24 Sep 2010

John Mason has today put his new account with the Airdrie Savings Bank into operation by making his first deposit there. ASB has seven branches with only one being in Glasgow – in Baillieston. (This part of Glasgow was traditionally in Lanarkshire.)

Today also saw the Independent Commission on Banking confirm that it will consider whether the larger banks should be broken up. The banks argue this should not happen (no surprise there then!) as they say smaller banks have also failed. But the reality is smaller banks can either be more easily saved by the government or allowed to fold while savers are protected. On the other hand larger banks have governments over a barrel as they cannot be allowed to fail because of the huge impact this would have on the economy. Clearly the UK is far too small a country to stand up to these banks and was effectively forced to bail them out.

At the same time ordinary customers of these large banks find they get a less and less personal service. Even the proposal by the banks to phase out cheques is clearly for the convenience of themselves and has nothing to do with giving the customer what they actually want. By contrast even the large supermarkets do make an attempt to give the shopper what he or she is looking for!

So John has become so fed up with the larger banks that he has decided to open an account with his local Airdrie Savings Bank. He said, “It was so refreshing to go into the Baillieston branch today and deal with friendly helpful staff. It was such a contrast to the big bank I have been dealing with for years. The ASB used to be treated as a bit of a laughing stock by its bigger industry brothers but things have certainly changed. Now the Airdrie is being seen as a possible model for future development of a better banking system.”

1. The Airdrie Savings Bank is Britain’s only independent savings bank.
2. A group of Scotland’s leading businessmen have come together to support the expansion of Airdrie Savings Bank outside of its Lanarkshire homeland. The list includes Brian Souter, Ewan Brown, Alastair Salvesen, Sir Tom Farmer, Ann Gloag, Sir Angus Grossart, Sir David Murray and DC Thomson & Co Ltd. The plan to create at least one, and possibly two new branches over the next 18 months, comes as the bank celebrates its 175th birthday. (From the ASB website)