Business comment: In at the deep end as lockdown shakes up banking sector

I joined Hampden & Co in January as a banking director and little did I know, like all of us, how our business and home lives were going to change so dramatically only a matter of weeks later.

Clare Ansell is the banking director at Edinburgh-headquartered Hampden & Co. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Clare Ansell is the banking director at Edinburgh-headquartered Hampden & Co. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Since the pandemic broke and lockdown ensued, there have been challenges, both in terms of adapting to a new work dynamic and, as a parent, in ensuring that my nine-year-old son is coping with such big changes to his own life.

At Hampden & Co, we pivoted to working from home and kept operations running as though we were in the office with service to our clients remaining at the centre of everything that we do.

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In terms of the banking team itself, in a funny way I have got to know my new colleagues better than I would have expected while meeting through video calls. By “Zoom-ing” into colleagues’ homes, we do talk more about our domestic lives than we would ordinarily.

For me, my husband and son, living in Fife has been a blessing these last few months, with easy access to green spaces and the beautiful coastline the country is famed for. And, of course, it’s been great for our puppy too!

We also have extended family in the locality and that allowed us to meet in a socially distanced fashion which has been a godsend; silver linings around what have otherwise been stormy times.

I’m not going to pretend home schooling has always been easy, and while it’s probably advantageous for my son’s maths education that his mother is a banker, his homework has been quite different to my usual day helping clients to calculate their borrowing requirements so we can help them achieve their financial goals.

For Hampden & Co, relationship banking is integral to everything we do and it gives us a significant and growing differentiator with the high street banks. While we all want to get back to face-to-face meetings with colleagues, clients and intermediaries when it is deemed safe to do so, one thing we have realised is that productivity levels can be retained, sometimes even exceeded, through the new work dynamic.

As many industry commentators have stated, it is now largely accepted that a hybrid model combining the physical workplace and virtual meetings could replace the status quo going forward.

With over five years of trading to its name, Hampden & Co is now considered an established player in UK private banking. At the same time, we are an agile team with a modern and dynamic approach to how we do business.

Importantly, market feedback indicates that this is really resonating with our client base and there is a definite feeling that we’ve really come into our own since lockdown.

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We have heard lots of stories about individuals who have suffered because of the difficulties they have had dealing with the big banks – a stress people could do without when life has already taken a more stressful turn.

Not surprisingly, we have seen an inflow of clients who had been considering moving banks and were then hastened to do so because of subpar customer service.

Hampden & Co is now one of the only banks to boast a headquarters in Scotland and we have a substantial and growing presence in London too. Our Scottish credentials have proved to be of merit recently with two of my own new clients.

One, in the process of acquiring an estate in the north of Scotland, switched over to us, while another, an expat in Hong Kong planning to return to the UK, also made the switch.

These stories and many others give me and the team great confidence that we’re on the right tracks when it comes to our strategy and outlook at Hampden & Co.

- Clare Ansell is the banking director at Edinburgh-headquartered Hampden & Co

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