SPECIALIST lender Aldermore has not seen a drop in business since the vote in favour of Brexit and still has plenty of room for growth in its existing markets, according to its chief executive.
Phillip Monks said it was important for City-based firms to remember that regions like Yorkshire have their own identities, and there is a danger of getting lost in a “London fog”. He also said that he was keen to see the financial community underpin the Government’s plans for a Northern Powerhouse.
Aldermore is a specialist lender and savings bank that offers products to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), homeowners, landlords and individuals, which it believes are under-served by the wider market.
Aldermore employs nearly 900 people, including more than 20 staff based in Leeds. There have been concerns that the uncertainty linked to Brexit could lead to deferred investment decisions.
Mr Monks told The Yorkshire Post: ““We haven’t seen any change (since the EU referendum). It’s too early to tell.
“If you look at economic forecasts, or any types of forecasts out there, there is such a range of outcomes.
“But we haven’t seen any fall off in our business finance propositions, nor have we seen any fall off in our mortgage customers applications either.
“There is a lot of uncertainty out there and people are right to be cautious. But we sit here feeling quite optimistic.”
He also said that the Bank of England’s recent rate cut would have a negligible effect on Aldermore.
He added: “We’ve got plenty of room to grow in our existing markets and also into adjacent markets as well. We feel very comfortable.
“We don’t put any size targets on it (the business). As much as we are celebrating how well we have grown, we have tiny market shares..So the opportunity is there for us to grow without having to look at adverse credit or skewed margins. Which is why we feel optimistic about it.
“If the economy does change, you’re not looking at an executive team here that just has volume in its eyes.”
He said that Aldermore did not regard itself as a “challenger bank” but as a specialist lender serving SMEs, who had previously been neglected.
He added: “SMEs, for as long as I’ve been in banking, have said, ‘The bank doesn’t understand me.’
“It doesn’t understand what I’m going through as an individual..increasingly, because banking has been de-skilled in the branch network.
“We’ve been going for seven and a half years, so this is a well-established bank now.”
Aldermore places great emphasis on forging links with businesses in places like Yorkshire.
Mr Monks added: “There are more deals to be done up here. To some extent, banks can be too London-centric, and the only office we have in London is the finance team and our investor relations team. Our biggest offices are in Reading for asset finance, in the North West for mortgages, and Leeds and Glasgow.
“We don’t want to be based in London and coming out; we want to be seen as a regional bank supporting SMEs. If you are what I call a ‘proper banker’, the greatest pleasure you have is going out and seeing your customers. We’re not constantly on that Virgin Train coming out of London, here for five minutes, and then going back again.”
Aldermore is a specialist lender that was founded in 2009, during the height of the financial crisis.
Aldermore has no branch network but serves customers and intermediary partners online, by phone and face to face through its network of regional offices.
At the end of March 2016, lending to customers stood at £6.5 billion and customer deposits totalled £6.2 billion.
V-Seal, a manufacturer of specialist seals and gaskets based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, recently agreed a combined £250,000 invoice finance facility with Aldermore. The extended funding will allow V-Seal to move premises and install a new laser cutting machine.