In a recent survey, 89% of the great British public said that they hold our armed forces in high regard, associating them with discipline, transparency and trust. But returning to Civvy Street can prove to be a daunting experience: PTSD notwithstanding, it is well documented that many service personnel struggle to cope with life outside the relative ‘safety’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one, considering this could include deployment in Afghanistan) and structure within the strict confines of service life. A case in point is how ill prepared they are to access and use 21st century banking and insurance systems. Prior to the Financial Services Act of 1986, the Ministry of Defence had a duty of care to advise the armed forces in all things money; the FSA changed this and quite simply nothing was created to replace it.
Air Commodore Mike Jenkins and Brigadier Tom O’Brien are well aware of this. Both ex-alumnae of the Royal College of Defence Studies, Mike served in the Air Force for 33 years as a pilot and later held leadership positions in regulation, development, internal audit, training, logistics and transformational change. Tom has designed and built some of the most complex technology and business solutions in pharmaceuticals, banking, insurance and telecommunications for – among others – Deloitte, Kwikfit Insurance and Vertex. Oh, and somehow, he also managed to fit in 40 years as an Army reservist.
‘I lived in the banking commuter belt’ explains Mike. ‘Through the recession and various high-profile banking scandals, I realised that the general, British consensus is that big financial institutions are held in low regard and, in particular, do not treat customers as well as they did. We wanted to challenge this perception using the values and ideals inherently learned in the forces: we decided to build a financial services business that lives the values of our servicemen and women and provides quick and easy access to insurance and consumer loans, while employing all the policies expected of a regulated bank. THE SERVICES FAMILY LTD will provide disclosure on our fee structure, tax and pay-scales, we will build a reputation for trust, responsiveness and integrity and will strive to become the UK’s most responsible and reliable financial services company. Tom’s business and technology expertise makes him an ideal Chief Technology Officer and my experience in operations, risk and strategy will enable us to build the organisational aspects and risk analytics underpinning the company and deliver the best possible customer experience.