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The team at Clyde Blowers Capital has been playing a prominent role in helping to launch Alba Bank, which will be a challenger bank focused on lending to SMEs across the UK regions. The bank will provide loans to SMEs in the UK through a modern digital platform and placing an emphasis on the core skills of relationship banking.  

On reading the announcement in January 2017 of the decision to wind Airdrie Savings Bank (ASB) down, CBC’s Chairman and CEO, Jim McColl OBE, first met with Rod Ashley, ASB’s former CEO, to explore the possibility of retaining their banking licence but changing the strategy to focus on the UK SME banking market. Although an Act of Parliament prevented ASB to transfer their current banking license, the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) were encouraging of a new business proposal and bank application from the team. 

Emboldened by the PRA’s initial feedback, CBC successfully led the seed funding to establish Alba in April 2018, while the other members of the founding team worked on a business plan to create a purpose-built SME-focused bank, to be Headquartered in Scotland and serving the UK regions. 

CBC has continued to support the aspiring bank through its application process and has been hugely impressed by the progress made to date. In December 2019, Alba announced they had formally submitted their application for a banking license to the Regulator, representing an important milestone in the journey of becoming a fully licensed bank.  

Jim McColl, CEO of CBC, commented:

“We believe there is a strong demand for a new purpose-built lender to SMEs in the UK, incorporating the latest technology available in the market and an emphasis on the core banking skills of the relationship manager. The bank will be focused on lending to SMEs in Scotland and the Northern Regions of the UK. 

As the UK SME market continues to be affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic, we firmly believe Alba will play a crucial role in supporting the SME community and the wider economic recovery throughout the regions of the UK.” 

Rod Ashley, CEO of Alba, added:

“The guidance and support of Jim McColl and his CBC team have been key elements in our drive to be in the strong position we find ourselves in today. We are on track to launch as a fully operational bank in 2021 and remain confident of receiving our authorisation with restrictions this Autumn. The achievement of that milestone will enable us to be known by our official name, Alba Bank.

The backing from Jim and his team will be a critical part of our work as we develop our business to be able to provide the necessary funding and support to UK-based SMEs as they strive to recover from today’s challenging climate and continue to be the backbone of the British economy.” 

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