Bank North - building a new bank.

19th November 2021

Bank North set out to change the face of business lending fuelled with an ambition to create an alternative banking option for SME businesses that are traditionally underserved by high street banks.

Technology would play a pivotal role in creating a leaner, more efficient operation built around the customer to enable faster customer acquisition and lending that would challenge the market status quo.

The partnership with Answer began in late 2018 with the aim of bringing the ambitious vision to market. The target was to deliver loans within two weeks of the first contact. A promise that would set Bank North apart from the competition.

Answer worked as part of the team to develop an end-to-end technology-enabled banking operation that delivers a superior customer experience. The ability to deliver funds within two weeks would be truly disruptive in a market that usually takes three to six months to agree a loan.

Answer and Bank North started with a blank whitewall and, through accelerated discovery, created an end-to-end customer journey. The team brought the proposition to life, along with all digital touchpoints customers could have with the bank.

The team worked closely to define technology and operational capability models. It constantly refined the ‘go-to market’ scope of pre-launch activity. Reference architecture designs were created, enabling technical vendor evaluation, assessment and onboarding.

Recognising the value in data, Answer worked with Bank North to create their data management and warehousing strategies. Answer continues to support Bank North as a key technology partner.

The multi-disciplinary team is central to the Bank North proposition. The concept of collaboration as a priority is combined with rapid decision making. It’s an approach that resonates with Agile software development and helped to speed up the process between Answer and Bank North.

Capability modelling and the definition of what an organisational minimum viable product could look like set the priorities for starting to create a go-to-market plan, alongside the mobilisation of banking license. The approach ensured Bank North was working with technology providers capable of fulfilling the proposition ambitions. The approach helped to streamline the process while increasing the speed to market.

Data was central to Bank North’s vision. It would unlock the ability to accelerate the lending process and provide an industry-leading view of the customer. Security and compliance were also critical factors. Teams from Answer and Bank North worked together to shape and mobilise the programme. The relationship then developed to examine technical plans that ranged from data architecture to data warehousing and design.

Cloud systems were central to the Bank’s plans for a decentralised lending structure. The model is unique. Cloud-native banking technology powers a network of regional ‘Pods’, where experienced bankers deliver committed finance to businesses up to ten times faster than the industry standard.

Answer examined the ‘pods’ and multi-disciplinary teams to understand each touchpoint in the customer journey from enquiry to the drawdown of funds. The pods are the backbone of a unique de-centralised model where loans are tailored to the circumstances of each business, locally decisioned and delivered.

Andrea Dalton, operations director at Bank North, said: “Working with the team at Answer was an important part of the evolution of our offer. It was exciting to start with a blank piece of paper and deliver a roadmap that will provide an unmatched experience to our customers.

“When you work with Answer, it quickly becomes clear that they have a unique culture that shapes everything they do. From the Academy to the commitment of the team, it’s an inspiring working culture.”

The use of advanced technology will give customers a great experience and help to reduce the costs of operating Bank North. In addition, leaner running costs will help to support the company’s rapid expansion plans.

Gary Parlett, founder and CEO of Answer, remains on the board of Bank North to ensure the organisation continues to benefit from the latest technology.

Gary said: “Bank North is a great example of how an ambitious vision to shake up finance for small businesses can be realised with the support of the latest technology. A scalable, compliant and robust solution can be quickly put in place to give customers an industry-leading experience.”

Bank North will open the doors of its first lending Pod in Manchester later this year, before a managed roll-out across the UK. Bank North is backed by blue-chip investors, including the likes of LHV Group, LHV Asset Management, Skipton Building Society, Channel 4 Ventures, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Dean Benson, a successful UK-based Entrepreneur and Steve Davis - Entrepreneur and CEO of Grantside Ltd.

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