UK challenger Alba Bank appoints chief risk officer and chair as it readies for launch

Ellie Duncan
11 Sep 2023

New UK-based challenger bank Alba Bank has hired Aldermore Bank’s chief risk officer Andrew Lewis and has also strengthened its executive committee with the appointment of Robert Sharpe as chair of the board.

Sharpe is currently chair at Metro Bank, Hampshire Trust Bank and Pollen Street, and has notched up more than 45 years in the retail banking industry.

Lewis will join Alba Bank as chief risk officer, having spent three years at Aldermore.

Alba Bank’s Robert Sharpe (left) and Andrew Lewis

Prior to that he worked at Bain & Co in its financial services and digital practice and, before that, worked at NatWest Group for over 20 years, where he held a number of senior business and risk roles, most recently managing director, commercial and private banking.

Alba Bank was founded in 2018 to provide commercial finance to UK SMEs and was granted its banking licence by the UK Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority earlier this year.

Rather than operating remote contact centres for its clients, Alba Bank has established a network of regional commercial finance experts who work alongside its SME clients.

“We’ve now got a team with the right experience and values to deliver a new challenger bank aimed at supporting SMEs to achieve their true potential,” said Rod Ashley, chief executive officer of Alba Bank.

“Robert and Andy bring considerable experience of running successful retail banks, at big institutions and smaller challenger banks. Their insight into the challenges and opportunities of creating a bank committed to serving SMEs will be invaluable as we accelerate plans for launch.”

Lewis added: “I’ve spent a lot of my career working with the SME sector, which has been consistently failed by the big banks.

“There are many reasons for that failure, but we see a real opportunity for Alba to champion this key part of the UK economy as a specialist lender. I’m delighted to be part of it.”

Lewis said that in his new role, his focus will be on “helping mobilise a safe, scalable and sustainable bank” and “offering compelling SME lending and online savings propositions to our customers”.