Live: Making banking better

A banking professional behind the launch of next generation lenders has penned a new book that aims to drive watershed change across the sector

Craig Iley has released Shaking The Money Tree.

Arguing the financial system is “not fit for purpose in the 21st Century,” the book seeks to trigger an economic and social revolution by empowering people to think differently about banking.

From the promotion of increased competition, to greater banking specialism and further adoption of digitalisation to deliver more transparency, it also highlights the need for extra small and medium-sized (SME) business support and how additional Government backing is needed to help market challengers enter the sector.

Based on decades of experience, which includes co-founding Durham-based mobile lender Atom Bank and building B-North to provide crucial support for SMEs, Craig says the book is a call to arms to create a much more level, informed playing field.

“We would all like to leave the world a better place than when we found it,” Craig tells North East Times.

“I’ve worked in banking for a long time, so it is a real passion for me.

“When I look at the world and I hear the call for social justice, one of the biggest ways we can contribute to that is through economic justice.

“As the financial market is the main tool for wealth distribution, improving banking seems like a logical place to start.

“I want to get more voices involved in the debate about banking and the sector itself, so that we can share more widely the benefits of a better system.

“With that in mind, I wanted people to understand the book, whether they be within banking or not,” he continues.

“Ultimately, if you want to change something, you have to understand what you’re trying to change.

“Change needs to come from the top down but it never does unless there is some pressure exerted; it only comes when there is a groundswell upwards that forces change to happen.”

Craig says he is mindful of the book appearing as a “bank bashing” exercise and is quick to point out that his critiques are based on a desire to see meaningful change that creates a fairer system for all.

This includes, say Craig – who previously worked for TSB and Alliance & Leicester – more robust frameworks that ensure problems, such as those that caused the 2008 economic crisis, are detected and solved much more quickly.

Investing in the future – read Craig Iley’s interview with North East Times from earlier this year, which looks at his career, the banking sector and future changes to improve the system.

The book also calls for greater focus on SME support – an element central to his B-North venture that aims to disrupt the £150 billion UK business lending market – which is where, says Craig, the Government-owned British Business Bank must play its part more effectively.

“I don’t want to see the banks destroyed, they are hugely important to all of us, more so than we usually realise – I want to see change for the better,” says Craig, who also spent time in Spain on secondment with Santander when the Spanish operator took over Alliance & Leicester in the late 2000s.

“We need to be on the front foot. For example, the banking crisis of 2008 had its roots 30 years earlier.

“Everything can seemingly be going fine, but when a problem does arise, it works its way through the system and becomes a very big problem.

“Going forwards, I’d like the Government to make it easier to create a bank from a financial perspective, which would create more competition but still within a robust regulatory framework.

“I’d also like more segmentation in the market, with a significant move away from universal banks, and more specialism in banking too,” he continues.

“The British Business Bank has made an impact, but I don’t think it has been extended as far as it could be yet – there is a lot more to be done in that space.

“SMEs are the dynamo for the economy, and with COVID-19 they are more important than ever.

“SMEs are the source of the nation’s wealth; we need to ensure they’ve got the support they need to succeed.”

Shaking The Money Tree is out now!