As we close the 1st year of Trusted Novus Bank, we’d like to take a minute to reflect on how the year has been. We sat down with Christian Bjørløw, CEO of Trusted Novus Bank, to discuss how he views the last 12 months, the lessons learnt, and any changes made on the back of that. By the end of the interview, we can determine what the future of Trusted Novus Bank looks like.
Well, if I had to explain the last year in a few words, it would be “full of learning curves, like a rollercoaster”. There have been ups and downs, but we have learned from both. As we move away from being part of a group and becoming an independent bank, we also come to the realisation that it will bring many challenges, albeit good ones.
One of the positive changes is that all decisions are made in-house, which gives us a lot of control on how we want to run the business and give the best service to our clients. This is extremely important to us but at the same time challenging, as we no longer have the support from Jyske Bank in Denmark.
In the last year we have created new teams and departments which have helped us shape new processes, but also the new brand identity for Trusted Novus Bank. This is helping us move away from the perception that we are only a private bank and toward a new perception as your local bank. To help achieve this, we have taken a more aggressive and bold marketing approach than we were used to and want to be known for going forward.
However, 2020 for us as an organisation will be one for the records and known as the year for resilience, agility, and a fresh new identity for the bank.
Covid-19 has taught us a lot of things, but most importantly that change is inevitable. We are working very closely with our HR team to understand how the last year was for our employees managing their work-life balance from home and now returning back to the workplace.
We want to learn from this experience and be able to navigate a positive and new way of working. The idea is to help our employees be more efficient and build a healthy, structured, and flexible workforce which suits everyone.
We asked some of our employees how their experience during this time was, and here are some of the comments we received.
Caroline Fernandez, Head of Data Management said “From a team perspective, working from home was a difficult experience as Data Management is very paper based. A change to electronic forms and documents, as well as less physical paper would greatly improve the experience for colleagues and clients all-round. Communication, co-operation, and organisation was the key for Data Management during these tough times. From a personal experience, being a mother of four and a full-time employee, having to work from home was very challenging, especially when the schools were closed. Having to juggle my job and help my children with their on-line schoolwork was very hard, but I always felt supported by my Manager, who gave me the flexibility to be able to cope during this demanding time. “
Kasper Thy Jessen, Head of Corporate Banking said: “Working primarily from home during Covid presented many different challenges. Having two young children and a wife who is a teacher, meant that I needed my working hours to be more flexible. Thankfully, the Bank gave me this flexibility to manage both working and family life. However, working from home meant it became difficult to differentiate working hours from non-working hours. To add to this, during Christmas, I found myself ‘stuck’ in Denmark for 6 weeks as I caught Covid. The flexibility the bank afford me, meant I could continue to work while being away from Gibraltar. This was helpful for both myself and the bank. Nevertheless, I am grateful to be working face to with face with our colleagues again.”
I want to make sure our workforce is nimble and prepared for any similar challenges we may face again in the future.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to show my gratitude towards the GHA and the government of Gibraltar on running the vaccine program. It was managed seamlessly and with the upmost efficiency ensuring that most of the population was vaccinated at a spectacular speed.
I’m sure when I say this I’m not alone, but we could not have been able to go back to some form of normality if it wasn’t for the brilliant staff at the GHA and their well-executed vaccine program.
Although we have a new identity as a bank, we remain as a value-based organisation. Our clients know this, and for this reason have also remained loyal to us, even through the changes and challenges.
Our clients are confident in setting-up a banking relationship with us, which perhaps was not the case two years ago due to the uncertainly of the future of the bank.
Our Relationship managers have also seen more willingness in clients to diversify their investments and take advantage of new opportunities. This gives us the confidence that even with the uncertainty within the financial markets, our clients remain assured.
Our strategy is to continue to have a strong presence in Gibraltar, not just as a local bank but also as an integral part of the community. We are actively working with local charities and organisations to help young adults to build skills to enter further education, internships and employment opportunities. This is just the beginning; we are looking to increase our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in the coming years to make sure we are constantly giving back to the community in a meaningful manner.
In respect to our business, it’s evident the world of Banking has significantly changed and is reinventing itself. There has been a of lot of volatility in the financial markets in the last year and we expect this for the foreseeable future. Previously, we were able to generate a margin profit from deposits, which is no longer the case, and this is true for all banks. Saying this, we are working towards adapting to the new way of Banking and modernising the way we work, starting with our internal systems.
To conclude, we need to understand that change is inevitable, and we need to be agile as people and as an organisation to embrace the changes ahead of us.
Yes, we are a different bank, not being part of a group as a small subsidiary will allow us to grow and live up to our ethos which is to be out of the ordinary. This is extremely important for our employees and myself.
I know when we announced about our transition to become Trusted Novus Bank, we said “We have changed name, but we are still the same”. Today on our 1st Birthday I would like to rephrase this to: “We are the same, but we are also different”.