Mix human-centred design with culture activism and you get a bank with a unique people value proposition

The principles of human-centred design might not be what people immediately associate with high street banks, but challenger GB Bank is doing things differently. This new specialist bank is dedicated to regenerating communities across the UK by providing much needed property development finance with incentives for sustainable and zero carbon developments. GB Bank is focussed on building communities and the management team is focused on building its own team community by making its workplace the best its people have ever experienced. Here Chief People Officer Jenna Baker talks about the bank’s progressive journey and its approach to become one of the most flexible employers in the financial sector.

“From day one we have been focused on our culture, creating an authentic people orientated organisation. This is something which I believe sets us apart as a start-up because many organisations only consider this stage when they start to grow. Our people value proposition has been an important part of the business strategy from the start. “Starting out during a pandemic has made this more challenging, adapting to remote working and the fast growth of our team. However, we recognised immediately the increased need to cement our mission, vision, and values. The extra work required to achieve this has been invaluable. This was the first step on the journey to adopting human- centred design; from then on we moved to creating our policies with our people, not for them. It has been a game changer.

“Take flexibility, which is one of the things we have always embraced and is something our team thrives on. Everyone owns their own time, and it can be quite hard sometimes for new starters to adapt to the fact we don’t work a typical 9-5 day. “Everyone, including our senior management team, is responsible for managing how they get the job done to suit their life. We believe this is one of the reasons why everyone at GB Bank feels so passionate about their work. We live and breathe this flexible working environment everyday, so we know how well this works, but we were delighted when it was independently verified by Flexa100’s list of the world’s most flexible companies! GB Bank is #69 in the list and is the only UK bank to have received this recognition from Flexa – something we are extremely proud of.

“Our recent culture survey backs this up and is an authentic and powerful indicator of how our people feel about working for GB Bank. 97% of our people have said they would recommend GB Bank as a great place to work and believe the leaders (Executive Committee) at GB Bank demonstrate that people are important to the company's success “Our culture is unique and it's what makes us special. However, we are not resting on our laurels – we are aware it can be hard to maintain this unique culture as we grow, and we are growing at a rapid rate! To help us we have created a ‘Culture Activist’ initiative. Our Culture Activists are colleagues who are accessible to all of the team and listen closely to their opinions and needs. We want our values to be authentic and for every person to understand they play an important part of how we evolve to being the best place to work. “Culture Activists support all people and receive vital feedback on what is and isn't working. They also generate great ideas – one of the most recent is welcome e-mail. This includes all the smiling faces of our team with tailored welcome messages to make our new joiners feel part of the GB Bank family. We also use a fantastic on-boarding system called HiBob. It’s the little things in there that really make the difference to a new starter, for example there is a specific area that answers all the questions that people often would like to ask but deem a bit ‘silly’. Having these answered up front can help give peace of mind and makes people immediately feel at home and part of the team.

“We’re at such an exciting part of our journey. We recently secured our provisional banking licence and our aim is to launch preferential rates for sustainable and zero carbon developments and developers. Our prestigious new offices have also now opened and reflect our culture perfectly with a fresh design that has created an office space into a creative, agile, and empowering environment to work.

“Our people will always be the foundation of our success and our current recruitment drive is focused on attracting more brilliant talent who will also help us achieve our dream of being of the best team-designed places to work in the UK.”

“We know that a big part of a person’s decision to join, or stay with, a company comes down to its culture and ethos and our journey and approach shows how passionate we are to be the best and most flexible place to work.”

GB Bank officially opens its doors at 2 Centre Square

GB Bank has officially opened the doors to its prestigious headquarters at 2 Centre Square, Middlesbrough welcoming staff and prominent members of the local business and property community to its offices boasting inventive interiors and a dynamic co-working environment.

GB Bank will occupy 11,000 sq ft net of office accommodation in Middlesbrough’s purpose-built 2 Centre Square which will be the base for the 120 head office staff covering finance, risk, customer management, marketing, human resources, IT, lending, savings and more.

GB Bank is a new specialist bank committed to boosting economic growth and prosperity for underserved regions of the UK. It will be a dedicated lender to SME property developers, bringing its regional passion and expertise to customers across the UK. This will be achieved by providing accessible, bespoke property development loan products with incentives for sustainable and zero carbon developments and rewards for developers committed to creating local employment opportunities.

GB Bank has further local links thanks to its cornerstone investor, the Teesside Pension Fund (TPF), which has invested £48m to date. The TPF provided an initial £20m and agreed to invest up to an additional £28m, when GB Bank obtained its provisional banking licence which was achieved towards the end of last year, making it the newest challenger bank.

Stephen Lancaster, CEO at GB Bank, said: “We believe that 2 Centre Square is a fantastic location for the bank, allowing us to draw upon the region’s established transportation network and to tap into the talent pool in Middlesbrough and across the North East. This is a very exciting time for GB Bank as we continue to scale up and define our savings and lending proposition. We are well on track to officially launch the bank to the market in the third quarter of this year when we will announce our property development lending criteria and competitive savings accounts. Bringing GB Bank to Middlesbrough is a real boost for the North East region benefiting the people we employ as well as the property developers we will work

“The design of the offices at 2 Centre Square has been superb, creating an office space into a creative, agile, and empowering environment to work. To have the opportunity to design our offices from scratch the way we want has been fantastic. We are delighted with the result which provides a truly collaborative environment that is geared towards flexible working arrangements with welcoming break out areas and meeting rooms. This commitment was also recognised recently as #69 in the Flexa100 ranking of the world’s most flexible companies.”

