Key hires unveiled for SME-focused Alba Bank

Robert Sharpe and Andrew Lewis

Alba Bank – the UK’s newest challenger bank dedicated to supporting SMEs – has appointed banking industry duo Robert Sharpe and Andrew Lewis as chairman and chief risk officer.

Mr Sharpe brings is a 45 year veteran of retail banking and currently chairs at Metro Bank, Hampshire Trust Bankand Pollen Street.

Mr Lewis has spent 25 years in financial services and joins from Aldermore Bank where he served three years as chief risk officer.

Prior to that he was an expert partner at Bain & Co in its financial services & digital practice. Before that spebt 20 years at NatWest Group where he held a number of senior business and risk roles, most recently MD, commercial & private banking. He was also co-founder of NatWest’s Esme Loans, an SME digital lending platform. 

Founded by Scottish entrepreneur, Jim McColl in 2018, with its headquarters in Glasgow, Alba Bank was established to provide commercial finance to UK SMEs which remain underserved by the mainstream banks. Alba is developing a network of regional commercial finance experts with the experience to work alongside SMEs as they grow.

Alba was granted its banking licence by the UK Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and the FCA, earlier this year, allowing it to move into mobilisation, during which time it is currently focusing on building out its team, operations and infrastructure. 

Rod Ashley, chief executive, said: “With the addition of Robert and Andy to our leadership team, Alba has reached another crucial milestone in our journey towards launch. We’ve now got a team with the right experience and values to deliver a new challenger bank aimed at supporting SMEs to achieve their true potential.

“Robert and Andy bring considerable experience of running successful retail banks, at big institutions and smaller challenger banks. Their insight into the challenges and opportunities of creating a bank committed to serving SMEs will be invaluable as we accelerate plans for launch.”

Mr Sharpe said: “I’m looking forward to using my experience of building successful challenger banks to helping Alba achieve its vision and strategy. Alba is now well-set for the next stage of its journey, with a strong board, an experienced executive team and supportive shareholders.

“The bank is well capitalised and fully focused on building a modern, customer-centric, efficient organisation which can successfully take on the competition. I am very excited to be part of this new venture.”

Mr Lewis said: “I’ve spent a lot of my career working with the SME sector which has been consistently failed by the big banks. There are many reasons for that failure, but we see a real opportunity for Alba to champion this key part of the UK economy as a specialist lender. I’m delighted to be part of it.”

“As CRO I’ll be focussed on helping mobilise a safe, scalable and sustainable bank, ensuring that we have the full confidence and backing of our key stakeholders, and offering compelling SME lending and online savings propositions to our customers”.  

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