We are delighted to present our latest newsletter; a lot has happened since the last one in March!
It's fair to say that lockdown has enabled us to refresh our approach to ensure we have a robust post-pandemic plan for SWM.
This month's newsletter will bring you right up to date!
Adrian - Head of Membership
It has been a momentous time since our last newsletter for reasons good and bad. First the good – we completed our first full regulatory business plan and detailed financial model and submitted it to the banking regulators at the end of August.
For the business folks among you, and those familiar with start-ups, this is not like any other business plan I’ve written or read. At 93,000 words plus appendices, backed by detailed market research and financial modelling, it is a comprehensive document to demonstrate our commercial viability and set out our products, operations and governance in considerable detail. It is a major step on our journey towards becoming a bank.
Turning towards more challenging events, first let me express the hope that you and your loved ones have remained safe and in good health throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s not over yet, of course, and South West Mutual has been affected by the economic fall-out as have so many businesses.
We had just launched an extension to our fundraising round when the pandemic scaled up and the country locked down. We adapted to this disruption by reducing overheads and taking 2 months of furlough. This has necessarily slowed our progress, but we continue to work towards a formal licence application next year and full launch in 2022.
We have relaunched the fundraising with some expressions of interest already received. Now the plan is lodged with the regulators we will follow up over the next two weeks. Subject as ever to meeting certain legal qualifying criteria to become an investor, if you are interested in investment please get in touch.
Many people have told us that the severe impact on smaller businesses in the South West and the often inspiring community responses to Covid-19 both demonstrate the need and the appetite for a regional mutual bank. We agree. Moreover, we are increasingly finding support from Westminster for the concept. Yesterday I spoke alongside the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, at a special event held by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking. Senior regulators and politicians were present with considerable support expressed for our model of reinventing mutual banking for the modern age.
If the key stakeholders in the region, from local authorities to LEPs, business and civil society organisations, give us the support we need then the opportunity is there for the taking.
Even more important than regional institutions, a mutual bank is at root all about people. You can play your part in bringing our bank to fruition by following our social media accounts and getting involved in the conversations. Perhaps you can think of two friends or colleagues who would be interested in signing up to the newsletter? Thanks as ever for your support and if you have any observations, suggestions or stories about banking in the South West – let us have them!
We were pleased to be featured in this Grantham Institute (LSE) publication about how the banking industry can support a just transition.
'Over the next decade, banks and the financial sector as a whole will need to show how they are aligning their balance sheets with the UK’s net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target, how they are enabling households and companies to become resilient to climate change impacts, and how the process of often disruptive transition can be steered so that it is fair and inclusive. These goals combine to form the challenge of the just transition, a task that has become even more important with the shock of COVID-19.
This report presents research findings and recommendations for how to achieve these aims. It focuses primarily on the role of the UK’s banks and building societies, but it also contains recommendations for other lenders and government at all levels.'
You can read the full publication here. SWM is featured on page 36.
CIPF enable people to regain control of their lives and return to active life within society. Their approach is to learn about the issues affecting poverty and ill-health and to work at a local level to address them.
Their motto is a ‘Hand-up not a Hand-out’.
Tony was asked to write an article about SWM and its place in supporting fair and just money and banking system in Cornwall (and across the region of course!)
You can read the full report including Tony's article here.
Our Social Media expert Rebecca, has started some 'In conversation with' videos with questions coming from our followers.
They are insightful in the face of the COVID 19 crisis, talking about local economies, GDP, ethical finance and plenty more.
We look forward to bringing you more conversations relevant to our movement soon.
You'll be aware, no doubt, that there are others with us on the journey in creating regional banks!
We are delighted to tell you that Avon Mutual have also submitted the draft version of their business plan to the regulators. A consortium of councils in the area are carrying out due diligence with a view to capitalising the bank. We wish them well on the next stages of the regulatory and investment process.
We are also pleased to tell you that progress is being made in the North East and North West regions.
Tony and Adrian joined people from across Devon on a 3 day 'virtual summit' organised by Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, Essence Exeter and Local Spark Torbay.
The aim of the networks hosting this event was to come together across sectors to build a socially and ecologically resilient economy through conversation and collaboration.
