Neil Filbrook is the Managing Director of Bank Brokers UK, an independent banking consultancy firm, part of Bank Brokers AB, operating across Europe. Bank Brokers work with more than 2,000 companies to improve their overall banking arrangements.
We sat down with Neil recently to better understand how his firm work with so many household name businesses in hospitality.
So, Neil, where did it all begin?
“Son of a Devonshire railway worker and Brummy barmaid, I’ve grown up in a traditional working class family where my brother, sister and I saw the value of ‘getting value for money’ from day 1. Married to the daughter of a general builder and strong Bristolian woman, I’ve remained grounded throughout my life.
“I left school at 16 after a few weeks at a sixth form college in Weston-Super-Mare, before realising I wanted to earn money and pay my own way. I started working for Sun Alliance in Bristol in ‘86, then Commercial Union in ‘89, before moving to Southampton to work for Midland Bank in ‘90. I took various exams and professional qualifications through evening classes along the way and worked my way up in the bank. I ended up running HSBC’s Premier business globally out of Hong Kong, after 3 years’ running operations across Europe from Paris, where I learnt to speak French, (and enjoyed great food and wine).
After running a global business for one of the world’s leading banks, why set up your own business?
“Since leaving HSBC after 24 years and joining Bank Brokers in 2013, I’ve effectively become a ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’. My stints overseas in Europe and Asia helped hone my skills and made me understand what world class banking really can look like in a competitive environment.
“I now use that experience to work exclusively on behalf of our clients. It’s refreshing to be on this side of the fence and it’s never been more important than now for companies to get fair market value from their banks, given the margin compression caused by competition and increasing overheads.
Why is hospitality a focus for Bank Brokers?
“The hospitality sector in general is one of our most important verticals and represents a significant portion of our last 2,000 projects globally.
“Since launching in Sweden in 2008, Bank Brokers group has seen many banks seeking to grow their profits from high merchant services fees, rich bank charges, bloated fx margins and low deposit interest rates. Banks are increasingly seeking safe havens to lend to, meaning that overly-cautious Risk departments and Compliance teams seem to rule the roost. At times when clients really need a friendly bank the most, banks are often pulling up the drawbridge: “computer says no”!
“Bank Brokers’ pan-European team uses its collective expertise and vast benchmarking data, to help companies across the world to reduce their bank-related costs, increase their revenue from improved deposit interest rates and optimise their overall banking relationships. Most providers are playing ball and delivering better value for money, when presented with our benchmarking data, which means no need to change provider, but simply ‘stay and save’. But roughly 1 in 10 banks do still dig their heels in and in these instances, we simply introduce the client to a plethora of potential better banking partners who are willing to say ‘yes’. Our independence means we only ever seek what’s best for our clients.
“Personally, as I am on the cusp of turning 50, still married to my beautiful Bristolian wife and helping my children to understand the value of money, the need to save and to make careful financial decisions toward creating a better life for our future grandchildren.
“The hospitality industry is particularly close to my heart for a number of reasons, not least the opportunity to see how reducing costs has enabled so many of our clients to focus on what they do best, provide hospitality.
“What we do, and how we do it, and the results experienced by our clients is explained in the video below by David Chattwell, Managing Director one of our clients SOP International, who are one of Europe’s leading providers of Asian and oriental food products. We have many such video testimonials.
“The Guinness Storehouse is another of our clients, and Managing Director, Paul Carty has set out below not only the financial benefits of working with Bank Brokers, but also internal resource and time saving benefits.”
Here’s what Paul Carty said of working with us: “Located in the heart of the St. James’s Gate Brewery, the Guinness Storehouse® is Ireland’s number 1 visitor attraction with over 1.7m visitors per annum and we are a proud part of Diageo PLC. We had commenced some work on our merchant acquiring, particularly in respect of industry compliance. Once this was complete, Bank Brokers agreed to undertake a review of the charging structures in place with our acquirer.
“Their feedback subsequently led to a change in the way in which we were being charged, significantly improving transparency and with cost savings feeding through. In the final round of renegotiation, we asked Bank Brokers to undertake a check of the terms we had been offered, against our peers in the market. This evidenced significant scope for incremental margin reduction which was successfully leveraged in full.
“In engaging Bank Brokers, Guinness Storehouse has avoided costly internal time and effort and significant work associated with a market retender. We are most grateful to Bank Brokers for their knowledge, experience and ability to deliver.”
H&C News would like to thank Neil Fillbrook for his time with us explaining the Bank Brokers proposition. We look forward to reporting on the future growth of Bank Brokers and the results gained for their hospitality clients.
If you would like to make contact with Neil and Bank Brokers, full contact details are here.