We hope that you have enjoyed all that the South West has brought us this summer. It's time to update you again - and it's been a busy period of time for South West Mutual.
We've visited the regulators in London, set up our new 'HQ' and have partnered with some talented people. Tony gives you an overview of the key milestones in our progress to creating a bank for the region - it's an exciting step on our journey.
You can follow our journey via our website or any of our social media channels.
Adrian - Head of Membership & Engagement
Our licence application progress
We’ve had some important milestones since we last updated you - one of those was our first meeting with the banking regulators, which took place in August.
To get a licence we need to satisfy two different regulators that we have a viable business plan, that we are financially sound, and that we have the rights skills and experience to run a bank.
The first, the Prudential Regulation Authority at the Bank of England tries to ensure that banks are financially sound and the second, the Financial Conduct Authority, enforces high standards of customer care.
We felt the meeting went well and we are making good progress towards submitting our full and formal license application in Spring 2020.
Banking on a Just Transition
I have been invited onto the steering group of a national project called ‘Banking on a Just Transition’ led by LSE/Grantham Institute with other major academic, banking and public institutions. As the only challenger bank and regional bank represented in the project, and the only member of the advisory group from outside a major city, I have been fighting hard to ensure that the challenges of rural areas, market and coastal towns and smaller cities are given sufficient attention – so often sadly overlooked from the vantage points of Westminster and the City of London.
A house in the country
Therefore, it feels appropriate that we are taking a temporary second office on the Dartington Estate, a place of historically significant experiments in rural regeneration as well as cultural and social innovation. The team spent a day a couple of weeks ago cleaning, painting and making it feel like home – which it does. We still have our official base at Broadwalk House in Exeter, but now we also have our own dedicated space for the team to collaborate in.
Friends in high places
I was honoured to present South West Mutual at Lambeth Palace to the Archbishop’s advisors on financial inclusion and social justice. We found much in common with the Church’s mission and hope to continue conversations about potential partnerships and investment.
Darren is already demonstrating this in practice with his other job as manager of Christians Against Poverty in Liskeard, doing great work on debt counselling and promoting financial wellbeing.
Of course, South West Mutual is for those of any faith and none, and if you can introduce us to any other faith groups or religious and spiritual organisations who might be interested in hearing about us then please get in touch.
I look forward to updating you with our progress later in the year.
On behalf of the team, thanks for your ongoing support!
We are currently working on how we tell a consistent and compelling story about why we were formed, our purpose and values. We also need to think about how we visually present a modern mutual bank to our future members*.
We have enlisted some very creative professionals to help us along the way - and of course all of those people live and work in the region!
So here we introduce you to Tom, Rebecca & Llew at GROW Marketing.
*subject to SWM be granted a license by the regulators.
Tom Browning is a brand strategist, designer and writer, specialising in storytelling for brands, businesses and organisations. With over twelve years’ experience in some of London’s top agencies, working for clients such as British Airways, U+I and The FIA, Tom has recently returned home to Devon to start his own dedicated branding agency, focused on helping to grow businesses local to the South West.
Tom said about working with us - ' For me, South West Mutual represents a whole new offer for banking – sustainable, people-focussed, human-scale, local – that will soon revolutionise the industry. '
Rebecca Broad helps start-ups and ethical businesses communicate by creating written and social media content. She moved to Exeter in 2013 to study an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and, after graduation, became full-time freelance, helping her to balance health needs and interests in the environment and sustainability. Rebecca is a Trustee for Devon Wildlife Trust and was the youngest of Exeter's 100 Influential Women.
We are delighted that GROW Marketing in Exeter are going to be
working with us on our strategic marketing plan for the coming 12 months.
We spoke to a number of agencies in the region, but Llew and the team at GROW really impressed us with their local focus and their belief in what we are trying to achieve.
Llew Nicholls, CCO at GROW said ' Our whole ethos as a business revolves around local people, SWM epitomises that incredibly and their values align with ours perfectly. We couldn't be more excited to be joining them on this journey! '
GROW are also the proud new owners of a coffee house and working space in South St Exeter - local produce and fantastic coffee.
Famously long enough to travel round the world by steam power. It’s not a huge amount of time in the grand scheme of things, but it is certainly long enough that you notice it passing. When something you are looking forward to is 80 days away, that feels like aeons. You probably can’t remember what you were doing 80 days ago, it will have faded into the dusty corners of your memory, along with many unremarkable lunches, work meetings and embarrassing moments on nights out when you had one too many. If you were told you had to spend 80 days doing something you hated, you would rightly feel dismayed, because that would seem to you like forever.
