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Why local knowledge matters in a global crisis

a At a time of crisis, sometimes it can be the smaller, independent businesses that are best positioned to cope with the challenges being faced.

With the spread of Covid -19 across the globe starting to have a serious impact on economies, coupled with – from an Isle of Man point of view – the collapse of Flybe, the island is facing serious challenges.

A strong business sector should help to stand the island in good stead. Most major corporations will have already drawn up or will be in the process of drawing up an action plan to deal with the developing situation with regard to Covid-19. But sometimes, the nature of big business can mean that it takes a while for all the details to be addressed, especially at a local level. And that is where an independent business, fully integrated within its community, can show the value of local knowledge and close community links.

Business decisions can be made locally, tailored to specific needs, in a quicker response than might be the case for a corporation operating at a global level. For instance, as an independent organisation, Conister Bank was able to start work on a contingency plan as soon as the potential seriousness of Covid-19 became apparent.

As an island-based bank, we can move to support local businesses in the face of what is a huge, but hopefully temporary, economic shock. That is not just altruism, it is good for the economy in general. Keeping the economy strong – and helping small businesses to withstand the storm will assist with that – is important for all businesses.

And it will also send out a strong message: that the Isle of Man is built to withstand the greatest of pressures. Similarly, we were able to have a bespoke plan for a no-deal Brexit and its impact on the Isle of Man.

World events have dominated the economic landscape at the moment and the full impact on smaller organisations is hard to measure. By listening to the needs of the community you serve, you can help the economy to deal with whatever is thrown at it. But there is another challenge that many smaller businesses face and that is what can be perceived as the uneven spread of liquidity – cash flow – available to smaller organisations.

Again, that is where an independent bank can play its part, by offering something different from the larger organisations and, once again, supporting the local economy by backing local businesses and offering cash flow solutions.

There are many different ways this can be done. At Conister, we have launched a number of notice accounts, which are specifically aimed at both businesses and individuals who have suffered from a lack of yield since the recession in 2008. There are other things that can assist a small business. For instance, an annual insurance payment that falls at the wrong time of the year could be problematic for a business on tight margins. But if you can break that down into a number of payments over the year, for instance monthly, that can ease the pressure.

Whether it be contingency plans for major events such as Brexit or the Covid-19 outbreak, or more localised issues, the important point to this is that a business which its base and focus in the Isle of man can often find itself in a better position to support businesses and individuals.
It enables a bank like Conister to be there to help both individuals and the community through assisting businesses with their liquidity. Ensuring the distribution of liquidity is fair for businesses both large and small is one way of doing this.

The island has a robust political and regulatory environment, which encourages business. While larger banks may have their decision-making taking place in a different country, an independent bank has the freedom to act locally and often more quickly. Such a position has enabled Conister to develop liquidity plans to help businesses through situations such as a no-deal Brexit and negating the impact of Covid-19.

A bank that is in a position to introduce new products, such as deposit accounts, designed specifically for a localised customer base, is well-placed to help local businesses to deal with whatever threat may come along. The small business market in the Isle of Man has a solid base and that allows a bank to identify the opportunities to help cement that by offering the right product. It is in a bank’s interests to accommodate the needs of its customers. The net result is for a more active economy.
A common theme coming out of government is ‘nation building’. That includes at an economic level.

It makes good business sense for independent, island-based organisations, to tailor products to the local demand. Ultimately, the benefit will be for the island as whole.

Conister Bank customers affected by coronavirus

c We understand that there may be circumstances where a customer, personal or business, may fall into financial difficulty as a result of the impacts of Coronavirus.

Conister Bank will review customers’ situations on a “case-by-case” basis and will consider a number of options to help our customers manage their finances.

We are monitoring the potential impact of Coronavirus across all our customers to ensure we can support them appropriately through any period of disruption.

We would encourage any customer experiencing financial difficulty to get in touch with us immediately.

Andrew Moody settling in well to life at Conister Bank

cc At the end of the summer, Conister Bank’s Isle of Man sales team welcomed newest recruit Andrew Moody as Sales Manager. Since then, Andrew has been busy learning the ropes, getting to know the bank’s customers, and adding a new dimension of skills and experience to the team.

Andrew’s primary focus as Sales Manager is Conister’s online lending systems and its network of Approved Partners. This is a new role which has been specially created to meet the increasing demand for the bank’s online services and to ensure that Conister Bank maintains the position of being the dominant lender on the Island.
“I’m excited by this fresh challenge and eager to put my ideas and plans into place” says Andrew. “I’ve hit the ground running and it’s been a great couple of months meeting new people and understanding how Conister Bank contributes to the Island’s people and economy.”

