Interview –

Sustainability and the future of banking

Tippie Malgwi is a Commercial Banking Executive at Arbuthnot Latham. He recently won The Chartered Banker Institute's Young Banker of the Year. Entrants were asked to present an idea they could develop in their organisation that would improve outcomes for customers. He has also just spoken at the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative Annual conference.


13th January 2021


Tippie Malgwi

Being closer to the start of my career than the end, perhaps my main observation so far is that many mainstream perceptions about banking often don’t see the bigger picture. So far in my career, I’ve seen how much of a force for positive change it can be.

To paraphrase a famous saying, banking and finance makes the world go around. The economy is built on people’s access to financial support and that makes us, bankers, not just financial custodians, but in some ways, arbiters of the economy. It dawned on me, from the outset, that I had a vital role to play in my clients’ businesses and I wasn’t just a banker but also an ally to the charities, care homes, hospitality trades, manufacturers, consultancies, construction and the other numerous businesses we support. A career in finance provides a license to transcend sectors and serve as a valuable resource to all.

How banking should be

Banks don’t have to be transactional, for bankers, we’re part of the family, part of the business. Our clients call us to get our input, we play a part in decision making from the small stuff to the big; we often sit in on board meetings. I feel honoured when people call me and ask for advice. It’s opened up a whole world for me, I never thought I’d be privy to these conversations.

Responsible banking to me is about making a positive contribution to society, starting with our clients and connections. It is about us bankers, effectively cultivating relationships to understand what’s important to our clients and working in their best interests for the betterment of their businesses and the wider society. This could take the form of funding eco-housing initiatives for our construction clients or providing targeted banking solutions for vulnerable clients, both of which are forward thinking initiatives that we champion here at Arbuthnot Latham.

The importance of responsible banking

COVID-19 has laid bare the fact that certain sectors of society are more vulnerable than others. I serve as a trustee for Disabled Living, a Manchester-based charity that provides advice about products and services for people living with disabilities. We see first-hand the importance of providing practical solutions for people in this space. It was this thought process that informed my decision to design a conceptual banking solution for people living with serious injury or severe medical conditions under the Court of Protection umbrella called the Serious Injury Life Care account (aka the SILC account), which culminated in me winning the 2020 CBI YBOY award.

It was a real honour to be named The Chartered Banker Institute’s Young Banker of the Year. It is really important to further the conversation around offering focused banking solutions to under-served communities and also highlight the wider societal benefits to be derived from serving this vulnerable sector. Speaking at the UN event was an amazing experience. The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative is a really good way to learn about how access to the right finance and expertise can drive society forward.

Future challenges for banking

We are now in a world where our clients and customers now expect more from us as banks. Our generation expects their banks, and we the bankers, to actively champion positive societal change. This needs to be evident in our brand values and how we do business with integrity, empowerment and diversity serving as the core principles.

At the moment, it’s hard to think about banking being face-to-face anymore. It will always have to be a mix of digital. This year has forced us to speed up towards a more technological offering. At Arbuthnot Latham, we’re investing in the right technology and make sure we’re able to deliver for clients. But there will always be f2f but complemented by technology. Even clients who used to be technological adverse have really embraced the new technology and see the benefits for them. It’s moved both the bank and the clients in the right direction.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for us as bankers is to keep up with the exponential rate of change in society. For example, if you want to work with companies building eco homes, you need to understand cutting edge building materials and techniques. This is true in every sector.

Each year, we run Inspiring Innovator of the Year, which aims to uncover the most forward-thinking and entrepreneurial companies. The winner is then given mentoring by Arbuthnot Latham as they continue on their journey. Initiatives like this are crucial as they allow banks and entrepreneurs to foster the kinds of relationships that unlock finance for businesses who are driving positive change for tomorrow.

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