What leaders think
Steve Deutsch, CEO, GBB
GBB is busy creating the UK’s first property technology platform built on the foundations of a profitable bank. Initial entry will focus on providing economic growth for regional SME developers by providing bespoke finance underpinned by long-term relationships, at the same time providing a safe and reliable home for savers in the easiest way possible. Delivered by a first-class team, a can-do culture we’re building and an exhilarating business as we progress towards our banking licence. GBB is our working name during the application process, after which we’ll emerge with a new, and thoroughly British, brand. For further information, drop us a note on firstname.lastname@example.org
What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?
Mobilising to build the bank. We have very recently secured our cornerstone investor, this now focuses our efforts on what we call mobilisation. Essentially, the planning, resourcing and critical path priorities. We have been doing this over the past few months, but now funding is in place, it brings it all to life.
Which ongoing business challenge is occupying your thoughts this week/month?
Getting our banking licence. We are on a journey to become a specialist bank focused on property development finance. Securing a banking licence is a long process a critical part of which is ensuring the regulators are on-side.
In addition to securing the funding, the next step is to secure the provisional license called ‘authorisation with restrictions’. Once we secure the licence we can officially call ourselves GB Bank.
In retrospect what would you have done differently in lockdown and therefore, how may this shape your thinking for any future lockdown (local or national)?
We adapted really well to lockdown. Being a start-up, we had good quality technology and people were already equipped to work from home with their laptops. The move from office to home in mid-March was very smooth and almost all our staff are still working from home. We re-opened the office last month for those that wish to come into the office.
In the future, we will need to configure ourselves differently, and accept that home working is going to be more prevalent. We have found that all of us have been very productive working from home. However, we are very aware of the issues surrounding social isolation.
Given the reliance on technology during lockdown, do you now envisage an acceleration in digital/ workforce transformation in the short-medium term?
Yes, no question. We have to pro-actively embrace it. We need to ensure everybody has the appropriate equipment. It will allow us to recruit permanent or temporary staff who we may not have considered in the past.
For example, we’ve recently recruited people working out of Edinburgh supporting us on a contract basis, in the past that probably wouldn’t have worked so easily. Gone are the days of working 5 days per week in the office for most people. Clearly, it varies by sector, but in Financial Services we have to embrace it.
What are the new working norms starting to look like for your organisation?
We are in build mode and all working from home. That is OK, but I would like people to come into the office more often for project planning and workshops, for instance where it’s useful to have face to face inter-action. It’s an evolving process for us.
It might sound a bit odd, but we have just leased new offices due to our current space being too stretched. When we fit this new office out it will allow us a better combination of home and office working.
There was a dramatic reduction in our carbon footprint during lockdown, what is your business planning to do to help continue this going forward?
It’s a real tricky one. We will have less people coming into head office on a routine daily basis so this will undoubtably help on our carbon footprint.
Relationship management and boots on the ground i.e. salespeople going to meet their clients in person is hugely important to best establish a relationship with a borrower face to face. The other side is retail savings raised digitally.
Head office will see a better carbon footprint, but our regional sales teams will still have to travel to customers. Perhaps we will have to encourage them to use electric cars as the infrastructure improves.
What changes personally will you keep from the lockdown period going forward?
I know it’s a cliché, but I spend more time with the family. I have 2 older sons and it’s been delightful having them both at home. Having family meals together is great!
Generally spending more time at home is great, pre-Covid I travelled a lot. The ability to flex my day (within reason) i.e. if I carve it out, I can visit the gym in the middle of the day. I start my day early and finish late.
Who or what has inspired you this week? (They don’t need to be famous)
My mother actually. She is not at all well, but she is a stoic. The way she puts up with it and does not complain is quite inspirational.
Did you manage a holiday this summer and if so where / how did you spend it?
Not yet. However, I’m taking next week off to visit the Lake District. 1 week of walking to blow the cobwebs away will be fantastic!
Any words of wisdom?
Change is the only constant. Be prepared for it! I have firmly believed this for a long time.