Being "open, transparent and having a laugh" are the key ingredients to maintaining a thriving business and loyal workforce, according to Redwood Bank’s CEO and Co-Founder Gary Wilkinson.
As the Hertfordshire Bank celebrates its three-year anniversary, Gary has taken some time out to reflect on the team’s success.
“I’ve learnt a great deal since we launched in 2017. One of the most important lessons I’ve come to understand is to take nothing for granted and to always try to anticipate the unexpected, so when it happens, you’re not taken completely by surprise,” he says.
“Although the biggest surprise has been COVID 19 – which definitely wasn’t in our strategic plan!”
In fact, the global pandemic took everyone by surprise and the damage the virus has done to the country’s economy is still ongoing and being unpicked.
“It has changed things significantly in financial services, as well as in every other sector in the UK and beyond. However, unlike with the 2008 Banking Crisis, this is not simply a crisis unique to the banking industry,” Gary explains.
“The large UK mainstream, systemic banks, are now much better positioned from a capital perspective than they were in 2008. They will be able to withstand whatever is thrown at them and will come through these unprecedented conditions caused by the pandemic.
“However, I don’t expect all banks will survive this and come out unscathed and I foresee there will be some failures, consolidation and merger activity.”
But despite the daily headlines screaming recession and austerity, Gary remains upbeat and confident about Redwood’s future.
“Like virtually every business, Redwood has been significantly impacted. However, being a 100 per cent cloud-based Bank, and with no branches, all staff have been able to work successfully and seamlessly from home, with virtually no impact on our customers.
“While I was confident that this new working approach would be successful, I have to say that I have been surprised and very proud of just how well the Redwood team has adapted, without compromising our strong customer service ethos, focus and delivery.
“Over the last three years we have delivered in accordance with our Business Plan and I’m looking forward to us reaching profitability in 2021, despite the unexpected consequences of COVID-19. We have developed and grown Redwood in a measured, cautious, but proactive manner, delivering excellence in customer service and providing significant added value for our shareholders. This has resulted in us being very well-positioned to navigate through the choppy waters resulting from COVID-19.”
In 2017 Redwood Bank entered the financial services arena, with new ideas, a strong customer focus and a solid commitment to its staff. This refreshing approach has obviously worked because three years later, the Bank has 22 top industry awards under its money belt and consistently secures more than 90 per cent customer satisfaction.
Gary says the secret to the Bank’s success is having an “absolute focus on treating colleagues and customers appropriately and in accordance with our values”.
Gary Wilkinson, CEO and Founder of Redwood Bank
He adds: “Each and every member of staff must be treated equally and fairly, no matter what role they are in, from the most junior employee right up to the most senior management and members of the Board.”
However, just like with any job, Gary admits there are highs and lows to being a CEO.
“The best part is most definitely experiencing immense pride when you watch people develop, grow and reach their full potential,” he says.
“But, my job also involves having to make tough decisions, including letting people go, which is definitely one of the worst aspects of my job. Fortunately, this has only had to happen on a few occasions so far at Redwood.”
Gary says he is “excited” about what the future has in store.
“We have a fantastic culture among our team. We thrive off openness, transparency and are proud of our ‘family atmosphere’, which results in tremendous loyalty, dedication, performance delivery and customer satisfaction.
“We’re a tight knit team and know that we can deal with whatever COVID, Brexit or the economy throws at us. I’m positive about what we have in store for our customers and feel confident about Redwood’s future.”