Friday, 1 March 2013


This has been a week of listening for me. It started last Saturday morning when I hosted our quarterly Customer Form where members come along and talk to me about the financial issues that they are most concerned about. As ever , questions and discussion topics spanned a wide spectrum. I was asked about the downgrading of the UKs  AAA rating by Moodys, the prospect of negative Bank of England interest rates in the future, the impact of the Governments Funding for Lending scheme on savers rates, our plans for the branch network, the provision of external audit services by big 4 accountancy firms and inevitably the plight of savers in an economic  environment where spending is encouraged rather than prudent saving . Members attending seemed to welcome the candour of my answers even if they didn't provide a panacea and I think we did generate a bit of light as well as some heat.     In midweek I attended a breakfast meeting at our branch in Hanley to hear how a group of our staff were coping with the challenges of the mortgage market and the impact of rate-compression on customers enquiring about savings rates. It is always a priviledge to  hear stories of outstanding service in difficult circumstances, and those were a feature of my listening mode at that meeting.   I then attended a dinner with 400 guests last night at the Britannia stadium  to celebrate Gordon Banks' 75th birthday, alongside 9 Hanley colleagues who had been particularly successful in their various roles at The Hanley during the past few months and for whom this was a modest recognition of all their hard work and commitment. . As well as listening to tales of success about Englands greatest ever goalkeeper from members of the 1966 world cup squad, I also heard lots of great stuff from my own team about their optimism for the future and the ways we are promoting our excellent product range and our commitment to customer care.I feel  refreshed now, having used ears and mouth in direct proportion this week.

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