When financial services companies move through a series of growth phases, opportunities and challenges are usually faced in something close to equal measure.
Getting new products to market entails regulatory, governance and hiring challenges for a fast-growing financial business. And there can be a temptation to try to keep a multitude of plates spinning when it comes to strategic opportunities. While some of these strategic opportunities can be transformational for the business, it’s vital to explore and develop these alongside an all-important focus on a business’s clients.
Having helped a number of financial institutions, and operating units within them, achieve material growth – at organisations including Kames Capital, RBS and Coutts – what I have learned along the way is that there is a delicate balance to strike between actively seeking ways to grow a company’s market share in existing or new markets, and maintaining an unwavering focus on what attracted clients to you in the first place.
As a financial services company really begins to scale – at Hampden & Co our headcount has now grown to more than 100 across our Edinburgh headquarters and expanding London base – cross-team dependency becomes increasingly important and quality assurance must be uppermost in everyone’s minds. And, as the oft-quoted saying goes, culture is king.
Since joining Hampden & Co, I’ve been struck by the palpable sense of pride, at all levels of the firm, in what has been built and achieved since the bank opened in 2015. To me, that’s a huge competitive advantage because it means that the prevailing culture is one of a genuine shared desire to see further success. Many more mature businesses than Hampden & Co don’t have this kind of culture and while it can be built, it can take a long time.
My remit at Hampden is to further accelerate growth, while ensuring a healthy business balance from our clients and referrals from mortgage intermediaries and other professional advisers. By focusing purely on banking services – Hampden & Co does not offer broader wealth management – we can concentrate on providing an excellent banking service and help our clients find other, independent specialist firms for their wider wealth management needs if required: that is one of our key differentiators compared with most other UK private banks.
We will not rest on our laurels
In September, we executed one of the strategic opportunities that came onto our radar when we were selected by Smith & Williamson to take on its £35 million loan book, following the decision by the investment management specialist to divest its banking licence.
At the time, Smith & Williamson said: “When we examined the market, we recognised the same culture and sense of commitment at Hampden & Co and its pure focus on banking made the decision a relatively straightforward one.” To have that kind of sentiment expressed underscores both the strategic direction of Hampden & Co and how highly rated we are by our peers.
The Smith & Williamson deal also has a positive impact on our financials. In August, Hampden & Co reported year-on-year income growth of 48 per cent at the half-year stage, deposits rose 39 per cent and lending increased by 44 per cent. Our next set of numbers will reflect the boost from Smith & Williamson.
Looking ahead to 2020, we will not be resting on our laurels. Irrespective of political machinations, the UK will remain an attractive place to bank and invest, and we will continue to focus on providing exceptional banking service to our clients and working with strategic partners to achieve continued growth.
As we look ahead to the holiday season, we offer good cheer to our clients, our staff and our peers and the very best of wishes for the New Year.
- Andrew Bell, chief commercial officer, Hampden & Co