Queen's banker growing in Kent

COUTTS, the rich people's bank, is considering a presence in Canterbury. After hiking business by 100 per cent at its office in Tunbridge Wells, it is pushing into other locations.

During a recent visit to Kent, chief executive Gordon Pell said he was considering opening a suite in Canterbury, available to clients and private bankers as required.

"We will put branches wherever we get business," he said. "We might have an office in Tunbridge Wells but should we have a suite in Canterbury which is not used permanently but is available and more convenient for clients in that area?"

The Kent branch, one of the first in the private bank's new strategy to expand its regional network, enjoyed 100 per cent growth in the past year and attracted business from across the county, he said.

He expected growth of around 50 per cent in the coming year and hoped to recruit an extra private banker to join the team managed by James Richards.

Clients usually need half a million pounds in disposable income to join Coutts, the private banking arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland. But the bank is also on the lookout for people with potential to reach that mark.

Coutts, the bank used by the Royal Family as well as footballers, entertainers and business people, is not just for old people, Mr Pell said.

Most clients were "younger than outsiders might suspect, often economically active and entrepreneurs who made money by selling a business and had no intention of retiring.

"Our main problem is trying to convey to clients that we're not just in the business of looking after the landed aristocracy. We are a bank for seriously successful people."

Mr Pell, an RBS director and former retail banking director with Lloyds TSB,said several companies serving this client group had pulled out of the regions, leaving Coutts -- founded in 1692 -- with a great opportunity to fill the gap.

The newest branch, in Liverpool, has just opened, and other branches may be set up in Guildford and Winchester.

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