Our Single Minded Focus: 

Billy MacLeod Regional Director



Having a single minded focus is an essential component of any successful Owner Managed Business’ strategy. Over the course of this series, we’ve spoken to leading members of Owner Manager Businesses across Britain, who have shared expert insights on how they master a single minded approach to their business. This week, we sought out our internal expert team and spoke to Billy MacLeod, Regional Director for Scotland and the North of England.


Billy joined AIB (GB) this year, with thirty years’ experience in business banking in Scotland. With a market leading ratio of 1 Relationship Manager to 65 customers, Billy spends a large portion of his day meeting with business organisations across Scotland and Northern England.


Read on for Billy’s insight into how the team help Owner Managed Businesses master a single minded business strategy.



Make Time for Customers:


 “A huge part of what we do is visit customers, spending time in their businesses and getting to know how their business works. Getting this crucial insight into their business allows us to support them in the most appropriate manner. It’s the customer who drives the type of relationship they want with their Relationship Manager, so it’s very much customer led how frequently they would like to see us. A standard statistic I keep in my brain is that 57% of people wouldn’t approach their bank through the hard times, because they just didn’t know who to talk to. But what we’ve done is put a team around about that. Even if their specific relationship manager is not available, there will be someone else available who knows their business.”



Understand the Market:


“We keep ourselves relevant to our customers by understanding the market in Scotland and the North of England. One of the best pieces of research we did was the Owner Managed Outlook Report, where we drilled down to understand the markets in the UK. So for instance, we know that nearly two in five businesses in North England, Scotland and Northern Ireland told us that they expect to increase their headcount in the next year. 63% of the businesses surveyed in the same areas indicated that they expected an increase in sales and revenue over the next year as well, compared to 51% in London. Separately, we know there are circa 3,000 very interesting and investable businesses in the area. We know that the marketplace is driven in specific sectors. Tourism, through Hospitality and leisure, is a very important sector for Scotland, while the oil and gas supply chain is also very important. Transport and manufacturing are more evident in Northern England.


Single-minded business for us means understanding the business and the individual, and how we can support both. Previously, it was acceptable for banks to fund and then review, monitor and control. But I think businesses now want a more relevant and proactive approach. If we have intelligence about our customer’s sector, the challenges they’re overcoming and collaborations that are happening, that is a much more engaging conversation for our customer.”



Identify Growth Areas:


“Engineering in the manufacturing sector is benefiting from a growing economic environment, looking for funding partners and doing relatively well at the moment. There is a very strong food and drink market in Scotland, as a result of agricultural diversification and the whisky trade is also doing very well, being well received across the world economy. Each of these industries require support as they go through the growth curves, so these are important sectors for us, and our relationship focused model helps us to serve them in a better way. “



Listen to feedback:


“The relationship model that AIB (GB) have in place puts listening to customer feedback at the forefront of our strategy. Customer feedback is the cornerstone of what we do.  We investigate very intensely anyone who has taken the time to give us a complaint. We are always asking questions about how banking fits into the wider marketplace and how we can build a business focused strategy. That allows us to maintain a relevance in the marketplace. It’s not nice to have, it’s absolutely essential to have in order to maintain that part of the business ecocycle. “



Add value through expertise:


“Our role in strategy creation is very consultative. It’s not about monitoring and controlling a client’s business, but about understanding how we can add value to a relationship. Our market intelligence allows businesses to ensure their strategy remains relevant to their marketplace. We also ensure our funding solutions are tailored to their business model and the financing model of that business. For example, there is little point in us asking for aggressive debt repayments when the business is expanding through capital expenditure. We seek to understand the businesses we work with and to get to know the individuals and their own personal goals.


It’s perhaps a more traditional form of banking, and it’s a model I believe in. People want to speak to another person and not a distant banking institution. I truly believe that there will always be a place for informed, intelligent and proactive banking in the future. This more personal model is already proving to be very successful, with 50% of new business coming from referrals.”


See how Allied Irish Bank (GB) can help you with any of your Owner Managed Business needs on our home page. Get more insights from our Owner Managed Business experts here.