“Andy Bass, Head of Sales for the Isle of Man business, comments, “The demand for our online services has been so strong that we took the decision to create this role, which is a demonstration of our commitment to the Isle of Man’s lending market. I am delighted to have Andrew in the team, working alongside Tom Charmer and Lee Gale.

“This really is an exciting time for Conister Bank and for our customers. We have strategically built an excellent sales team; we offer unrivalled customer service; and our online lending system allows our customers the flexibility to apply for finance 24/7. I am extremely proud of our recent achievements as we approach our 85th year in business.”

Meet Tom Charmer, Conister Bank’s friendly face in the South 

tc Meet Tom Charmer, Conister Bank’s friendly face in the South 

As an independent bank which has served the Isle of Man since 1935, Conister Bank knows that the key to longevity in business is building and nurturing strong customer relationships. For Conister, this is made possible by a team in which every member is people-orientated and enjoys being part of the Island’s community. 

Tom Charmer, who has been a Sales Manager with Conister Bank for just over a year, relishes the customer-focused nature of his role and the organisation as a whole. As a ‘Southerner’, he particularly enjoys helping businesses in the south to get off the ground, grow and thrive. 

Tom grew up in Castletown and Port Erin, attending the towns’ respective Primary Schools before moving up to Castle Rushen High School.

On leaving school, Tom went to work in the banking sector, gaining promotion from his initial Cashier role to Customer Services Officer, then Relationship Manager. It was here, working across the Island, that he cultivated his people strengths and gained key experience in helping customers to achieve their individual goals. 

Tom now lives in Braddan with his partner Clare and their two sons, Jake (8) and Harry (3). “I still spend a lot of time down south”, he says. “All my family are down there, so I see them regularly”.

Tom often plays golf in the south and prior to taking up the sport he was a keen footballer, starting out at Rushen United before going on to captain Castletown. “I love the south because it’s familiar, it’s where I grew up and where many of my friends still live. It’s a great place to go and relax”. 

As a Sales Manager with Conister Bank, Tom has a major focus on the south of the Island, “I want to meet with as many business owners as possible and understand their needs or frustrations. We simply want to help people in any way we can, whether that’s with a business or start-up loan or by releasing working capital. One thing that new businesses discover is that growth can be harder than setting up - we’re able to reassure them that we’re with them all the way, not just at the beginning”. 

In Castletown alone, Conister Bank has supported three recent success stories - The Secret Pizza Company, Compton Vaults and Body Craft Fitness. Down in Port Erin, Tom is busy talking to the local community, letting people know what Conister can do for them; meetings with the Port Erin Traders’ Association has given him a valuable insight into the needs of local businesses.

To any prospective or current business owner thinking of getting in touch, Tom says, “We’re open for business and want to help you. Conister is a traditional bank in that we believe in making personal visits and providing a consistent, familiar face for our customers to meet with. We have such a wide range of services and products to help people, and I’m always happy to have a chat. We will always want to support our local community - after all, we’re part of it too. This is where we work and live, and are proud to call home”. 

Conister Bank sponsors 2019 Isle of Man Young Farmers Concert

aa Conister Bank has announced its sponsorship of this year’s Young Farmers Concert, reaffirming its commitment to the island’s agricultural community.

The concert, an exuberant blend of music, dance and comedy, is for many people the Isle of Man’s entertainment highlight of the year. Last year, enthusiasts began to queue outside the Welcome Centre hours before the tickets went on sale!

This will be the second year that Conister Bank has sponsored the concert. Young Farmers’ Federation Chairman Charlie Corkill commented, “We are delighted to have Conister onboard as our title sponsor. We are very fortunate in that we have never lacked sponsorship offers, however, Conister stood out as the best fit for the event as they have strong links with the agricultural sector”.

Conister Bank, which was founded in 1935, have a close affiliation to the island’s farming community, having long provided tailored financial assistance, for instance, livestock funding and asset finance, to both new and established concerns.

Andy Bass, Head of Sales (Isle of Man) says, “We are committed to being part of the agricultural sector on the Isle of Man. To understand its needs, it is really important to listen to voices from within that community.

There are many young people involved in agriculture who have the ambition and enthusiasm to build businesses, both those whose roots are firmly within the traditional sector and those looking to diversify.

Over the years, we have developed schemes designed to support the industry, which is so integral to the island’s economy and identity. Moving forward, we remain dedicated to providing products and services that allow the sector to grow. And we are very happy to return as the sponsor for this year’s Young Farmers concert. It will be great show”.

The Young Farmers in the Isle of Man are part of the UK-wide Federation, one of the largest organisations of its kind, with 612 clubs across England and Wales. In the Isle of Man, there are four clubs organised according to region: Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central.

To anyone interested in joining, the Young Farmers stress that you don’t have to come from an agricultural background: the organisation offers a wide range of activities and events, and welcomes anyone who loves to be outdoors, stay active, travel, meet new people, and generally live life to the full!

