ENVESTORS magazine preview

‘The public has rarely been more cynical about big business; trust is at an all time low.  Strong and demonstrable ethical behaviour is critical to win back and retain trust among customers and investors’.  Sir Win Bischoff, Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council

In a recent survey, 89% of the great British public said that they hold our armed forces in high regard, associating them with discipline, transparency and trust.  But returning to Civvy Street can prove to be a daunting experience: PTSD notwithstanding, it is well documented that many service personnel struggle to cope with life outside the relative ‘safety’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one, considering this could include deployment in Afghanistan) and structure within the strict confines of service life.  A case in point is how ill prepared they are to access and use 21st century banking and insurance systems.  Prior to the Financial Services Act of 1986, the Ministry of Defence had a duty of care to advise the armed forces in all things money; the FSA changed this and quite simply nothing was created to replace it.  

Air Commodore Mike Jenkins and Brigadier Tom O’Brien are well aware of this.  Both ex-alumnae of the Royal College of Defence Studies, Mike served in the Air Force for 33 years as a pilot and later held leadership positions in regulation, development, internal audit, training, logistics and transformational change.  Tom has designed and built some of the most complex technology and business solutions in pharmaceuticals, banking, insurance and telecommunications for – among others – Deloitte, Kwikfit Insurance and Vertex.  Oh, and somehow, he also managed to fit in 40 years as an Army reservist.  

‘I lived in the banking commuter belt’ explains Mike.  ‘Through the recession and various high-profile banking scandals, I realised that the general, British consensus is that big financial institutions are held in low regard and, in particular, do not treat customers as well as they did.  We wanted to challenge this perception using the values and ideals inherently learnt in the forces:  we decided to build a financial services business that lives the values of our servicemen and women and provides quick and easy access to insurance and consumer loans, while employing all the policies expected of a regulated bank.  THE SERVICES FAMILY LTD will provide disclosure on our fee structure, tax and pay-scales, we will build a reputation for trust, responsiveness and integrity and will strive to become the UK’s most responsible and reliable financial services company. Tom’s business and technology expertise makes him an ideal Chief Technology Officer and my experience in operations, risk and strategy will enable us to build the organisational aspects and risk analytics underpinning the company and deliver the best possible customer experience.

Because our business model is simple and quite literally started from scratch, we are able to adopt the smartest technology and provide a resilient, digital platform to offer a unique experience.   This technology approach allows us to look at our customers and make a better assessment of their way of life or circumstances and allows predictive ‘futures’ when considering their insurance or credit risk; the platform will better use behavioural analytics to reduce asset pricing dependencies and therefore produce a better quote or insurance premium.  This will particularly benefit those who have devoted themselves to public service, such as the armed forces, but who have limited experience in the ‘smartphone’ finance world and need help to find the right financial products, jobs and find small business support.  Serving one’s country, or indeed working in an international business, inevitably creates a ‘mobile’ lifestyle; it’s clear that many banks, mortgage providers and insurance brokers are wary of their – by default – chequered credit history and consider service personnel to be high risk despite Reference Agency evidence to the contrary. THE SERVICES FAMILY, however, will capture the experience of military personnel in order to deliver excellent service and customer benefit, thus providing services and products to support the Armed Forces’ way of life and all those members of the extended ‘Services Family’: over 5m veterans, blue-light services and public servants and their families.  We are committed to social responsibility and intend to have a minimum of 30% of our staff made up of ex-military personnel or their families.  Ultimately, we don’t want to just sell better, we want to provide better insurance and lending, better’. We’ll trade as equals® exploiting digital engagement - think Private Financial Services for the Private!

THE SERVICES FAMILY have a pre-money valuation of £3.03m and are now seeking funding of between £250,000 and £1m (with £190,000 already raised and in the bank).  They will use the funds for working capital for the insurance broking part of the business and will also develop and employ the Risk management platform to support THE SERVICES FAMILY and commercialise it for other UK SME businesses.  
With their exceptional management team’s combined experience of the armed forces, technology and business and a corporate responsibility ethos second to none, I truly believe the battle to bring back ethical banking will be an easy one to win.



This post was created on June 7 2018 by Victoria Maby