Name: Paul Swainbank
Job title: Sales and marketing director
Company: Stroud & Swindon Building Society
How did you get into marketing?
I was at Abbey National in the early 80s when it was a building
Abbey then had ambitions to be a plc. I was involved in the launch of
their Granny Bond and Cheque Account products.
What qualities do you need to succeed in this industry?
You need to have the audacity to pull off what others talk of doing but
never quite get around to implementing. Tenacity is useful in seeing a
gap and then going for it.
What was your big break?
Joining TSB post-privatisation. The senior management team was very
progressive, open-minded and ’hungry’.
How does the industry differ from when you started?
It was more complacent then, with fewer new entrants. The barriers to
entry are now significantly lower and there has been more change in the
past ten years in financial services than in the previous 50.
What is your view on demutualisation and is Stroud & Swindon likely to
follow this trend?
Mutuality allows the building society sector to put the customer first
rather than compromising between customer value and shareholder value. I
have operated in a plc and the difference at Stroud & Swindon is that
staff are literally focused on looking after customers personally. In my
first few weeks, it has been striking to see how strongly Stroud &
Swindon branch managers defend their responsibility, for instance, in
dealing with individual mortgage customers. This customer focus would be
lost with a focus on share price. Stroud & Swindon strategy is to
promote mutuality and thereby customer value. This organisation is
committed to remaining independent.
Which individual has influenced you most in your career?
I have been lucky enough to have had several inspirational individuals
as bosses over the years, although I would have to say that I have
admired from afar Peter Wood - the Direct Line business model is the
most fundamental paradigm shift in financial services of recent
What characteristics do you look for in the people you do business
I tend to go for tenacity and free-thinkers, although you always need to
have some constrainers. Commitment and delivery is also critical to
success in financial services.
What are the challenges for the financial industry over the next few
The building society sector has massive opportunities, particularly in
truly being ’closer to the customer’. Mutuality is virtually synonymous
with customer value and there is no question of a conflict between
shareholders and customers. We just need to demonstrate it louder and
What would be the one piece of career advice you would give?
Trust your intuition. If you have not got enough - and nobody has - work
on it and back it.
What has been your biggest mistake?
Rejecting the opportunity to launch a direct bank in 1987.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Launching TSB PhoneBank as a new proposition and facing the thrills and
spills of a new business venture.
1987 - 1995: Director of channel marketing, TSB Bank
1995 - 1997: Managing director, telephone banking, Lloyds TSB Group
1997 - 1999: Business development director, financial services, Europe,
1999 - present: Executive director, sales & marketing, Stroud & Swindon
This article was first published on Marketing