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston added: “Centre Square is the North East’s premier office location, and that’s why ambitious, growing businesses like GB Bank are queuing up to move here.

“It’s just the latest endorsement for a development that’s creating jobs and prosperity and playing a key role in transforming the town centre.

“That’s a major boost for Middlesbrough, and one that’s delivering long-term benefits for the whole area.”

Mark Ashall, the Managing Director of Ashall Projects and developer of Centre Square, said: “I am delighted to welcome GB Bank to Centre Square and, as with all the other new occupiers, it’s great to see how they are using the fantastic space the building provides to create a stunning workplace and great working environment for members of its team.

“Centre Square has many other benefits – not least its proximity to local amenities, including the station with new direct rail services to London. With the construction of the next Centre Square building well underway, Middlesbrough town centre is rapidly becoming the new hub for business in the Tees Valley with all the many benefits that

GB Bank’s Climate Positive Workforce

GB Bank’s Climate Positive Workforce

Here at GB Bank we are a bank with a purpose that every member of its team embraces, and a key part of our company ethos is centred around sustainability.

This isn’t just about being a responsible lender of sustainable and zero carbon developments but also how our own team approaches climate related issues. We have a vision to lead by example and are delighted to announce our partnership with environmental specialists Ecologi who are helping us to create a ‘Climate Positive Workforce.’

A key part of our sustainability commitment is to do more for the planet and combat the effects of climate change. Ecologi will help us to offset the emissions from our team’s personal and professional activities, creating a workforce that is climate positive. This means looking at our employee carbon footprint and ways in which this can be offset including emissions from their home, personal travel, holidays, food, hobbies and more. We will also be looking at planting trees and supporting carbon reduction projects.

Finance and sustainability will go hand in hand at GB Bank as we are also focused on supporting ecologically sound residential and commercial developments in UK communities.

This is an exciting step forward and we’re delighted to be teaming up with Ecologi to support our future.

Persistent Systems delivers digital-first banking infrastructure

Persistent Systems delivers digital-first banking infrastructure for new challenger GB Bank

GB Bank has partnered with global IT solutions provider Persistent Systems to build its digital-first IT infrastructure and support the bank’s ongoing operations.

Persistent Systems has built the bank’s bespoke cloud architecture using its flexible ‘digital mosaic’ approach, allowing GB Bank to cherry-pick the core SAAS based technologies it needs to provide exceptional tailored services for customers.

GB Bank is dedicated to meeting a long overdue need for property development finance across the underserved regions of the UK. Its ambition is to lend £3 billion over five years, building a £1 billion plus balance sheet, enabling the bank to fund almost 20,000 homes and several million square feet of office space, supporting the creation of over 100,000 jobs.

To deliver on this promise, GB Bank’s strategy is to provide outstanding customer service, delivered by technology-enabled relationship managers. Instead of relying on legacy systems, the UK’s newest challenger bank is committed to building an ecosystem of solutions, including payment and reporting features which can be integrated or replaced dynamically in response to the changing demands of a growing business. GB Bank has carefully selected cloud-based solutions providers, including Mambu, OutSystems and AWS to ensure the best quality features are implemented. Persistent is helping the bank to seamlessly integrate them all.

Stephen Lancaster, CEO at GB Bank, commented: “Accessing finance still remains a challenge for many developers and it’s our ambition to make that a much easier, more straightforward process.

We want to give our customers the support and resources they need and deserve, and so it has been vital to surround ourselves with a network of skilled partners to help us bring the bank to life.

To ensure success at every stage, we needed a systems integrator with a proven track record of integrating a flexible, composable infrastructure. In what has been a significant investment for GB Bank, the team at Persistent has lent their skill and experience to turn our vision into operating reality. Persistent’s track record in working with challenger banks and its understanding of how to design and develop a robust digital infrastructure has been central to us getting to this point.”

Rohit Bhosale, Digital Bank Specialist at Persistent Systems, said: “Challenger banks such as GB Bank are hugely important to the evolving financial landscape as they provide a simple and specialised service to niche markets, such as the Northern property developers GB Bank will support.

Our digital mosaic approach brings together the best of the SaaS solutions which ensures the complexity of building the IT infrastructure translates into the simplicity and flexibility needed by the bank, allowing it to deliver excellent customer service, underpinned by a sophisticated and flexible technical platform.”






Building a bank with a brilliant culture has always been our goal and we are delighted to be announced as #69 on the Flexa100 list of the world’s most flexible companies.

Since the bank’s inception we’ve been committed to creating a flexible and motivating working environment. This award is a fantastic recognition of our hard work. Our people and culture are the cornerstone of our success, and we are proud to offer flexible working arrangements for our teams.