Dear Jane and everyone at Virgin Money,
Thank you for your recent letter asking me about my perspective on how you can make banking better.
I am encouraged by your move to reach out to me in an open and inquiring way – realising the interdependencies of your business with your customers, your community and the wider world within which you operate. This is good.
However, I believe you are about to miss an incredible opportunity.
This is not just a commercial opportunity but an opportunity to REALLY make banking better here in the UK and globally. There is a chance for you to be a leader.
The context within which you operate has radically changed in the last few years. Socially. Economically. Environmentally.
I, and a groundswell of people, are realising that business and banking needs to wake up to this new context. When you do, this is when I will be inspired by your business. I will talk about you. I will switch to your brand. I will refer you to my friends.
For me, this new context is about realising the interconnectivity of your business and the responsibility your have beyond your bottom line. How are you serving the world? What is your higher purpose?
I am inspired by companies such as Patagonia, WholeFoods, Triodos, Finisterre, Neals Yard and Zappos. For example, Zappos the online shoe company’s intention is “To Deliver Happiness.” This is a business that has a higher consciousness – and one that is super attractive to all of its stakeholders. These models are financially flying as well.
It seems that, as an entrepreneurial brand, you are well placed to take a bold move to lead in this new context.
What could this look like for banking? Here are a few ideas:
How can you help to finance real people and the real economy – you could be an enabler for the exponential growth of entrepreneurs and social businesses in the UK.
How can you create a culture in your business that is open, transparent and inquiring – you could be a role model for a 21st Century organisation that inspires and attracts.
How can you take a long-term approach to building resilience in your business and in the banking sector –you could be a leader who invites others into explore and collaborate around ‘The Future of Banking’.
I really do hope that you think deeply about the context of your business and the need to reframe your purpose and ‘how’ you do things. Otherwise I have a sense that you are heading in the direction of boring business as usual. This would not be fruitful for you, the sector, or the wider world around you.
So, please rise up to the challenge of being the positively disruptive brand that people had known you for. If you do, people will come - including me.