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Why big banks have lost their way, according to the boss of Arbuthnot Latham

Hayley Kirton
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The big banks line the skyline of Canary Wharf
Arbuthnot Latham is "continuing to nibble away at" the customers the big banks are losing (Source: Getty)

Banking's biggest players have forgotten how to fine tune their wealth offerings, creating opportunities for some of the sector's smaller firms, according to the boss of one long-established private bank.

Speaking to City A.M., Ian Henderson, chief executive of Arbuthnot Latham, said his bank's strategy was "around continuing to nibble away at customers either disenfranchised or unhappy with the bigger banks...[which], to my eyes, seem to have lost their way a little bit in terms of what their wealth proposition is and what their commercial banking proposition is".

Henderson took up the helm of Arbuthnot Latham earlier this year, having been head of strategic business development and chief executive of personal lending and mortgages at sister organisation Secure Trust Bank.

Read more: Arbuthnot Banking's full-year profits rose by 52 per cent

Henderson, who has previously held senior roles at Barclays and RBS, continued of the bigger banks: "The flexibility has gone. The customer service orientation has gone and [customers] are looking for an organisation that delivers that."

The recently installed Arbuthnot Latham boss added restructuring at the bigger banks was also leading to high-quality staff "knocking on our door because they see us in growth mood" as they found their current employers shedding jobs.

As his firm is predominantly a UK-centric private bank, Henderson, who confessed he went to bed on referendum night after Nigel Farage admitted defeat before he "woke up in the morning to find a somewhat different Britain", notes Arbuthnot Latham has seen "no immediate changes on the back of the [Brexit] vote" and added its clients were acting "surprised rather than panicked".

Read more: Arbuthnot’s £102m Secure Trust Bank starts life on junior market

He continued that, although the sudden jolt of exchange rate movement had initially seen clients fly into action, this too had petered out as the rates steadied. He added he expected there to be "some spikiness" in the markets when Article 50 is eventually triggered, but more due to "human nature" than any deeper or more logical reason.

Although Arbuthnot Latham has been established as a private bank since the 19th century, it launched a commercial division towards the end of last year and Henderson and his team are currently in the process of developing this offering.

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