Getting To Know David Travis - Bank North Company Secretary & General Counsel

What are the main functions of your role?

There are three main functions of my role. The first is Company Secretary, supporting the board of directors. This includes collating and circulating board and board committee papers with the right content to enable informed and effective decision-making. I’m also responsible for preparing all board and committee minutes and Companies Act compliance requirements, such as Companies House filings, the maintenance of all company registers and overseeing board training. I also answer shareholder questions that come in from time to time.

The second function is General Counsel, so all legal work comes through me. This ranges from contracts with suppliers to investment agreements. Fortunately we are very well supported by the handful of law firms that we work closely with.

And the third function is Data Protection Officer. Protecting personal data is so important for a business like ours dealing with SME lending and retail savings customers. It’s vital to have all the right safeguards in place to ensure that customer and employee personal data are properly stored and processed, both on our own internal systems and those of third parties who process personal data on our behalf.

The varied nature of my role means that I am usually involved in some way in major decisions made by the company, which is fascinating.

How important is strong governance and effective legal risk management to Bank North's future customers?

On the governance side of things, making effective decisions and doing the right thing are critical at all levels of the business. Forums like the board need to allow everyone to air their views and have constructive and challenging conversations. Diversity is so important in this respect, not just in terms of people’s characteristics but also their backgrounds and perspectives, so that we avoid “groupthink”. In all board decisions we need to consider the potential impact on our customers and other stakeholders like employees, suppliers, the environment, society and, of course, our shareholders. So having strong governance is essential.

There’s a bit of overlap with legal risk management because it’s all about operating within the right legal and regulatory framework. So our outsourcing agreements need to comply with regulatory requirements, not just in terms of what goes in each contract but the way in which we manage each supplier and monitor their performance. And our terms and conditions for our savings products, for example, need to be clear and fair so that they can be easily understood by customers.

How does the challenge of working at a start-up compare to working at a more established organisation?

I think it’s very different because I’ve worked for some large institutions in the past where at times you can feel like a small cog in a very big machine. Those organisations can be bureaucratic and things can take a long time to turn around. Whereas when you’ve got a start-up like Bank North, everything is brand new. Market-leading tech, no legacy conduct or systems issues, and if you want to make changes you’re nimble and can move very quickly. I love that dynamic. And the culture here is fantastic.

At what stage of an SME’s growth should they consider the appointment of a company secretary?

That’s interesting because private companies aren’t legally required to appoint a company secretary, but public ones are. What I would say is having a company secretary and having strong corporate governance is of value to any business regardless of its size or stage in its evolution, as they help key operational and strategic decisions to be made in the most effective way possible. For some businesses in regulated sectors, it’s particularly important, as regulators expect corporate governance frameworks to be properly embedded, and a company secretary is ideally placed to support that.

Outside of work, how do you like to spend your spare time?

Well, I’ve got two very small kids, so they keep me busy with parties and all sorts of different activities. Whenever we can find a babysitter, it’s nice just to go out and have dinner with friends. Last year was tough because we couldn’t do much of that normal stuff. I also like running, so I try to go out for a run a couple of times a week. In September a few of us from Bank North did the Great Manchester Run, which was a fun event with a brilliant atmosphere.
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Bank North Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register number 848024). Bank North Limited is a company registered in England and Wales (company number 11030672) and its registered office is Suite 20A, Manchester One, 53 Portland Street, Manchester, M1 3LD.

Bank North has been Authorised with Restrictions since 24th August 2021, at which point the firm entered a phase known as mobilisation. During this phase, the bank will be undertaking lending activities but will not be accepting customer deposits.