Alba Bank in big hires as it prepares to launch

Robert Sharpe and Andy Lewis

Alba Bank, the new Scottish bank dedicated to small and medium sized business (SME) lending, said it has appointed banking industry veterans Robert Sharpe and Andrew Lewis to the key roles of chair of the board and chief risk officer as it gears up for launch.

Founded by Scottish entrepreneur Jim McColl in 2018 with its headquarters in Glasgow, Alba Bank was established to provide commercial finance to UK SMEs, which remain underserved by the mainstream banks.

Alba was earlier this year granted its banking licence by the UK Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and the FCA.

Sharpe’s appointment as chair is subject to regulatory approval.

Sharpe brings with him over 45 years’ experience in retail banking. He is currently chair at Metro Bank plc, Hampshire Trust Bank plc and Pollen Street plc.

Chief risk officer Lewis has over 25 years’ experience in financial services. He joins from Aldermore Bank plc, where he served three years as chief risk officer.

Prior to that he was an expert partner at Bain & Co in its Financial Services & Digital practice and, before that, worked over 20 years in NatWest Group, where he held a number of senior business and risk roles, most recently MD, Commercial & Private Banking.

He was also co-founder of NatWest’s Esme Loans Ltd.

Alba Bank CEO Rod Ashley said: “With the addition of Robert and Andy to our leadership team, Alba has reached another crucial milestone in our journey towards launch.

“We’ve now got a team with the right experience and values to deliver a new challenger bank aimed at supporting SMEs to achieve their true potential.

“Robert and Andy bring considerable experience of running successful retail banks, at big institutions and smaller challenger banks.

“Their insight into the challenges and opportunities of creating a bank committed to serving SMEs will be invaluable as we accelerate plans for launch.”

Sharpe said: “I’m looking forward to using my experience of building successful challenger banks to helping Alba achieve its vision and strategy.

“Alba is now well-set for the next stage of its journey, with a strong board, an experienced executive team and supportive shareholders.

“The bank is well capitalised and fully focused on building a modern, customer-centric, efficient organisation which can successfully take on the competition. I am very excited to be part of this new venture.”

Lewis said: “I’ve spent a lot of my career working with the SME sector which has been consistently failed by the big banks.

“There are many reasons for that failure, but we see a real opportunity for Alba to champion this key part of the UK economy as a specialist lender. I’m delighted to be part of it.

“As CRO I’ll be focussed on helping mobilise a safe, scalable and sustainable bank, ensuring that we have the full confidence and backing of our key stakeholders, and offering compelling SME lending and online savings propositions to our customers.”