Does the UK need new local banks?

Held on Wednesday, February 28, 2018


  • Tony Greenham (RSA)

  • Samuel Ghann (Greater London Mutual)

  • Jamie Audsley (ShareAction)

  • Christine Allison (CSFI)



The problems of the traditional bank branch are well understood. There are fewer than half the number thirty years ago, despite the political pressure on High St banks to keep them open. Many customers are moving to other channels, and digital-only banking is a reality for younger and more affluent groups. But shrinking branch networks and the increasing distance between local banks and their customers are only part of the problem: a YouGov poll last year found that barely a third of British consumers trust banks to work in their customers' best interests.

Tony Greenham is director of economy at the RSA, a senior fellow at the Finance Innovation Lab, and co-author of Where does money come from? He is a long-standing champion of local economies, mutuality and stakeholder banking, and (along with others) is championing a new wave of community banks – banks owned by their customers, but (unlike building societies) free to invest in local businesses.

This is beginning in London, where he is the Deputy Chairman of the Greater London Mutual, but it also involves other regional initiatives in Bristol and south west England. As I understand it, the idea is to set up several independently licensed regional banks, each firmly rooted in the communities they serve, linked by a common set of IT, operational and risk management systems (where economies of scale may indeed be important).

This strikes me as an initiative well worth supporting, and I am delighted that Tony has agreed to discuss what he believes mutuals have to offer as a solution to the problems facing High St banks. I am also pleased that he will be joined by:

  • Samuel Ghann, who is the CEO (and co-founder) of the Greater London Mutual. He is a former financial institutions expert at S&P.
  • Jamie Audsley, head of education and organising at ShareAction, and a local (Labour) councillor for Croydon.

If you (or a colleague) would like to join the discussion, please call the CSFI on 020 7621 1056 or email Wine, refreshments and sandwiches will be available as usual. Sincerely yours,

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton