Tesco Bank has won this year’s Scottish Financial Services Award for successfully establishing itself as a current account provider.
Run by Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE), sponsored by EY and supported by The Scotsman, the award judges entrants on their contributions to Scotland’s standing as a financial centre, their long-term perspectives, the benefits for customers and their innovation and imagination.
Tesco is the first bank to win the award since it was established in 2010 and fought off stiff competition from four other nominees – Ashurst, Aberdeen Asset Management, the Library of Mistakes and Hymans Robertson.
Receiving the award at SFE’s annual dinner in Glasgow last night, Benny Higgins, chief executive of Tesco Bank, said: “This award reflects the exceptional progress that has been achieved through the hard work of all our colleagues at the bank.”
In an interview, he told The Scotsman that the current account launch was the culmination of five and a half years’ work, since Tesco made its banking arm independent of its early partner Royal Bank of Scotland.
In that time the Edinburgh-headquartered bank has grown its workforce from about 200 to more than 4,000, as it built up its product range and platforms that allowed it to deliver its products independently of RBS.
“Current accounts lubricate the way the world works, but there’s a lot of technology behind them,” Higgins said.
“There were some suggestions we had been delayed – we hadn’t, the account was delivered within months of our original targets.”
Presenting the award, Peter Wallace, head of financial services at EY Scotland, said: “The award is testament to the phenomenal growth and success enjoyed by Tesco Bank over the past few years and an indication of the impact new entrants are making on the retail banking market.
“Tesco Bank exemplifies the innovative spirit required to shake-up the status quo and its ambitious investment strategy should see it solidify its leading position among the sector’s bright new providers.”
SFE chairman Sir Ewan Brown used his speech to lament the uncertainty created by the referendum, and the energy expended on it.
He said: “Although there was an 85 per cent turnout, I was not persuaded that there was ever a groundswell of support for the notion that we should be directing all of our political energies over two and a bit years into a debate about independence.
“Which element of Civic Scotland has ever suggested that the top priority, ahead of all the things that concern us most about our society, should be independence?”