SCOTLAND’S newest bank has bolstered its senior team as it prepares to launch.

Alba Bank, which is now in its mobilisation phase and aims to begin trading before the end of the year, has appointed banking sector veterans to two key positions.

Robert Sharpe brings more than 45 years of retail banking experience to the role of chairman of the challenger bank. He is currently chairman of Metro Bank, Hampshire Trust Bank and Pollen Street.

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Andrew Lewis, who joins Alba as chief risk officer, has more than 25 years’ experience in financial services. Mr Lewis joins from Aldermore Bank, where was chief risk officer for three years, with his career having also included more than 20 years with NatWest Group, owner of Royal Bank of Scotland, in a range of senior business and risk roles.

Alba’s story goes back to go back to 2017 when the historic Airdrie Savings Bank, led by chief executive Rod Ashley, began to be wound down, after battling to meet the cost of complying with modern banking regulations.

The senior team at Airdrie, led by Mr Ashley, moved across to Alba, after founder Jim McColl spotted an opportunity to set up a bank dedicated to supporting small and medium-sizes enterprises.

Alba is currently in the mobilisation phase after securing its licence from the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority, which essentially means it is building its team, operations, and infrastructure in preparation for opening its doors.

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Mr Ashley said: "With the addition of Robert and Andy to our leadership team, Alba has reached another crucial milestone in our journey towards launch. We’ve now got a team with the right experience and values to deliver a new challenger bank aimed at supporting SMEs to achieve their true potential.

"Robert and Andy bring considerable experience of running successful retail banks, at big institutions and smaller challenger banks. Their insight into the challenges and opportunities of creating a bank committed to serving SMEs will be invaluable as we accelerate plans for launch.”

Mr Sharpe said: “I’m looking forward to using my experience of building successful challenger banks to helping Alba achieve its vision and strategy. Alba is now well-set for the next stage of its journey, with a strong board, an experienced executive team and supportive shareholders. The bank is well capitalised and fully focused on building a modern, customer-centric, efficient organisation which can successfully take on the competition. I am very excited to be part of this new venture.”

Mr Lewis said: “I’ve spent a lot of my career working with the SME sector which has been consistently failed by the big banks. There are many reasons for that failure, but we see a real opportunity for Alba to champion this key part of the UK economy as a specialist lender. I’m delighted to be part of it.

“As CRO I’ll be focused on helping mobilise a safe, scalable and sustainable bank, ensuring that we have the full confidence and backing of our key stakeholders, and offering compelling SME lending and online savings propositions to our customers”.