Gareth Jones, Chief executive, Abbey National Treasury services
Who remembers the "Abbey habit"? The slogan which brought savers flocking to deposit money may still be there but, as with the Prudential's "man from the Pru", times and tastes have changed. Today Abbey National is a full-service bank with total assets of £124 billion ($202 billion). Last year Abbey reported pre-tax profits of £1.17 billion. In terms of assets it is the fifth-largest bank in the UK with a market capitalization of £13.2 billion.
It is also a leading domestic and international borrower. This year it will raise up to the equivalent of $15 billion in medium-term notes and bonds. With long-term credit ratings of AA by Standard and Poor's and AA2 from Moody's Investors Service, Abbey is a sought-after borrower by investment bankers and a favourite among investors, especially in the name-conscious retail sector.
How did Abbey National turn itself from a run-of-the-mill building society into one of the hottest Euromarket borrowers? Enter Gareth Jones, a former Redland Group group treasurer who joined Abbey in 1989. Under his leadership it has marketed itself aggressively, beyond its traditional UK customer savings base. Abbey had the financial credentials. The missing factor was recognition. Through excellent marketing and promotion and some highly visible borrowing across a wide range of currencies, Jones and his staff ensured more retail and institutional customers became aware of the new Abbey habit - snapping up the bank's paper and bonds in the international markets.