Delivering a step change

3rd September 2016 |   Mark Hixon

How a productivity programme for a major bank achieved success through the introduction of a behavioural operating model for branch teams and, most importantly, team managers.


The banking group concerned in this study is a diverse retail and commercial bank with 14,760 branches (more than any other international bank), over 193,000 employees and 102 million customers worldwide. Currently the largest bank based within the eurozone (by market capitalisation) and with significant interests also in Latin America, the USA and the UK, the bank has always maintained a prudent lending policy. It was this strict risk management profile that served the bank so well while other international banks suffered during the financial crisis.

In the United Kingdom, the bank has 850 branches, employs 20,000 staff and has around 14 million active customers.

Despite its international status, the bank is still seen as a challenger in the UK. Confronting the historical stranglehold of the “big four” – Barclays, Natwest, Lloyds and HSBC UK – on the retail and business banking sector is a central theme in the bank’s strategic plans. The big four currently hold 77% market share of personal current accounts and 88% of business current accounts in the UK (Reuters, 2014). The UK Government has been keen to increase competition in the UK banking sector for some time (UK Treasury, 2015) and therefore has been looking to challenger banks to relieve the stranglehold that the incumbent players have over the market.

Mark Hixon has spent the past 25 years leading sales and servicing teams across a number of functions within financial services, working with such well-known high-street names as Santander, Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester, Bradford & Bingley, and National & Provincial, as well as insurance company GAN.