Metro Bank joined Chambers Wales as a Corporate Partner in July 2020. John Lloyd Jones, Local Director of Metro Bank, Cardiff Newport Road looks back at their first year in the Welsh capital and how they have adapted and helped support the community through the challenges brought by the pandemic.
2020 has been like nothing that we’ve ever seen before and at Metro Bank, like everywhere else, we’ve had to adapt this year.
In January, we opened the doors to our very first store in Wales, located on Queen Street, in Cardiff City Centre. Like all Metro Bank stores, we celebrate the local community and culture of the people we serve and on the opening weekend of the store we began with celebrating St Dwynwen’s Day, embracing Welsh culture. The store signs can be seen in both Welsh and English and our colleagues were encouraged to take up learning the Welsh language if they didn’t speak it already.
We received a warm welcome from the people of Cardiff, and were delighted to join Chambers Wales, connecting with hundreds of local businesses across Wales.
In March, when the pandemic hit we knew that as a community bank we must continue to focus on supporting our customers and serving our city. Our colleagues in Cardiff went above and beyond to support local causes, with the team volunteering with Age Cymru to call vulnerable people who were shielding just to see how they were doing, with the team handing more than 3,500 calls in total. Our colleagues also delivered documents and chequebooks to those customers unable to visit the store.
Every year we give each of our colleagues a Day to AMAZE, a day when they’d ordinarily be working, to use for volunteering within their local community. We extended this initiative to five days volunteering so colleagues could support local areas during the pandemic, when we knew they needed support more than ever.
In a year where other high street banks have closed branches and significantly reduced their opening hours, we have continued to keep our stores open, with most now back to seven days a week opening. We’ve also opened two new stores during the lockdown, one of them being our Cardiff Newport Road store. The store is Wales’ first drive-thru bank, allowing customers to access cashier services from the comfort and safety of their cars, completely contact-free.
The colleagues at our newest store made every effort to support our community too, fundraising for local food banks to aid vulnerable families at this challenging time and creating a donation point in the store where the team has donated a range of items from toiletries and everyday essentials to sweets, chocolate and household items.
We understand it’s been and will continue to be a particularly difficult time for our customers so we’ve worked together on an individual basis to find a solution that best meets their financial needs and have introduced various actions to support both individual and business customers.
The support we have provided to our customers this year has included:
- helping shielding customers to access cash safely and set up dedicated times for vulnerable customers to call our contact centre;
- temporarily waiving overdraft fees and offering payment holidays for customers impacted financially by the pandemic;
- offering capital repayment deferrals, interest roll-ups and covenant waivers for business customers even before government support measures were introduced. We also temporarily waived arrangement fees and limit amendment fees on business overdrafts;
- delivering business finance via CBILS, CLBILS and BBLS, with over £1.4bn of finance delivered via the schemes to more than 34,000 customers as of December 2020; and
- working with businesses to understand their needs going forward. Our network of Local Business Managers and Commercial Relationship Managers provide guidance on essential topics such as business cashflow management and host online business networking events.
Despite the circumstances, some things haven’t and won’t change – our commitment to our customers here in Cardiff remains more important than ever, and we are proud to have supported the local community in our first year in Wales and will continue to, always.