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Women in Fintech: Empowering Small Businesses with Sophie Gorman of Metro Bank

Women in Fintech: Empowering Small Businesses with Sophie Gorman of Metro Bank

Founded in 2010 by Anthony Thomson and Vernon Hill, Metro Bank was the first new high street bank to go live in the U.K. in more than 100 years. Currently led by CEO Daniel Frumkin, the institution offers banking services to both retail and business customers, buttressed by its acquisitions of SME Finance in 2013 and of the loan portfolio for P2P loan marketplace RateSetter in 2021.

We caught up with Sophie Gorman, Lead Product Owner with Metro Bank to learn more about how the institution leveraged its hybrid, digital, and physical model to better serve both individuals and small businesses. We also asked Ms. Gorman about the meaning and importance of agility in banking and what women can do to succeed in the male-dominated world of finance.

Tell us about yourself.

Sophie Gorman: I have worked in the financial services space for almost 10 years, spanning roles at several banking organizations in the U.K. like Silicon Valley Bank and Lloyds Banking Group. During this time, I gained valuable experience across a wide range of customer segments and channels.

For the past three years, I have been a part of the Metro Bank team. Metro Bank is the first new retail bank in the U.K. in over 100 years; we launched in 2010 and now serve more than two million customers with leading banking services. At Metro, we’re bringing together digital and physical experiences to provide a personalized approach to banking, challenging the big banks and traditional players.  

I’ve worn several different hats at Metro, and I now serve as lead product owner. I am responsible for delivering new digital products and services across our mobile and online banking platforms to help small businesses manage their finances. I am excited to continue to build out Metro’s business banking division, delivering value to our customers by leveraging existing and new technologies to make their financial lives easier.

How can banks embrace agility from an organizational level?

Gorman: It’s easy to believe your institution needs to deliver every feature from day one, but such thinking is actually counterproductive to embracing an agile approach. It’s important for banks to be able to pivot and tweak their offerings based on factors like user feedback, market research, and usage trends from the get-go. Such an approach to agility ensures the organization can evolve and innovate more quickly, ultimately proving to be more helpful for developers and stronger for overall team morale.

How do you support small businesses, especially those who aren’t ready to work with accountants?

Gorman: We are committed to empowering small businesses with easy, convenient digital tools to manage their finances. Recently, we’ve been focusing on providing internal bookkeeping capabilities to help businesses that may not work with accountants. One of the services our partner Sensibill provides is digital expense management, which helps our small business customers digitally capture, store, and organize their business receipts with plans to expand the services to include invoices.

The spend data captured by Sensibill helps us know and understand our customers better, which allows our bank to surface more relevant products and services based on their unique business needs. We are committed to leveraging this data to enrich our customer segments and deliver services to help our business customers grow. Our data is starting to demonstrate insightful trends that can help inform decisions.

I’m especially excited about our team building open banking APIs to allow customers to integrate transactional data with their accounting providers. With this functionality, customers can seamlessly share transactions in real-time. And as these businesses grow and become more sophisticated, they’ll be able to easily take advantage of additional tools.

Tell us about Metro Bank’s hybrid model.

Gorman: Metro Bank is bringing together digital experiences and the physical stores to provide our customers with the best possible experience for their individual needs. We recognized that customers still craved face-to-face interactions with our store colleagues and Local Business Managers in certain instances, but still wanted the optionality and convenience for digital at their fingertips. We’re in a unique position because Metro isn’t a true neo-bank, but it’s not one of the U.K.’s Big Four either. We’ve been in the market for a little over 10 years, so we’re still relatively young and growing quickly. It’s been a fun ride so far, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

How can women grow within organizations? 

Gorman: For women looking to grow in the banking or technology space, I’d encourage them to lean into their transferable skills. Oftentimes women make the mistake of thinking they have to fit into a certain box based on their current role, making it difficult to transition into other roles or find opportunities in a new area. But by nurturing and harnessing those transferable skills, women can gain the confidence to apply their knowledge and diverse skill sets to other areas, continuing to deliver value to the organization in new ways and grow.  

I’d recommend finding a mentor in the organization with influence outside of your immediate team to provide you with visibility and push for opportunities that will stretch you. This helped me transition into a more technology based role. I also loved reading Viv Groskop’s How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking which has some fantastic practical tips for those suffering from the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels