Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds are next in the sights of Metro Bank as it continues to grow its stores footprint.
By 2020, Metro Bank will reach out to the north of England, augmenting its branch expansion this year to Bristol and Cardiff in the West and Birmingham in the midlands.
Metro Bank ended 2017 with 55 stores and will open another 12 this year; by 2020 it aims to operate 100 stores with a network in the range of 140-160 targeted by 2023.
It sounds ambitious but founder and chairman Vernon Hill tells RBI: “The 2023 targets are realistic; we will do it. We already know where the next 20 to 30 stores are going.”
Hill is happy with the results for fiscal 2017 just posted by Metro Bank and with good reason.
In one sense it is more of the same: deposit growth per store per month hit £6.3m in 2017 helping Metro to report record year-on-year deposit growth of 47% to £11.7bn.
For more than 10 years, Hill has been telling the writer from his days at Commerce Bank in the US to the establishment of Metro in the UK: grow your non-interest bearing accounts, get core deposit growth at a low cost of money and create fans.
On the first point, Hill does not disguise delight at Metro Bank reporting non-interest bearing growth of 61% year-on-year, now accounting for 32% of all deposits.
On the point of fans: more positive numbers. Metro Bank ended 2017 with more than 1.2 million customer accounts, up 33%; brand recognition in the London area soared to 89% with a net promoter score of 82%. On the last two Hill adds: “these numbers are monumentally high and I would never have seen such figures in the US. Even outside London, we have 48% brand recognition-all this with virtually no ad spend.”
But in another sense, there is a quiet but marked change taking place as Metro Bank matures.
The Metro Bank lending book is currently roughly two third residential lending and one third commercial. That ratio of retail to commercial lending in time will flip.
“I have said from day one that the other UK banks treat their commercial customers worse than they do their retail customers: I see it all day every day.”
“It takes time to build on the commercial side but we will get there and as we get bigger we can handle bigger commercial relationships – so in that regard we become a somewhat different bank.”
Metro Bank 2023 targets, in brief:
- Deposits £50-£55bn;
- Deposits growth per store per month: £5.5bn-£6.5bn;
- Loan to deposit ratio: 85-90%
- Customer net interest margin+fees: circa 3%
- Cost income ratio: 56-58%
- Cost of risk: 0.15-0.30%
- RoE: 17-19%
One other change in emphasis is notable: Hill increasingly flags up Metro Bank’s digital credentials and in particular the bank’s latest app and its launch of digital account opening.
“The future is uniting bricks and mortar and online and mobile for a great unified experience. The customer wants the best of every channel and it is the way we unite them that will make it work.”
While it is early days, he is upbeat about selfie-account opening.
“It is really cute, really clever and it is working.”
Expect some guidance on actual new accounts opened via the digital onboarding process when first quarter results for fiscal 2018 are released.