But, the 80 days I have spent at South West Mutual, have absolutely flown by - because I have really enjoyed them.
The team was (and still is) warm, welcoming and witty making sure to challenge me, but not to the point that I felt overwhelmed. While I have had other jobs before this, this was my first time in a professional working environment and Adrian, Annabel, Darren, John and Tony brilliantly performed the delicate balancing act of giving me enough responsibility and autonomy for my contributions to feel worthwhile and for them to be my own contributions, but not so much that I was in over my head. They were very patient in explaining things, like the bazillion different banking acronyms (PRA, FCA, KYC, LTV etc.) and very quick to encourage me that I would be able to pull off a research project that would eventually inform the RBP (don’t we just love an acronym here at SWM).
I will miss South West Mutual, whether it’s John’s tales of the wild west banking of “the old days”, Adrian’s motivational musings, debates with Tony about economics, chatting with Annabel about London and her student days or Darren and I talking about statistics! I have definitely left this internship more skilled and with valuable experience going forward. It has also given me a litmus test for how a workplace should feel. Also, they paid me, which for an internship in the UK is often more than you can expect!
If SWM are offering internships in the future I would advise you to put yourself or friends or family forward, it is a great place to work, I feel I have achieved something and had a lot of fun while doing it.
We are delighted that David Thomas has been voted in as the chair of our board on the 6th August 2019.
He is a well respected and experienced individual who we are delighted to have as part of the SWM team.
David who qualified as a lawyer in 1969 in England and 1991 in Ireland, later took up the position of Banking Ombudsman in 1997. In 2005 he became Corporate Director and Principal Ombudsman responsible for corporate policy, legislation/rules under which the Financial Ombudsman operates, it’s relationship with the Government, European Commission, the financial regulators, Office of Fair Trading and the Ministry of Justice. He was also the interim Chief Ombudsman from November 2009 to March 2010 whilst a new incumbent was appointed.
David said of his appointment ' I am delighted to join the talented team that is working to create a new bank with exceptional features. It will restore accessible banking in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. It will be fair, efficient and trustworthy - qualities guaranteed by the fact that its customers will be members with a say in how it is run.’
David Thomas Chair of the board South West Mutual
We asked Daisy who is one of our founder members to describe why she wanted to be one of our founder members.
If you are keen to join as a founder member - then please contact us.
I know very little about banking and when I was invited to learn more, I was intrigued at what I might discover being a founder member.
I am a Bournemouth based independent community organiser. I spend my time creating maps, hosting spaces for people to share ideas, share resources and discuss things that matter to them.
My work founding IDEAS Bournemouth - a networking event where the purpose is to share ideas - and Bournemouth SOUP - a live crowdfunding dinner - has introduced me to people in my community who have incredible ideas and can-do attitudes.
I am seeing people around me get up and take on great challenges from waste-free-living and rewilding to tackling loneliness and addiction.
All these people I meet are active citizens in their community.
So why are institutions treating them like they are passive consumers?
I want to live in a world where the institutions I interact with treat me and my community like the citizens that we are. Citizens with agency and a need to organise, create, share, learn and vote. Citizens who care deeply about the places where we live.
When I looked into South West Mutual I was pleased to discover that it is a bunch of citizens with a desire to change things. They are as passionate about this corner of the country we call home, and they want to support and encourage the creative ideas of my neighbours near and far.
I don't want to be a passive consumer any more, so I said yes to being a founding member and yes to my vote. I am excited to join this bunch of citizens and maybe, down the line, I'll pick up a thing or two about banking.
We have a busy time ahead of us over the autumn months, with the operational teams key focus of writing our regulated business plan to provide banking in the region.
Alongside that we'll be building our founder membership group, launching our new brand and identity and commencing the next round of fundraising. If you are attending the South West Business Expo on the 20th November, come along and meet us - the team will be there on stand number 56, meeting new people and sharing the new visuals with the 3,000+ people attending.
You need to book tickets to attend ( it's free!) which you can do on the form below or via our the social media links.
We are also planning a series of events in the early part of next year, to build awareness of what we are trying to achieve across the four counties - so look out for further information.
Thanks as always for your ongoing support - the excitement and focus is building every day and it's your words of support and sharing our story with others, that motivates us to build something special for the people of our region.
We look forward to updating you in our December newsletter.
The South West Mutual Team
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South West Mutual Limited is Co-operative Society 4451 registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014
Registered office: Broadwalk House, Southernhay West, Exeter, Devon EX1 1TS 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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