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of people think trustworthiness in a bank is important while 53% ranked it very important.

And generally speaking banks aren’t faring too well in the trust stakes. In the latest BrandIndex, which tracks consumer perception of brands’ quality, value, satisfaction, reputation, general impression and recommendation, Santander fell from +8 to -8 on the index score in 2010 and by the end of last year sat at -10. RBS meanwhile recovered from -21 at the start of 2010 to -13 by the end of the year and was

“Research done by YouGov last year showed 92% of people think trustworthiness in a bank is important while 53% ranked it very important”

still lounging there in December 2011. And while Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays fared a little better, HSBC is the only bank with positive numbers. Marketing expert Lloyd is confident though and reveals research done at Virgin which shows consumers are twice as likely to trust a Virgin Money branded product than a Northern Rock product. It is for this reason the lender is scrapping the Rock brand and training up its business development managers in the school of Virgin. “Virgin’s TV advertising campaign is all about bringing Virgin’s 40 year heritage to banking and I think that’s really why people trust it – because of that heritage of doing things better,” he says. “Good brands help consumers make choices. They’re about a set of values and a set of principles. “That’s the opportunity when we bring

Virgin Money and Northern Rock together – to create a different kind of bank, a better bank. One that works for consumers and obviously works for intermediaries.” The real test will be whether the bank can achieve its objective of doubling the number of customers it lends to by 2017.


Much of that will be down to product and service. The proof behind the pudding of Virgin’s brand. Brokers will know that Northern Rock has traditionally delivered on service and has in the past offered competitive products. So in the midst of this rebranding exercise, how exactly does Virgin plan to do things differently and better and keep the trust of intermediaries who have a good experience of the Rock? “The worst thing you can do in a business is rush in and assume you know something you don’t and regret a decision you make,” explains Lloyd. “We’ve only been working together for a few weeks – speaking personally I’ve found a real focus on the intermediary as a customer at Northern Rock and a desire to do things properly. “Those relationships are really

precious and BDMs have been a key part of that relationship - they’ll remain in place to manage our relationships with brokers. We hope we’re bringing together the best of both worlds: the experience and expertise of Northern Rock and consumer focus and innovation of Virgin.” In that vein Virgin has promised not to dual price – one way to win a broker’s loyalty – perhaps down to the experience it as picked up from Northern Rock. Richard Tugwell, head of intermediary sales at Northern Rock and now at Virgin Money, is adamant about the role of the BDM in building the new bank.

“Our BDMs being able visit intermediaries on a regular basis and staying in touch talking about what we’re doing so we can help them build their businesses as we build ours is a key focus for us,” he says. “They’re personifying the brand every day. Service has always been paramount and feedback we get from intermediaries will tell us where that service is good and where we can improve it.”

WHAT BROKERS WANT With so many millions going into the promotion of Virgin Money’s better bank, one would expect an encouraging result

PMS by

John Malone, executive chairman, PMS

As a main mortgage distributor we recognised during 2008 that we could no longer be reliant solely on mortgage business. With that in mind we needed to change our industry profile, which would demonstrate to intermediaries that mortgage business alone would be insufficient to cover the costs and expenditure in running a business. By changing our brand from Premier Mortgage Service to PMS, we were able to demonstrate that our business model was now very much dependent on protection, mortgages and savings. From January 2009 we developed a new range of products to distribute to intermediaries, thus showing them that by a rebrand we could change our position in the marketplace.


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