Out of the wasteland Aldermore grows...

Out of the wasteland Aldermore grows...


The journey of a new bank with Rob Lankey, Head of Lending

By Rebecca Hobson

For those at Aldermore it’s not been a rocky road to success, but it’s certainly been an eventful one. Named after the Alder tree which is famed for its ability to grow on ground neglected by larger trees, the bank was formed from a merger between Ruffler Bank Plc and Base Commercial Mortgages Ltd, just over a year ago in May 2009.

However, despite what some may think, launching a bank in a time of economic uncertainty didn’t seem to faze its head of lending, Rob Lankey. Indeed, as the economy shrank – cutting the commercial property market down to size with it – Rob, former executive manager of commercial lending at Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, remained adamant that the market would return and that Aldermore would be ready for it.

“The birth of Aldermore at this time was, in hindsight, an inspired move by AnaCap. At a time when many larger banks were consumed by life-threatening issues such as losses and exposure to poor quality assets, Aldermore was focussed on developing a fast, reliable and high quality service for customers who were in desperate need of a lender that would listen to their needs.”


Rob and his colleagues didn’t waste time. In November of the same year, Absolute Invoice Finance was acquired from AnaCap and incorporated into Aldermore, further expanding its services for SMEs, which is a key target market for the bank. Six months later and residential and buy to let mortgage ranges were launched, adding to the services already being offered to the more complex and professional property investor by Aldermore’s commercial mortgage business.


What started life as a ‘small’ bank focussing on marketing a range of asset finance, leasing and commercial mortgage facilities for SMEs and fixed rate bonds, notice accounts and ISAs for savers, had grown into a fully fledged savings and lending institution; competing on the main stage and promising to deliver where the high street can’t or won’t.


“Many SMEs and customers are perfectly creditworthy but find their financial circumstances don’t fit loan scoring systems very well. They often need a little more thought and help to structure the right deal. By doing just that, Aldermore is able to attract and help customers turned down by high street lenders, but who are nonetheless good quality risks,” explains Rob.


However, though the company’s motto may well become ‘we can do’, they claim they don’t intend or want to become a ‘big bank’. Indeed, from the outset its chief executive, Phillip Monks, has decried high street banking as ineffective. When first launching Aldermore he said: “Consumers and businesses do not buy into the misplaced belief of many banks that being big is best. In reality, big often means unfocused, inefficient and insensitive to client needs.”


Having a real person answer the phone each time, (Aldermore doesn’t believe in automated telephone systems), is just one indication that the bank places greater importance on providing a market leading service, rather than simply relying on market-leading rates to generate new business. The bank believes in an old fashioned banking model, corporate service delivered personally, efficiently and fast; their rates may not always be market-leading, but they promise to always deliver - and to deliver on time, every time. 


“The apparent lure of low rates is not appealing if the loan money is not made available on time and on terms that meet the needs of the customer. Low rates can mean onerous loan security requirements and other conditions tied up in small print. There are many commercial customers out there today who were tempted by low rates and who are now feeling let down by lenders who have raised interest rates to cover the cost of their capital and losses. Aldermore has not done that and we’re always very mindful of the need to protect our good reputation,” says Rob.


And what of Aldermore’s future? “Aldermore has ambitious plans and it’s a name that small and medium sized businesses are going to hear a lot more of over the coming weeks and months. And as far as commercial lending is concerned, our vision is underpinned by the desire to do everything better than any other company in our field.”



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