TSB must stay focused on delivering promises
Paul Pester seemed pretty pleased with himself when TSB was floated last month. After shares were 10 times oversubscribed, the bank's boss said: "It shows there is real appetite for a different kind of bank – a high street bank, not a Wall Street bank – which is focused on customer service.
"We are now focused on delivering on our strategy of bringing more competition to high street banking across Britain."
We certainly do need more competition. But will TSB – which has 4.5 million customers – deliver it? I've been critical of the bank's claims in the past but maybe it's time to give it a chance to prove itself now that it has finally split from Lloyds Banking Group.
What has the bank promised to do that is different? In its prospectus it said: "We were created to bring more competition to the UK banking market – to be a real challenger to the big banks and to deliver better banking for all British consumers."
That's all good. We all desire better banking. TSB went on to say it "purely serves local customers and local businesses, in order to fuel local economies, and so help create thriving local communities all across Britain and nowhere else."
That sounds a little parochial, doesn't it? It does to me. And does it actually promise much-needed help for local communities? Not really.
Smaller banks, such as the ethical Triodos, publish details of where all your money is used and it operates on strict principles.
What does TSB say? "We use every penny TSB customers deposit with us to fund mortgages and loans for other TSB customers. And nothing else."
That sounds a bit of an empty promise, too.
I would love to see it really take on the other high street banks.
And to be a success it needs to focus on customer service and deliver on their promises.