Metro Bank – the community-focused retail bank that puts more of an emphasis on customer service – has grown fast since it opened its doors in 2010, and is creating hundreds of new jobs every year.
“Three years ago, we had 12 people,” says Donaldson. “Today, we have 700 staff, and will hit 1,000 this year. We’re also looking to expand the number of stores we have from 16 to 28 by the end of the year, and 200 by 2020.”
As other banks slash jobs in their retail arms, Metro Bank is creating new opportunities within the sector. So what does Donaldson look for when bringing in new talent?
“I hire for attitude and train for skills,” he says. “People with the right intellect, the right interpersonal skills, who work hard – they’re the people who will always do well in the City.” The bank looks beyond its competitors for hiring opportunities; it also looks to bring in people from the services and retail sectors.
Donaldson career began on the Barclays graduate scheme in 1995. He then built up experience in stores, call-centres and commercial and retail arms. He later moved to the Royal Bank of Scotland, and it was during his time here as managing director of UK retail products that he met Vernon Hill – the founder of US-based Commerce Bank. Donaldson had been tasked to find out what made Commerce Bank successful in the US, but was persuaded by Hill to instead set up a similar business in the UK.
Taking a risk
Taking the entrepreneurial route was a brave move – particularly as the Financial Services Authority had not granted a licence to a new high street bank since the late nineteenth century. So why did he take the risk? “I was of the view that banking could be done better,” says Donaldson. “I believed in the model, and wanted to be proud of what I do for a living.”
Given the benefit of hindsight over a long City career, what does he know now that he would like to have known 10 years ago? “That it’s not all hard work and it can be very rewarding. I genuinely enjoy what I do now.Creating careers and new opportunities for job-seekers is beneficial for them, but also provides value for our business.”
Donaldson has spent his entire career in finance. But what would he have done if this wasn’t an option? “I would like to have been the England fly half on Saturday (February 23) against France. Perhaps if Sunderland FC had also won that day, I would have said centre forward for them.” So he’s a talented sportsman too? “I wouldn’t say that – I play with more enthusiasm than skill!”