
It is interesting that the reputation of private banks suffered almost as much as that of the majors in the banking crisis, albeit for a different reason. Clients found too often that what they had thought was a personal relationship with a banker was in fact a passing acquaintance with a salesman. So managing director Graeme Hartop is surely spot on when he says. “We are told regularly that stability, continuity of personal and intelligent speedy decisions are the key points in a client relationship and we will provide this high-quality service.”
The catch of course is that this probably will not come cheap. But it sounds like it will be worth it for those who can afford it.