“Each of the businesses is very specialist. Cater Allen is primarily a deposit-taker, so we offer seven or eight core products that are all about holding cash which at the moment is very prevalent.”
Sipp and wrap provider James Hay also operates in a specialist arena but has been forced to look at new markets as its traditional business changes. “Primarily, nearly three-quarters of James Hay’s business was about promoting its own products through other firms, so it was actually a third-party provider. Since Sipp regulation, those firms have been doing the administration themselves, so we need to grow a distribution channel for James Hay. That is what we are focusing on.”
The third part of the jigsaw is Abbey Sharedealing but Dunn says that is not the immediate priority . “That is something we want to include in the future proposition but at the moment it is not the primary focus.”
Dunn stresses that the group is not rushing into the merger. “I do not want to overplay Santander Private Banking in the UK, we are still at the beginning of that journey. My role as commercial director of those businesses is to pull them together, get it rationalised, get it ready for growth and really start a rapport in terms of building a distribution channel with IFAs and intermediaries.
“The IFAs and intermediaries will be our distribution channel. We will look to share our incomes with the IFAs and they will be our partners. There is no intention to go into the direct arena.”
Dunn has a wide variety of experience of the banking industry. “When I was at the point of going to university, I was hospitalised in a serious road accident, so I spent a long time in hospital recovering from that and as a result I did not go to university.”
He points out that this was in the days of Margaret Thatcher when there were three million unemployed and going to university was a riskier decision than it seems now. “Rather than take unemployment, I joined NatWest in 1983 and worked in a branch that is now a pizza store. Then I took what I thought was a very exciting opportunity to join Flemings. Fleming Premier Banking had just launched, so I was there right at the outset.”
Getting involved from the beginning helped Dunn experience the full range of jobs required to run the company. “I went through all the various roles as the bank expanded from 12 people to a much bigger operation, eventually ending with a couple of hundred people. In that time, my roles ranged from standing orders clerk, processing new business, starting to manage running a client team and visiting solicitors and stockbrokers who ran designated client accounts. That was my first introduction to IFAs and intermediaries.”
Dunn spent the next three years on the road, building relationships with IFAs and “understanding what interests them in banking terms”.
In 2001, Abbey acquired Fleming Premier Banking, having already bought Cater Allen. “Then Santander came along and a decision was taken at the time that those businesses would report into the same structure, as providers of wealth management and product offerings. Then the decision was made to formally bring together Cater Allen, James Hay and Abbey Sharedealing as three composite parts to form the platform of what will become Santander Private Banking UK.”
Dunn says he wants to see branches selling products directly to IFAs. “The one piece that is sometimes missing from the financial services world is the tangibility. If you run a shop, you see your customers come in and watch them as they part with their cash for your goods and you see them hopefully go out with a smile on their face. In the financial world, it is all done centrally and you do not see the clients. That is what drives my ideas of the branches. I want to see clients and I want to see IFAs actually come in and use our services on a more regular basis.
“I think we will probably look to spend at least another 18 months evolving what we have now and somewhere around 2010 start to look at these branches with full branding.”
The initial focus, aside from building relationships with intermediaries, is to encourage IFAs who already use James Hay to use the Abbey Sharedealing funds. “There is around £1.2bn that sits in that investment centre. I would like to see that push through the £2bn mark before the end of the year.”
Dunn believes in gathering other people’s experience to help with decision-making and aims to be out of the office meeting IFAs at least one to two days a week.
“The message from my point of view is that Cater Allen, as a deposit-taker, is still there as a deposit-taker. James Hay, as a provider of Sipps, is here now to provide Sipps rather than just be an administrator. I want to see Santander Private Banking become one of the top private banks in the UK. We will drive like mad to see it through.”
Born: Chelmsford, Essex, 1965
Education: Moulsham High School, Essex
Career: 2007-present – UK commercial director, Santander Private Banking; 2003-07 – managing director, Cater Allen Private Bank; 2001-03 – chief operating officer, Cater Allen Private Bank; 1984-2001 – a number of roles at Fleming Financial Services including 1999-2001 – client services director, 1997-99 – unit trust manager, 1992-97 – banking new business and client account manager, 1991-92 – banking sales manager, 1988-91 – credit card correspondence supervisor, 1984-88 – general duties
Likes: Golf (handicap of seven), photography, painting, cars, travelling
Dislikes: Heights, flying
Drives: Range Rover Sport, Mini Cooper (prefers the Mini)
Favourite book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Favourite films: Gladiator, Titanic
Favourite albums: X&Y by Coldplay, Best of the Police
Career ambition: To make Santander Private Banking one of the top five private banks in the country and to see the launch of a number of dedicated branches across the UK
Life ambition: To get a hole in one, to see my daughter have a happy and successful life and to spend more time in a country with a predictable climate
If I wasn’t doing this I would be … Running a retail shop or small business of some kind