New Internal Promotion at Conister Bank

aa Conister Bank has appointed a new Sales Manager from within its Isle of Man Lending team, showing its commitment to recognising potential and facilitating career progression.

Lee Gale joined Conister Bank in June 2017, having previously worked for Isle of Man Bank for over seven years. Lee, 27, says, “In my career so far, I have developed strong relationships with personal and business customers around the island; I now hope to build on that, and introduce more people to the Conister products and services which can benefit their lives and businesses”.

In his new role, Lee will be a point of contact for many of the bank’s existing Introducers, and will play a key part in identifying and creating new lending opportunities within the retail business and commercial sectors. He will also implement and provide support for the bank’s new web portals for motor dealers and retail outlets, such as bike shops and furniture stores.

The multiple responsibilities of Sales Manager will play to Lee’s skills and strengths: “I put one hundred and ten per cent into everything I do; I have a very competitive nature and strive to be the best I can. Working at Conister has made me even hungrier to succeed, as they have supported me and given me the chance to progress quickly. I can’t speak highly enough about the company and my teammates. I have always enjoyed and taken pride in helping customers and delivering excellent service, which is what Conister is known and respected for, so I’m right at home here”.

Outside work, Lee, who grew up in Foxdale and now lives there with his partner Emma, is “passionate about family, friends and football”. He plays for both Peel AFC and the Isle of Man National Team with such distinction that he has won a number of awards, including the Isle of Man Football Association’s Player of the Year (twice in three seasons) and the Isle of Man Football Writers’ Player of the Year. In work and on the pitch, Lee’s drive and dedication have paid off.

Andy Bass, Conister Bank’s Isle of Man Head of Sales, comments, “Lee’s promotion to Sales Manager is reward for his hard work and commitment to Conister during a period of growth for the bank on the Isle of Man. It further reflects our clear vision to invest in our staff and support their career development. I believe that Lee’s likeability, professionalism and ability to interact with customers make his appointment an exciting addition to our Isle of Man Sales Team as we continue to strengthen our position as the major player in the local lending market”.

Conister Bank’s parent company Manx Financial Group PLC announces a 43% growth against the same period last year.

dg Conister Bank’s parent company Manx Financial Group PLC announces a 43% growth against the same period last year.

Profits at the locally based financial services group, which includes Conister Bank Limited, Edgewater Associates Limited and Manx FX Limited, have significantly increased in their latest published results.

Manx Financial Group PLC’s Interim Results were published this week and emphasised yet another milestone in the history of the Group.

Jim Mellon, Executive Chairman, commented: “I am pleased to report that the half year continues our progressive growth in profitability and puts us well on the road to the realisation of our strategic objectives. For the first six months of 2018, our profit before tax stands at £1.4 million representing a growth of just over 43% against the same period last year”.

Conister Bank continues to perform with profits of £1.6 million before tax which is an increase of 78% compared to last year. Overall total assets have grown by 16% to £194.8 million.

New Sales Manager for Conister Bank Limited

tc Conister Bank is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Sales Manager, Tom Charmer.

Tom brings to Conister a portfolio of skills and expertise which make him ideal for his new role. As a lifelong Isle of Man resident, Tom has been a part of the local banking and finance industry since finishing high school.

Conister Bank Limited Appoints New Associate Directors

ff Conister Bank Limited is pleased to announce two promotions to senior management from within the organisation. Haseeb Qureshi, (Chief Operating Officer), and Andy Bass, (Head of Isle of Man Sales), have both been promoted to the position of Associate Director with immediate effect.

The appointments are part of a number of internal organisational changes to Conister’s management structure designed to continue to develop growth, which has continued to increase over the last twelve months.

Haseeb and Andy will continue in their respective roles as an integral part of Conister’s operational departments, whilst also helping to deliver strategy, product development, staff progression and provide overall management oversight. These appointments will allow the Board and Conister’s Senior Management to delegate additional functions, providing them with more time to focus on and plan for Conister’s future success.

Approved Partner Scheme

ap12 Conister Bank has built a reputation for outstanding customer service, forging long and lasting relationships with members of the community. And now the bank's newly launched Approved Partner Scheme means customers can easily recognise a business that shares these values too.

The Approved Partner Scheme will make it easy for customers to find a business that can offer flexible payment plans that suit their needs and budget, with lending from Conister Bank. Businesses that sign up to the Approved Partner Scheme can benefit from Conister Bank's expertise to offer bespoke services to customers. They will be able to offer a range of payment options to their customers, including a 0% finance option, with no lending fees.

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Where to find us

Come and talk to our team in branch at:
Conister Bank Limited, Clarendon House, Victoria Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 2LN

We are open Mon to Thurs 9am - 5:30pm, Fri 9am - 5pm

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