Our End of Year Update
Seasons greetings to all our followers. I thought now would be a good time to update you on our progress over the year.
Avon Mutual was established in 2018 to create a revolutionary new form of regional cooperative bank for the West of England covering Bristol, BANES, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North Somerset. Two years into the process we've made huge progress to building our bank.
Most importantly we've recently moved into the second of three major phases, out of the 'in formation' phase and into the PRA/FCA licensing and build-out of the bank. The third of those phases will see us launching in 2021 and soon to be lending £0.5bn local money to the local economy at any one time.
Key to our success will be gaining a banking licence, and our licensing process with the PRA/FCA is well underway. The next step on that journey will be the submission of our full Regulatory Business Plan early in 2020. Other key parts of the journey include staffing, investment and building the movement, and this note will tell you where we are on these.
Growing our team
Our Bristol office is now buzzing and we are delighted to be able to announce six new team members who have recently joined me and the rest of our team of Karen, Dena, Graham and Richard.
Firstly, Jeremy Gibson has just joined us as part-time CFO. Jeremy is a chartered accountant trained with E&Y, and was most recently CFO of Sanlam UK. He has experience in a wide range of financial services institutions across geographies including senior roles at Citigroup and Macquarie Bank and is also a non-executive director of Nucleus Financial Group. We are excited about the financial and strategic acumen Jeremy will bring.
Our second new team member is Dave Mathews who joins us as Customer and Proposition Director. Dave has extensive experience in retail banking and financial services, particularly focusing on brand, customer value, e-commerce, direct marketing, business transformation and start ups. He has worked with brands such as Santander and Moneysupermarket.com, and in energy with Engie, EON and on fuel poverty with Bristol Energy.
Thirdly, Zoe Bayetto has joined as EA and Project Management Officer. Zoe brings invaluable experience in projects and programmes management with experience in financial services, retail banking, education, and publishing. She has worked with Nationwide, Lloyds, TSB, Zurich Financial.
We are also lucky to have three brilliant Bristol University interns who have joined the team for one year each working with us two days a week. Evy Adams is studying a masters in marketing strategy and business development, Tom Wilson and Emily Lloyd are third year students in economics and finance and Emily has also completed a marketing internship at HSBC.
As part of the wider team we are working closely with Nick Hemley on our IT and and Fionn Travers-Smith on market research and brand as well as a number of other freelance contractors working on issues including project management, financial modelling and regulatory mapping.
We are also recruiting for a Chair of Audit to join our board. If you know anyone this role might interest please do tell them to contact us for a conversation.
Ongoing investment raising success
In other news we have now successfully raised £750,000 of our target £1m first round funding from 40 local individual investors, including two foundations and Bristol City, Stroud and Wiltshire Councils. Many of our investors have also invested twice now which just goes to show how loyal they are to our mission. We also have conversations ongoing with a number of other potential investors and hope to close the first £1m round very soon.
We have strong interest from investors for our £1m second round, and are already well progressed with local institutional investors who are currently undertaking due diligence for more than half of our required third round investment of £18m.
Stakeholder and community engagement
I have spoken at numerous recent events including at a climate change event in Stroud with Caroline Lucas MP and Molly Scott Cato MEP, a Bath Cooperative Alliance event, a Bristol University Brigstow Institute event, a Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute event and chaired the closing panel of the recent Social Enterprise and Innovation Programme’s New Western Frontier summit.
We continue to build partnerships and collaboration with civil society, business and local government groups and meeting communities across the region to hear what they want from our bank. We are currently planning a crowdsourcing session with local stakeholders to define our ethical policy which will sit at the heart of what we do.
Partnership with Bristol University
Building on the success of our Bristol University internship programme, we're actively partnering with Universities across the region and in particular with Bristol University where we have ongoing collaboration with the Brigstow Institute and the Inclusive Economy Initiative.
Our base at the Setsquared innovation centre at Engine Shed in Bristol (where we are members of the incubator partnership between the region’s Universities) is working well for us and allows easy access by train, bus, bike or foot. We’re also proud that Setsquared has recently been ranked the global number one university business incubator for the third consecutive time.
A reminder of our vision and what makes us different
For those of you new to Avon Mutual we’ve been described as ‘a new fangled bank with old fashioned values’ ie a bank based on values and customer-centricity but with the latest technology. Our vision is of a customer owned regional bank for all - including more vulnerable people typically excluded by traditional banks - offering simple, affordable, and relevant financial services to businesses and individuals in the West of England. We will promote sustainable and inclusive regional development and bring about a revival of personal customer service, relationship banking and trust.
We are different from the rest of the banking world because we really do put personal customer service and closeness to customers first and plan to open 30 branch services across the region at a time other banks are closing them.
We are committed to financial inclusion and hope to do away with the ‘poverty premium’ by giving bank accounts to everyone. We have a strong focus on social and environmental impact, will be a living wage employer with a radical 15:1 top to bottom maximum pay ratio.
And we aim to serve at least 70,000 personal and 18,000 SME customers, using local money to build regional resilience and economic development and loan £0.5bn to the local economy at any one time. Because we are a mutual society, most of our profits are retained to benefit our customers and a proportion distributed to our members as dividends.
We are part of a wider movement of 18 sister banks in formation, with the next two to launch being SW Mutual and Greater London Mutual, soon to be followed we hope by a bank in Wales, the NW, NE, Manchester and others. It is our dream that all the UK’s citizens and small businesses in each region will soon have access to one of our banks.
We hope you share our vision.
What Can You Do?
The response to Avon Mutual around the region has been very encouraging, and you can read more about us at www.avonmutual.org.
Please help spread the word. If you’d like to play a part in establishing Avon Mutual, please consider forwarding this update to someone you think might share your interest in this initiative; if they live or work in our region, suggest they sign up on the website. Going forward we will be sending updates every couple of months or so, or when something particularly exciting happens!
Maybe you live in our region and would like to help us in some other way or to become an early investor in the bank. If so I’d love to hear from you and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you all a very merry xmas and a prosperous new year.
Founder Director Avon Mutual