If you missed the event and want to hear what Tony and Adrian had to say then you can head over to our YouTube channel and watch the clips from their sessions. You can also browse the Regenerate Devon YouTube channel if you'd like to watch more from other contributors.
"South West Mutual stands against racism, and alongside the Black Lives Matter movement. We commit to continuing to make this world a safe and fair place for everyone.
Banking, and financial services as a whole, is nowhere near as ethnically diverse as the customers it seeks to serve - and that is a problem. Access to banking services and products is also disproportionately denied to people from minority ethnic communities, and a study found that black victims of fraud are more than twice as likely to be denied a refund as white customers.
Through our mission to set up an ethical bank for people and businesses of the South West of England, South West Mutual will continue pressing for inclusion at every level of the financial industry. This starts in our own team, by continuing to learn about our inherent biases, seeking to further diversify our staff and founding members, and supporting organisations who address change in other ways, such as the Plymouth-based Diversity Business Incubator.
South West Mutual encourages non-Black folks to take action against systemic racism. You can do this by learning, signing petitions, donating money, and offering your time. Here are some resources to help you do that:
We encourage everyone, but especially Black folks at this time, to contact us at South West Mutual regarding anything and to share your concerns and your ideas. Our inbox at email@example.com is open for us to listen to you.
We know we don’t have all the answers, and we know we won’t always get it right. Our commitment is to strive to play our part in building a fairer and more just society. "
Year to date running total: 460 miles covered & 35,427 feet of elevation gain… I’ve now climbed the equivalent of 1 + 1/4 Mt. Everest’s without having left the South West!
So, the 40th running of the London Marathon has been cancelled due to Covid19 and my place has been switched to October 2021. Faced with the prospect of effectively wasting my training to date, I’ve decided to follow the organisers’ lead and run a virtual marathon on 4th October this year.
This means I will have 24 hours to run, walk or crawl my way to completing 26.2 miles, logging everything on an official “app” in order to receive a very special finishers medal and know that for the first time in my life, I will have completed a marathon distance.
I’m part of a running club (the East Cornwall Harriers) and for the past few weeks, I’ve been able to socially distance run with some of the club members on my Sunday long-runs. Longest was this weekend at 2.5 hours (14 miles) – the others are all seasoned runners, but thankfully for me, they have put the emphasis on the ‘social’ aspect of the proceedings. Each week I’m building up to get my body used to running for the likely 4.5 – 5 hours that it will take me to complete the course.
The parallels with the bank’s progress continue – we’re moving forward each week, either in finalising our regulatory business plan or some aspect of our strategy or proposition.
Similarly, for my charity work, I have been looking at how we can grow capacity in order to help more people as the area in which we operate is expected to be seriously impacted by the effects of a relatively short and poor tourist season – with up to 40% job losses in seaside areas predicted by the local authority. I’ve recruited two new debt coaches to support these people from this Autumn and their training will commence next month.
If you are able to sponsor my virtual marathon run (via this link), all monies raised will be used to fund this vital work.
Head over to Darren's Marathon Man page to read his previous updates.
As a result of the pandemic, we have changed our operations to be more cost effective and safer for our teams.
We say goodbye to our base at Broadwalk House and office at Dartington. They've been important places to us - as they provided the space for us to think and create our business plan.
All of the team are working virtually from home and have been since March.
Our new official address is South West Mutual Ltd, Devonport Guildhall, Ker Street, Plymouth PL1 4EL. Our telephone number remains unchanged: 01392 984004
We held our Annual General Meeting for the first time virtually on the 29th July 2020. It's important for our founder members to be part of our decision making as a cooperative organisation.
You can read the Annual Report and Financial Statements on our website.
As a result of overwhelming feedback from our members, we plan to hold more engagement events virtually in the coming months.
As we hope you have seen this is an important and exciting time for the progress of South West Mutual.
We'll be updating you as things develop with our banking license progress.
If you are interested in talking to us more in terms of supporting us, then please make contact via our contact form. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01392 984004.
South West Mutual Limited is Co-operative Society 4451 registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014
Devonport Guildhall, Ker Street, Plymouth, PL1 4EL Tel: 01392 984004
* Disclaimer: We intend to apply for a banking licence to the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority. We are not yet authorised as a bank so please do not take any information on this website as an invitation or inducement to apply to South West Mutual for any banking services or products.
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