Getting To Know Louise Halliwell - Bank North Head of Savings
What are the main functions of your role?
A major function in my role as Head of Savings is to ensure that we have a great savings proposition that attracts customers to bring their savings to us, which will then in turn support our lending activities. To solidify Bank North as a key player in the financial services market, we need to have a competitive and compelling savings proposition. The savings team will look at competitor activity, market activity, product development & innovation, forecasting, pricing, and a lot of other factors to attract customers and their balances in a cost effective and sustainable manner.
Once we’re up and running with our savings range we will continuously evolve our proposition to ensure that we continue to offer a variety of products through a range of channels to appeal to savings customers and their needs.
How important are savers to delivering the benefit of Bank North to UK SME's (small and medium-sized enterprises)?
Savers are key to supporting SMEs up and down the country. Our savings customers essentially provide us with funding that we lend to SMEs. From a savings customer perspective, not only will they get a great service and competitive rates but they will be supporting the British economy and local businesses. As a business model, it is fairly simple, and it’s nice to know that as a saver – you are supporting British business.
How does the challenge of working at a start-up compare to working at a more established organisation?
The great thing about working for a start-up is that there isn’t a legacy structure there. Quite often with an established organisation there are inherited ways of working, legacy systems and infrastructures in place. One downside of this is that there are usually better ways of doing things - both for the business and the customer. Working for a start-up like Bank North, there’s a real opportunity to set things up as you want them to be. To do what’s right by both the bank and the customer, without any legacy infrastructure influencing your decision making which is fantastic.
At Bank North, there is a great sense of energy, and everyone is focused on the same goal of launching a bank. I really enjoy it, and being a part of that journey to build a new bank is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Across the UK, inflation is making it harder for many people to save as much as they want – how can people maximise their savings?
It’s been a really tough time for savers, as over the last couple of years interest rates have stayed at an all-time low. But there are a couple of ways to maximise your savings. Firstly, by shopping around and doing some research you might find that you can find a better return for your savings - so always look around and compare what’s on the market to make the best decision for you and your savings.
Secondly, it’s really important to consider how much you’re likely to need to access to your savings. Absolutely, you need instant access to rainy day funds to cover unexpected things like your boiler exploding or needing a leaky roof repair, but you can often get a better return by being able to tie some money away. If you’re looking to get a better return, ask yourself if you can forgo some accessibility on some of your savings.
Those would be my top tips for maximising savings. Shop around and have a look at providers other than your current account provider, also think about access versus rate, and always try to regularly save money when you can.
Outside of work, how do you like to spend your spare time?
I like to spend a lot of my time outdoors, and I do a lot of wild swimming. There’s a reservoir close to where I live, so my mates and I enjoy getting into our wetsuits and going for a dip. We even go in December which might seem a bit crazy but it’s quite exhilarating!
Beyond the outdoors, I love socialising with friends and going on holiday. I also play the piano which is a good way of switching off and hopefully not annoying the neighbours too much at the end of a busy day.