Metro man banks on winning battle of the High Street

That's what he calls service: goodie bags for lunch guests at Shendish Manor
That's what he calls service: goodie bags for lunch guests at Shendish Manor

It takes a brave banker to get up in front of an audience of hard-pressed local business people – but Vernon Hill loves a challenge.

And when the joint founder and chairman of Metro Bank addressed the annual Christmas celebration lunch hosted by Connect Dacorum and the Dacorum Community Trust at Shendish Manor, he soon had the assembled movers and shakers on his side.

Vernon Hill

Vernon Hill

Mr Hill, who built Commerce Bank in the USA from a one-branch outfit to a $50 billion business with 15,000 staff, was frank about how he was going to repeat the trick in the UK.

He’s already started in Hemel Hempstead, with a glitzy Metro Bank in Marlowes working hard to win business.

But he believes that his team are pushing at an open door – because UK banks just don’t understand service, and never have.

There were murmurs of approval as he condemned organisations that take their customers for granted.

He praised the community work of groups like the Dacorum Credit Union, and expressed shock at the rates of interest charged by payday loan firms – but stressed that people should be able to make an informed choice about how to manage their finances.

But his focus was on building business, gathering enthusistic fans the way top brands Apple and John Lewis do, saying: “When a company and a consumer have that sort of bond, all sorts of good things happen.”

The annual lunch, the main fundraiser of the year for the Dacorum Community Trust, was sponsored by Dacorum Borough Council, SA Law LLP, Shendish Manor, West Herts College, NGK Spark Plugs, BP, Hillier Hopkins and B&M Care Homes. Kris Gruber Photography and Smile Events Ltd provided sound and image support.

Certificates of appreciation were presented to companies which support the two organisations: Shendish Manor; Metro Bank; Dacorum Borough Council; Caritars; Kodak Ltd; Herts Chamber of Commerce; Affinity Water; Watford Football Trust; Hemel Hempstead Rotary Club; S A Law; Hillier Hopkins; NGK Spark Plugs; RES Group; West Herts College; BP; B&M Care; FFEI; Georgina’s Science; Furnell Transport; Maurice Phillips Partnership; Kris Gruber Photography; EIC Insurance; Maddison Business Systems; E K Procure; Eckoh UK; Pendley Manor Hotel; Hemel Stags; Aubrey Park Hotel; Business Buzz; The Snow Centre; Ruth George HR Consulting; Fresh Design & Print Ltd; Santander Bank; Pictons Solicitors; Sasori Karate Dojo; Ten 2 Two; Hemel Cartridges; Equilibrium Holistic Health; Sumner & Tabor; The Gazette; Abode Bed & Continental; Vantage IT; Friends of Vivo D’Arte; Sheng Nuo Ltd; Kip McGrath Education Centre; ECO Service UK.

Also receiving certificates are DSG International; Crispin Rhodes; Blue Shield Fire Protection; The Professionalism Group; Riverside Shopping Centre; Noble Solicitors; Lloyds TSB Commercial; Splash Resolution Consulting; HMP The Mount; John Grimes Yoga; SWR Ltd; Taylors Letting; Storax Racking Supplies Ltd; The Stationery Company; Work Solutions; Astley Cooper School; KM Design; Kingston Smith; Aitchison Raffety Group; Longdean School; Adeyfield School; ABC; The Healthy Working Partnership; MGI Technologies; Holiday Inn Hemel Hempstead; Cobham Consulting; Kings Langley School; Handlesbanken Bank; Bobsleigh Hotel; Parker Hannifin; Journey Therapy; Haven Holidays; Alpine Press; EPOSability; Martin Brower UK; Serene Beauty & Spa, Roar Accounting; Bull Information Systems; J.F.Dyson Associates; Waste King; Andrews Computer Services; Diverse HR Solutions; U-Print; Dee TV; Mang Creative; Mansell & Wells; M2 Chartered Accountants; Lorica Insurance Brokers; AFCC; Berhamsted Local Directory; Baker Tilly; University of Hertfordshire; Industrial Floorcare Machines; My Mustard; Hemel Hempstead School; Wilkins Kennedy; Cavendish School; Britvic.