Business English Podcast 2: The new banks

by Lynch A.K.A 'The Regulator' on August 5, 2012

Hi, welcome to class 2 of ingocio – the audio course that teaches you both business English as well as the latest trends in companies and organisations around the world. Today we’re going to do a listening exercise on four banks that have been created since the financial crisis destroyed people’s trust in the traditional banking giants. But first, let’s do a quick vocabulary focus on some of the key business English terms that are used in the audio.

Metro bank is a new bank that has started in the Greater Londod Area. Their emphasis is on excellent customer service which includes much longer opening hours – 8 til 5 and open on Sundays, and new customers can have their credit card made on the spot.

Listening and Reading – The Accounting Oligopoly
(Adapted from BBC Peter Day’s World of Business 2012)

With public mistrust, and some would say – disgust – at the banking system so prevalent, I decided to investigate some alternatives in this week’s Business English podcast. I’ll be looking at a number of new banks who are trying to capitalise on the public’s lack of confidence, and win new customers.

The first of these is called Metro bank which was founded and established in the Greater London Area in 2010. The first new , high street bank for 150 years. Their emphasis is on excellent customer service which includes much longer opening hours than traditional banks – 8AM til 5PM and open on Sundays. Also, new customers can have their credit card made on the spot – literally there is a machine in each branch for this purpose.


The next bank is actually very well known in its native Scandanavia, Handelsbanken, but is completely new to the UK. What’s interesting for us, though, in this podcast, is that its expansion is due to exactly what we were talking about in the introduction: lack of confidence in the traditional banks. Handelsbanken is run along very different principles to its competitors. For example, each branch has total autonomy to lend or not to lend, based on personal evaluation and knowledge of each customer. The customer relationship is highly valued and there is no risk assessment done by computer. This is radicle in the world of contemporary banking where employees and bank managers have very little choice – everything is decided y computer algorithms designed by central office.

Our third choice we hear about in this business English audio, is Aldamores which has been created to remedy the biggest complaint against banks at the moment: they don’t lend enough to small and medium sized businesses. Aldamores – which specialises in small to medium business claims that modern banks don’t understand their clients and have carved out a lucrative niche in specialist services to specific businesses such as road haulage companies.

Finally, I would like to tell you about Zopa. Zopa is a new lending service which was chosen by a leading financial services magazine called Moneywise as its most trusted personal loans provider for two consecutive years. Zopa gives loans based on what is known as peer to peer lending which means that ordinary citizens with extra money, lend it to ordinary citizens who need money. Zopa acts as both the intermediary and the company responsible for underwriting the debt.

So, that is my summary of the new banking scene in the UK. 4 innovative organisations. However, as I discovered in Peter Day’s BBC podcast on the topic, there is a great paradox at work in the market at the moment. Although the public don’t trust the banks at all, they are sticking with the major high street banks and are not very enthusiastic on moving to the newer banks. Why? In times of insecurity people prefer to stick with banks like Santander and Lloyds where they perceive their money is safe.

In the end, though, it might be irrelevant. The big competitor for both new and old banks is not each other but the increasing trend of large companies starting up their own financial services division. Almost all major supermarkets provide their own credit card but analysts say that this trend will go further and big companies like Apple and Carrefour who are holding large reserves of capital and are treated by consumers might well start fully fledged banks in the future.

Thank you for listening to this Business English ESL listening exercise… goodbye.

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