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Alba becomes Scotland’s first ever bank for SMEs

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Scotland’s first bank solely dedicated to small and medium sized business lending has been granted a banking licence by the UK Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and the FCA. 

Founded in 2018 with its headquarters in Glasgow, Alba was Authorised with Restrictions* (AWR) on 9thMarch 2023, allowing it to move into mobilisation. 

Alba has worked closely with both the PRA and the FCA over the past five years to develop its proposition, processes and systems to secure the banking licence. 

Alba was founded 5 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.

The bank is led by an experienced team who have an intimate knowledge of the banking sector and share a passion to transform SME customer banking, combining a relationship-driven banking model with state-of-the-art technology platforms. 

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

Rod Ashley, CEO of Alba, commented: “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.”

Graeme Jones, chairman of Alba, commented: 

“I am absolutely delighted that Alba has been granted its licence (with restrictions) and now enters into full mobilisation. 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.”

The team at Clyde Blowers have been actively working alongside the Alba team to secure the banking license. Clyde Blowers has also led the capital raising for Alba to date, supported by several like-minded business entrepreneurs. The bank has now raised sufficient capital to support the mobilisation phase and beyond. 

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