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Alba Bank hires ex-SFE CEO Jones as chair

Jim McColl and Graeme Jones

Graeme Jones, former chief executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, has been named chair of the Jim McColl-backed small business investment bank Alba.

Mr McColl is a founding investor in Alba which aims to become Scotland’s version of new-style digital banks such as Monzo and Revolut. It hopes to get its banking licence by the end of the year.

It had been due to launch in the second half of last year, and the delay has been blamed on the impact of the pandemic and current economic conditions.

The appointment of Mr Jones is a clear indication that it is closer to becoming operational. He spent 40 years in a range of senior operational roles with companies such as Standard Life, RBS, Aviva Life and Experian.

As CEO at Scottish Financial Enterprise, he oversaw growth in membership and revenue, alongside helping to establish FinTech Scotland. He also founded the SFE Young Professionals Network.

He said: “I’m truly excited to be joining the highly motivated team at Alba aiming to launch the first new bank in the West of Scotland in over 130 years.

“Throughout my career I have been passionate about giving innovative and driven SMEs the support they need to continue to be the backbone of the UK economy and I’m convinced Alba, with its focus on relationship banking, will do just that.”

Rod Ashley, CEO of Alba, told Daily Business last month that the bank is making progress towards getting regulatory approval. It is working closely with both the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority and aims to become a fully operational, digital-first bank serving SMEs throughout Scotland and the UK regions.

A Series A funding round steered by Seismic Venture Partners was launched in early 2021 to raise £5m directly aimed at smaller investors with a minimum investment size of £1,000.

Commenting on Mr Jones’ appointment, former Airdrie Savings Bank chief Mr Ashley said: “While the last couple of years have unquestionably been challenging as we, like so many businesses, have been impacted by Covid-19 and the subsequent volatile economic climate, we believe this appointment represents our confidence in reaching the next important step in our journey of becoming a fully licensed SME-focused bank.

“Graeme has an impressive track record within the financial services industry and is the perfect additional to our existing team as we know he shares our steadfast determination on becoming a new bank with a clear vision and purpose – to support small and medium-sized businesses as they develop their aspirations, grow and realise their potential.”

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