Alba, Jim McColl’s bank for SMEs, gets licence

Alba, the new Scottish bank dedicated to small and medium sized business lending, said it has been granted a banking licence by the UK Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Glasgow-based Alba said it has been “Authorised with Restrictions” (AWR), allowing it “to move into mobilisation.”

Alba said it was founded five years ago by Clyde Blowers’ chairman and CEO Jim McColl, “who felt strongly about the compelling need to create a new bank for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which combined modern banking technology capabilities with a focus on meeting demand from business leaders for greater face to face interaction and engagement with their banks.”

Alba said a team at Clyde Blowers “have been actively working alongside the Alba team to secure the banking license.”

It said Clyde Blowers “has also led the capital raising for Alba to date, supported by several like-minded business entrepreneurs.”

It said the bank has “now raised sufficient capital to support the mobilisation phase and beyond.”

Alba said it will initially operate from two office hubs in Glasgow and London with longer term ambitions to establish commercial offices in regions across the UK.

Alba CEO Rod Ashley said: “This is unquestionably a landmark moment in our journey so far.

“I am incredibly proud of the team who have steadfastly believed in our mission of launching a new SME focused bank and have worked tirelessly to build a comprehensive business plan, which has allowed us to receive our licence from the regulators.

“SMEs have long been regarded as the lifeblood of our economy but haven’t always received access to appropriate levels or forms of finance.

“Alba is an opportunity to design a bank specifically with these businesses in mind, helping them to realise their true potential and fulfil their vital role in enhancing both employment and economic growth.

“Alba’s proposed high tech, high touch business model, marrying the latest innovative digital technology with skilled relationship managers and personal judgement, will differentiate us within the UK SME lending market.”

Alba chairman Graeme Jones said: “Alba’s establishment is not only important to the Scottish banking and financial services community, but also to the Scottish economy where the majority of our working population are employed in SME businesses.

“The bank has a dynamic and ambitious agenda which, through time, will see it operating across the UK regions from its initial bases in Glasgow and London.

“Whilst we will be a high-tech SME bank utilising the best financial technology available to serve our customers, we also place equal value on our customer relationships. We need their voice at the very heart of the bank to ensure we stay relevant, understand their changing needs and to provide a more personalised and bespoke service.”