Comment: Banking should use technology to enhance classic values

Stephen Spielberg put it pretty well: “Technology can be our best friend. But it can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives.” And in the increasingly data-driven world of banking, that advice is worth remembering. After all, retaining the balance between technology and human relationships is a challenge with which mainstream banks often struggle.

The core principles of our digital service are customer-driven, says Hartop. Picture: Stewart Attwood

If technology can create greater freedom and control for clients, then it would appear that everyone is a winner, although we know this is not always the case. At the heart of our overall proposition at Hampden & Co is a focus on the strong relationships we build with our clients. So, when we recently enhanced our digital offering with the launch of an app, we were keen to ensure that the upgrade was wholly driven by improving service levels and choice.

Client satisfaction is crucial to a private bank. While we are still relatively new on the private banking scene - we launched in June 2015 - our team has decades of experience and, collectively, we saw a real opportunity to introduce a traditional and personal banking service that stands up to and exceeds the competition in delivering this to our customers.

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In December, we saw off some of our most vaunted competitors to win Private Bank of the Year at a major industry awards ceremony in London and this recognition gives us confidence that we are on the right track. We are supporting our organic growth by adding expertise from talented bankers who in the main have been drawn to Hampden & Co because of the fresh approach we are taking to private banking. Our digital services play a key role in this.

The three principles that underpin our digital offering are flexibility, simplicity and availability. For example, greater flexibility in managing more basic transactions remotely frees clients up to focus on bigger financial issues when they sit down with one of our private bankers. Our mobile banking app allows clients to message their banker directly and securely, and enables a number of banking transactions to be executed. We put a lot of thought into the app’s features and intend to make continual improvements based on client feedback over time.

Beyond the enhancements to our digital service, our core proposition of providing a personal and professional banking service continues to be well received, in particular our ability to look at lending decisions on a case by case basis. Last week, we were invited to support an event hosted by law firm Gillespie Macandrew exploring property investment for families. It was unsurprising to hear that we are not alone in continuing to see strong interest from parents looking to help their children onto the property ladder. Another theme raised during the event was around how bridging finance can support people who are looking to downsize.

In a time of relative uncertainty, it was encouraging to hear from clients that interest in property investment remains robust. With all the changes that have impacted the property market in recent years, Hampden & Co is currently researching the experiences that people are having when financing property purchases. Our suspicion is that many clients are frustrated when attempting to get a mortgage, as the impersonal service of most lenders does not lead to the most straightforward or satisfying experience.

As 2019 progresses, there are many opportunities for us to continue growing the business although there will also undoubtedly be challenges ahead given the current political instability. One of these opportunities for us is the £275 million RBS Incentivised Switching Fund, which launched last week, and we are already seeing enquiries as a result.

Overall, we are set for further growth in 2019 as our Edinburgh and London offices continue to attract clients who want a bank based around personal relationships, but supported with modern technology.

- Graeme Hartop, CEO, Hampden & Co