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ong-term readers may remem- ber an interview in the Octo- ber 2010 issue with Vernon W Hill II, Chairman of Metro Bank. At the time the serial entrepreneur (he started New Jersey-based Com- merce Bancorp among many other ventures) was launching a US-style service-based bank onto the Brit- ish high street - something many said would not work over here. Five and a half years later we checked in with Mr Hill and found that the nay- sayers were wrong. “When we talked before, the


L


world was skeptical whether this would work,” Hill says. “Each time you start something new you wonder if this is the place it won’t work, but it’s been great.” Planning for Metro started just


after the worst financial crash for a century. Was it a bad time to start a new bank? Far from it, says Hill. “It was actually a very good time. A lot of disarray in the market, the incum- bents were distracted, a lot of mis- pricing and was swept out of the market and we could make loans in a revised credit environment.” Metro Bank doesn’t sell PPI, the mis-selling scandal of recent years in the UK. “No! I didn’t even know what PPI was ‘til I came here,” Hill laughs. Although the British public can


be resistant to change (the UK pub- lic has a notoriously low switch rate for banks, even while complaining about the service they receive) Metro Bank’s business has been good. “We’ve got 720,000 deposit


accounts and about £6bn in assets. We floated on the London Stock Exchange [trading as MTRO] in March and our market value is around £1.6bn. We’ve raised £1bn in capital over the years, 95 percent of which is American, which says to me that Americans are much more inclined to


22 The American


I AMERICANS


invest for growth than the Brits seem to be. We’re running pretty much the American model, and everything we did in Manhattan works better here. We’re growing roughly 100 percent a year compounded and no-one’s ever grown a bank in the Western world at these rates.” Many Brits have opened accounts


with Metro, but it’s a more vital choice for US citizens. Since the bank opened its first store (they prefer not to call them branches) in Holborn, London, the banking situation for American expats in the UK has got- ten worse. The introduction of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) by the Federal govern- ment among other measures has led


to many foreign banks refusing to offer accounts to expats. Conversely, Metro positively encourages Ameri- can individuals and American com- mercial operations. “We love to open accounts for


Americans that are here, or are mov- ing here. We’re basically the only bank that opens accounts for them. “We’ve just opened our 41st store


on the King’s Road in Chelsea. We’re in Greater London, but our view of that area is different from most people. We go from Brighton in the south, to Reading in the west, to Cambridge in the north, to Southend in the east. It’s a ‘wider Greater London area’. People can open accounts with us outside that area of course, but they have to


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