Thursday 17th November was a big day for our clients, Virgin Money. By an astonishing quirk of fate, the opening of the first two of their new concept Lounges (Edinburgh and Norwich) coincided with the announcement by the chancellor, George Osborne, that the Northern Rock has been sold to Virgin Money.
This is a huge milestone for VM and one towards which they have been working for several years. They are determined to cause a stir in the world of banking – even though some in the industry are still describing their status as a minnow. If being 10th largest bank with 4 million customers makes you a minnow, it gives you some idea of the stranglehold that the big banks have on the market. Mind you, being smaller has never bothered Virgin businesses in the past – when VM first launched their internet based PEPS business back in 1995, existing players in their market saw them as irritants – mosquitoes if you like!! And we all know how much trouble mosquitoes can cause, don’t we?!
Over the past 6 months Tom Peters Company has been running events for all existing staff to help them to see their part in building the bank of the future. The commitment in time and money to run these events was extraordinary, given the manic level of activity that was going on in the business. But Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the Chief Executive, has always set great store by keeping everyone involved – the events are designed both to communicate but also to give everyone the chance to have a say.
And as for these lounges – what on earth are they about? The answer is that they are all about relationships and definitely not about transacting or selling. The return on investment may be very difficult to quantify, but the stir they are likely to create may well be just what’s required in these times of financial stalemate.
It’s going to be an exciting time for VM – wish them luck!!