British citizens were puzzled when they heard the Chief executive officer of Santander UK, Ana Patricia Botín, talking about them in such a frank way. It is obvious they are not used to being complaint about –and much less by a Spaniard. Before an audience of over 3,000 business leaders convened by the Institute of Directors, Botín criticised “the pessimism of British people” and their “fixation on seeing the glass as half empty” even when things go well. Basically she said that if they were able to look at the bright side of things, British economy would go considerably better. Furthermore, she added:
“I get the sense that the British can’t find the positive side to things. We have to stop frowning on failures while criticising those who have successfully created big businesses.”
Her words have made an impression on David Cameron, who decided to “join the enemy”, as it were. Ana Botín will enrol Cameron’s Board (a lobby ran by Downing Street), which will promote external trade and will be responsible for attracting inward investment and lift market access barriers for the UK’s financial services sector. It is interesting to mention that neither Botín nor any of the other members of this council will receive remuneration for their advisory work.
According to the UK government, the FSTIB will be chaired by Charles Roxburgh, director general of financial services at the Treasury. Five independent external members will also join the Board. All are industry leaders with extensive experience within the financial services sector, leading successful global firms. They will be acting within a personal capacity, on a pro bono basis, providing advice and expertise to the Board’s deliberations and challenging the Board on its delivery. For further details, please refer to the UK government website.
Coincidentally, Santander UK announced last week that they will retake ground in mortgages. The institution proclaimed that it is now offering a variety of products for borrowers, with a healthy mix of competitive interest rates and flexible terms and conditions. Last year, Santander mortgage lending contracted by 38 per cent from £23.7bn to £14.6bn, which made it slip from its position as the UK’s second-biggest lender in 2011 to fifth.