Market Leaders Pick Their Market Leader: Who is the banker who carries most credit?
Wednesday 14 April 1999
Chief Executive, NatWest Bank
GIVEN THE many changes that are taking place in retail banking, I would nominate my colleague, Tim Jones, who heads NatWest's retail bank. To be successful in financial services management, you need to be creative as well as having sound financial management skills. Tim has both. He led the team that invented Mondex, the electronic cash purse, helped to pioneer Switch, and he is now responsible for the transformation of NatWest's retail bank into one of the most advanced banking systems anywhere in the world.
From an external perspective, I share everyone's admiration for Sir Brian Pitman, of Lloyds TSB. His contribution to the financial services industry over many years including his commitment to achieving ever improving returns to shareholders are obvious for all to see. He has a formidable track record, combining a far-sighted vision for his own organisation with solid banker values.
Chief Executive, Co-op Bank
FOR VISION and integrity, I nominate my own predecessor Lord Thomas. His determination to publicise the fact that what retail banks actually do is to look after their customers' own money, and that those same customers deserve to know and have a say in how their money is invested, was courageous and laid the foundations for our ethical stance and success.
For business acumen, quiet influence and achievement, I have long admired an often unsung hero, Richard Delbridge, director and CFO of NatWest Group. Richard's career includes the same roles at HSBC and Midland Bank and as UK head of J P Morgan. I am impressed with NatWest's recent surefootedness in refocusing itself. Richard's steady hand has undoubtedly played its usual key role.
And, no list could be complete without Peter Ellwood, Lloyds TSB's CEO. Peter is an outstanding example of that rare ability to combine strategy formulation with effective implementation.
Group Chief Executive, Alliance & Leicester plc
RETAIL BANKING has changed dramatically during the 1990s with a much greater understanding of the need to improve efficiency and customer service while at the same time focusing on increasing shareholder value. On these criteria it is difficult to look beyond Sir Brian Pitman who, as chief executive of Lloyds Bank (now the Lloyds TSB Group), took what was the smallest of the clearing banks to a leading position in the UK market. His decision to concentrate on a largely domestic strategy while other banks made expensive forays into investment banking et al has been fully vindicated.
Another market leader is Peter Birch who took Abbey National to the stock market in 1989 and helped to show that converted building societies have nothing to fear from the commercial marketplace.
Managing Director at Barclays Retail Financial Services
IT WOULD be difficult to talk about personalities in retail banking without mentioning Sir Brian Pitman of Lloyds TSB who has consistently delivered exactly what he's promised. And then there's Martin Taylor who was formerly of Barclays. He brought a completely different style to the running of a traditional bank which was particularly refreshing. He could empathise with the biggest of the institutional shareholders, the smallest of our customers and the people who worked in the bank. He could speak to them all. But really the people I admire most, given that banks are often portrayed as big and bad, are the ones who work on the front line, providing a day-to-day service to the customer. That's what retail banking is really all about.
L P Finn
Chief Executive, Northern Rock plc
SIR BRIAN PITMAN has to top any banking list. He has preached the virtue of shareholder value and he has delivered it. Absolutely clear focus is a key executive skill and Sir Brian is well endowed in this respect.
With the new banks it is impossible not to think of Peter White of Alliance & Leicester. He's an ebullient character, but steely - another mandatory quality.
Looking at softer management qualities one has to congratulate Brian Davis at Nationwide for rescuing mutuality from a premature demise. He's convinced himself that New Mutuality is as significant as New Labour and has gathered many proselytes to his cause. But the value of mutual building societies is reducing at a steady pace, which must give their boards of directors pause for thought.
Marketing Director, Tesco Personal Finance
I ADMIRE Sir George Mathewson, of the Bank of Scotland, because he is one of those rare bankers who shares our commitment to customers and thus was quick to spot the potential of supermarket banking. Supermarkets have been able to invade the banks' territory so successfully because so many bankers treat customers as an afterthought. I am impressed by George's vision in developing non-banking activities. He has encouraged Direct Line to change the face of general insurance by offering convenience, value and high-quality service. He has shown similar vision in developing telephone banking and now in providing what I think is Britain's best Internet banking site.
General Manager, Allied Irish Bank (GB)
I WOULD like to nominate Peter Ellwood, Group Chief Executive at Lloyds TSB. His company's recent performance is evidence that he and his team have found a successful formula. Through an acquisition strategy and a "no nonsense, value for money" approach, they have recorded an excellent performance. Integrating new businesses, like C&G, is one thing. What is even more impressive is that Peter and his colleagues have managed to add value in doing so. Too often, the result of a merger or acquisition is a blurred, compromised approach. In the Lloyds TSB case, they have come up with an even stronger customer proposition. The new bank focuses on a small number of products, cutting down potential for customer confusion and red tape, placing a high value on customer service. The bank's strategy appears clear and simple. Ellwood has managed to simplify a mature organisation effectively.
Chief Executive, Abbey National
OBVIOUSLY, I am enormously impressed with my own team. But if I had to pick one person who stands out in retail banking, it would be Bill Doulton from Midland. He's something of an outsider in our industry really - he's a Canadian. He's fairly new and has very refreshing ideas. He is willing to challenge established views in banking. He has tried to inject our banking establishment with something of the interesting things that they are doing over in Canada. He is full of energy and enthusiasm and resilience. He is a tough chap but has humility.
Chief Executive, Allied Irish Bank
THERE ARE two banks which we find it difficult to win business from - the Bank of Scotland and Lloyds; for this reason, I have great respect and admiration for both. In the Bank of Scotland's case, Sir Bruce Patullo overcame the disadvantage of having little or no presence in England in the early 1980s by successfully developing alternative channels - electronic and partnerships - which have allowed it to reach large numbers of customers without the need for branches.
However, my vote for the most influential leader in our industry must go to Sir Brian Pitman who has transformed Lloyds bank from "one of the pack" in UK banking to a high-performing business that is admired internationally. He has been the UK's leading proponent of shareholder value even before it was popular or well understood, and his relentless pursuit of value, and the clarity and simplicity with which he communicates it sets him apart. He has shown great courage and self-belief in resisting the temptation to follow the herd in expanding internationally or into investment banking - both directions have proved very costly for his erstwhile larger competitors. He has equally demonstrated vision and consistency in pursuing his value- based strategy through astute acquisitions and through divestment of non- core businesses at home and abroad. The measure of his success in translating philosophy into reality is best illustrated by his outstanding record of doubling shareholder value every three years for the past 15 years.
Chief Executive, Adam and Co plc
I AM a great admirer of Sir Brian Pitman and the dynamic force he has shown as a banker along with Jeremy Morse, former Chairman of Barclays, and Sir George Mathewson, of the Bank of Scotland. In the 1970s and 1980s Sir Brian was probably one of the most powerful men in banking, and going back 20 years I remember meeting him at a dinner party. I found it intriguing that a man of his status was prepared to listen to someone of my somewhat lower status. Without a doubt he was the forerunner of the transformation of the banking industry. He was totally focused on shareholder value. Interestingly he was ruthless in getting rid of the over-50s from the business because they were too highly paid, in his opinion, and he was the first to recognise this. I find what he's done slightly heart-rending; he has removed the traditional professional banker and has replaced him or her with a highly trained sales force - but he has been enormously successful. He has done what he was paid to do.
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