This would-be bank has taken a key step towards getting its licence

Hayley Kirton
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Redwood Bank has taken a step towards becoming a fully-fledged bank (Source: Getty)

Acorn Financial Partners has today applied for a banking licence from the regulators.

The challenger bank in the making, which will initially focus its efforts on small businesses in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, will be called Redwood Bank once it is authorised.

Acorn is hopeful the banking licence will be granted by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in early 2017 and will be able to open to customers in the same year.

The bank will be led by Jonathan Rowland, who is the son of property developer David Rowland and will be chairman of Redwood Bank, and Gary Wilkinson, who will be chief executive.

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"This is an ideal time to apply for a full banking licence; the major banks have not returned to anywhere near their pre-crisis business lending levels and the uncertainty caused by Brexit is likely to worsen the situation," said Rowland. "At the same time, SMEs have shown a strong appetite for new market entrants offering competitive rates and superior customer service.

"Against this backdrop, we have a compelling opportunity to build a secure, robust and profitable bank."

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Wilkinson added:

I am certain that Redwood's relationship-driven, agile and traditional approach, combined with straightforward and transparent products, will resonate among ambitious business owners seeking to grow over the coming years.

If all goes to plan, Redwood Bank will be joining a string of recently licenced challenger banks, as Monzo, Atom and Tandem have all also been granted their banking licences within the last two years.

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