“Steady as she goes” doesn’t seem to be a compelling strategy. That’s what Debbie Crosbie, TSB Chief Executive Officer, said a few months ago. Compare that with TSB’s original mission to transform the ‘broken’ banking industry and ‘challenge’ the big five banks. The new senior management team have abandoned that call to arms and accepted TSB’s second-tier status.

In a recent presentation, Ralph Coates, TSB’s Chief Financial Officer, said:

“I think as I’ve alluded to, the competitive nature of the UK environment means that we’re not going to just leap into the market place and capture a disproportionate amount of market share, which means that our income growth is going to be challenging all the way”.

So, TSB’s new mission is survival. That’s not a compelling argument to motivate your existing staff or attract new ones to the bank. Senior executives are leaving the sinking ship at a worrying rate. TSB’s admitting for the first time that it can’t really challenge the big five banks, to any material extent, and survival depends on it getting smaller, whilst seeking to maintain its current income levels.

At the same presentation, Mr. Coates said:

“We need to, in terms of our business model and protecting it, we need to open up the gap between income and cost. Our cost base is still heavy relative to the income we’re earning. So we need to continue to push on the cost side which is why Debbie has alluded to a continued look at efficiency”.

When it’s announced later this year, TSB’s new strategy will be about increasing productivity (more sales), becoming more efficient (doing the same with significantly less staff), managing costs (cutting back on everything including pay and benefits) and extracting more value from the ‘new’ IT system (probably getting it away from Sabis and outsourcing it). Debbie’s not going to be pulling any rabbits out of the hat. She’s managing a business that is going to be sold in a few years’ time. That’s means cutting costs and improving revenues, so TSB looks attractive to potential buyers.

Paul Pester once said: “It is immensely rewarding taking on the big banks”. It seems that TSB’s senior management team is content with just being around long enough to sell the business to the highest bidder. In that environment staff need a clear, independent voice that isn’t controlled by TSB – we’re going to provide it.

Members with any comments or questions can contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 716029.

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