‘The bank doesn’t look like it would have looked like 20 years ago. There are no real barriers – there are more soft areas; when customers come in, they’ll be met by a colleague with an iPad and a smile – it’s all about how we can help customers,’ said islands director Alasdair Gardner.
While the bank is seeing more uptake in its digital offerings, there is still a place for the branch network. ‘It needs to reflect the needs of the people using it.’
Initial feedback has been positive, and as well as customers enjoying it, staff are too.
Sustainability has been a key factor in the refurbishment with low emission lighting and heating systems. It’s a very important topic, said Mr Gardner, adding that a brand-new electric car will soon be available for colleagues to use when they go out on business or to schools.
During Covid, the branches remained open, with staff going above and beyond their usual duties to help vulnerable customers. Access to banking for the community is something that the bank takes seriously, said Mr Gardner.
He is also a trustee of the Lloyds Foundation, which has given more than £21m. to local charities over the last 36 years. While giving money is important, the foundation also offers the charities access to its colleagues for mentoring or non-executive positions. It is something that has been particularly needed in the last two years, he said.
As well as investing in the bricks and mortar buildings, the bank is also investing heavily in its digital proposition, but it is the support of all customers that is important, according to Mr Gardner. ‘Those that are not comfortable in a digital environment are important to us – we need to ensure that our USP is our customer care and satisfaction.’
The Lloyds Bank team regularly goes into schools and into businesses to help educate people around the financial sector. Part of this support includes raising awareness around financial fraud and how to keep money safe, but part of it is also to encourage people in schools to have a career in banking. Training is an important part of the bank’s role, particularly when it comes to recruiting staff.
On the back of the education programme in schools, the bank will launch an apprenticeship programme within the islands.
‘We will hopefully attract people in, give them meaningful jobs, jobs that motivate and develop them and give them a sense of purpose.
‘In the summer, we will launch an island-specific graduate programme, which is really aimed at people who have gone off-island to do their tertiary education and want to come back to the islands. We can give them a dedicated island graduate programme. But we will also offer it to people on the mainland who might not have thought about coming to the Channel Islands. They could do their two-year graduate traineeship here – to me, it’s about bringing fresh talent in, either through the schools or through the graduate programme. The apprenticeship programme is available for those aged 16 and above.
‘From my perspective, if I’ve got the culture of the business right, with a motivated team of colleagues that feel developed, then we will be successful. Key for us is ensuring we have the right culture and the right people – and then, hopefully, our customers will enjoy the journey with us.’