When Anne Boden, the founder and CEO of Starling Bank, first approached PwC five years ago, she wanted our help with just one thing: “To change banking forever.” That’s a pretty tall order.
In 2014, five big banks shared 85% of the UK banking market between them. The barriers to entry were substantial, and overcoming the competition for market share was not for the faint hearted. Undaunted by such obstacles, Anne had a big ambition to build a different and better bank; one that was focused on the customer. She involved PwC from the outset, and together we started creating something quite unique.
We have supported the growth and diversification of Starling Bank ever since. Having originally supported the launch of their personal banking offer, we have just finished work on their business banking proposition, helping the bank secure the recognition and awards it deserves for daring to break new ground. In 2019, Starling was voted Best British Bank, Best Current Account, and Best Business Bank at the British Bank Awards, and has been a worthy winner of a £100m grant from the Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF) – a fund set up to stimulate competition in the UK business banking market, and improve outcomes for business banking customers.
Starling has shown that it can innovate and change the shape of the UK banking sector. What’s more important, though, is that its success proves that a gap in the market for this offering existed, and that the sector needed to change and embrace that customer need. As a direct outcome of our work together, competition is being rebalanced in the UK banking market and banking experiences for hundreds of thousands of customers have been materially improved.
PwC has supported Starling from day one – through the ups and downs of a start-up, to becoming a multi-award-winning bank that will truly change the face of banking in the UK.
Our efforts over the past year have significantly contributed to the momentum: Starling launched its innovative business bank successfully in early 2018, adding multi-owner accounts in July this year. It is the only full-service digital bank of its kind in the sector. Just 16 months after launch, Starling’s mobile business bank account had almost 60,000 customers.
The £100m grant we secured has also marked a fundamental turning point in Starling’s history. The bank is using the grant to build further digital banking products, intelligent forecasting tools and digitally-enabled relationship management functions, as well as novel lending products. Specifically, the award is enabling Starling to:
- build a full suite of 52 digital business banking products;
- create nearly 400 new jobs in the UK; and
- make more than £900m of lending available to small business owners.
Whilst the legacy of this project is yet to be fully realised in the market, the lessons we learnt have already helped us to refine our thinking and our approach to digital banking – informing conversations and engagements with many of our most strategically important clients, and enabling us to contribute in our own way to the evolution of UK banking.
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