TSB is back. It’s big news in the banking world as of this week, Lloyds dropping it from its own brand name after TSB’s official separate launching on 9th September, but the savings bank isn’t stepping forth with an entire severance of the past. Rather, the 1810-founded TSB is embracing its admirable historic beginnings and starting afresh, with learned lessons from the recession and original values for the future. TSB’s makeover sees it become “the largest new bank ever to be launched in the UK”.
As the Gaelic proverb goes, “in order to know where you are going it is sometimes necessary to know where you have come from”, so TSB is advertising its comeback with a short and hopeful tale of its beginnings, when the Reverend Henry Duncan saw a need to support ‘hardworking people’ with their finances and promote growth by aiding their endeavours. It was on the back of such sentiments that the Trustee Savings Bank was begun by Duncan in Ruthwell, Dumfrieshire at the start of the 19th century, “so that everyone, regardless of wealth or position, could benefit from a savings bank” for their annual wages. It was the first of its kind in the world.
Nevertheless, that world has changed. TSB will still be, in all senses, a British retail bank and, as such, aim to “focus on local customers, local businesses and local communities”. Further, TSB will always be about community. As in 1985, when the savings bank developed charitable trusts utilising 1% of pre-tax profits, TSB will remain intent on “helping neighbours buy their homes or enabling shops or businesses to grow”. Indeed, this was the reason for merging with Lloyds Bank in 1995, to increase those donations for the foundations – before individual shareholders were washed away and the chequered history of the millennium’s first decade onwards took sway.
Now headed by Chief Executive Paul Pester, TSB is headquartered in Edinburgh, returning to its Scottish roots. Currently, it remains as a separate division of parent company Lloyds Banking Group, but it will be fully divested in 2014. This follows the 2012 ruling by Scotland’s senior judge, the Lord President, Lord Hamilton, that Lloyds Banking Group pay £3.5million to the TSB Foundation for Scotland, which it reneged on in 2009 due to the banking crisis. Nevertheless, of 632 branches, 446 will be in England and Wales, 164 from the previous Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society (another 19th century company developed to aid the more disadvantaged that also joined with Lloyds in 1995), and the remaining branches will be from Lloyds TSB Scotland.
Given its recent history, it is understandable that TSB is promoting its foundations and traditional values instead, resurrecting its original ‘three circles’ logo and offering customers “a full range of personal and business banking and financial services, including current accounts, mortgages, credit products, insurance, and savings products”, making it a true ‘challenger bank’ to the revitalised Lloyds Bank on the high street. But what would the Reverend Duncan make of it?