To the great relief of government and taxpayers alike, the Treasury has finally managed to dispose of its entire stake in Lloyds bank. It had to inject more than £20 billion into the bank during the financial crisis nine years ago.
Lloyds chairman Lord Blackwell was pleased that the government had even made a small profit. Although the Lloyds chairman made no comment about it, the unspoken comparison with Royal Bank of Scotland was clear.
Future investment plans
Lloyds is now looking toward the future, and Blackwell wants to lead a transformation of the bank’s business model, using new technology effectively and improving the skills of the bank’s employees so that they can give customers what they want. As with all business transformations, the devil will be in the detail and a strategy team is currently working out how to implement this transformation. Results are expected early next year.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Lord Blackwell refused to be drawn on precisely how big his investment in technology is going to be, but he is plainly determined to spend as much as he needs to in order to put Lloyds at the forefront of modern, customer-focused banks. Many IFAs are pursuing a similar path, upgrading their software with the latest back office systems for financial advisers such as https://www.intelliflo.com/ in order to improve customer focus.
Branches will still be key
Lloyds still has 2,000 branches in the UK, spread across its three main groups: Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Lloyds itself. Surprisingly, Lord Blackwell does not see massive branch closures as the key to transforming the bank’s position. Until now, this has very much been the way that banks have cut costs, replacing personal contact with technology-based operations.
Lloyds is going to look at whether it can maintain micro branches with a small staff whilst maintaining a continuing presence in local communities. In fact, the presence may even be in supermarkets or other locations; Blackwell is ruling nothing out at the moment. Mobile branches are definitely going to be part of the mix.
However, all is not necessarily rosy because following a massive £17 billion bill for mis-selling, there are now whispers about car finance as the next big liability. For the taxpayers’ sake, let’s hope the whispers are wrong.