Banking veterans flock to start-up bank Monument

Banking veterans flock to start-up bank Monument

Niall Booker

Niall Booker, the former chief executive of the Co-operative Bank, has become chairman the of start-up bank Monument - a new digital lender striving to shake up the market for wealthy customers who has attracted a string of banking veterans to its leadership ranks. 

Mr Booker also held senior roles at HSBC during his 30-year career at the lender. He joins several other banking veterans at the firm, which has applied for a banking licence and aims to attract some of the 3.5 million people it believes have the funds to use its services.

Monument intends to lend up to £2m to customers through an internet-only app, which it believes it can utilise because of its superior technology for credit checking.

Lenders such as Coutts, C Hoare & Co, Hampden & Co and Weatherbys have had the monopoly on banking for high-earners for a long time. High street banks also offer accounts for wealthy customers, but for years, have faced complaints about the low-quality of their services.

Mintoo Bhandari, a former managing director at private equity house Apollo Global Management who has joined Monument, said that the lender would aim to fill the gap in the wealthy banking market, using lower costs of digital technologies and an absence of legacy systems. Mr Bhandari said: “We think premier banking does not really exist in the UK today. It is not premier in any genuine sense of service.”

Monument’s services are aimed at customers with assets of between £250,000 and £5m, in addition to their properties. The lender will target doctors, lawyers, accountants and various other business people, The Times reports. 

Monument customers will be able to open an account with a minimum of £25,000, compared with £50,000 for other premier banking accounts. However, the lender will not offer a current account, but use open banking technology to link its savings and loans offering to its customers’ existing accounts.

Mr Bhandari has said the explosion of fintech firms in the last ten years has left a significant gap in the market for a digital bank for the wealthy.

The start-up is at an advanced stage of the licence process with City of London regulators and has an aim to be fully operational within six months. Monument’s launch comes as both the Wirecard scandal and the coronavirus outbreak has shaken up the fintech world.

Mr Bhandari said that COVID-19 has underlined the need for secure digital banking. He added: “Before, we thought 90% of transactions would be digital and 10% face-to-face. Now we think 98 to 99% will be digital.”

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