The Bank of Dave

July 13, 2012 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: business, finance.

“The Bank of Dave” first appeared on the is4profit small business blog.

Dave Fishwick - The Bank of DaveA man in a pin-striped suit, asking for your money.

Oh, no, not another banker…!

Wrong. It’s Dave Fishwick, who made his millions as an entrepreneur with his own small business, and now he wants to hand some of that cash back to local businesses where the high street banks refuse to do so.

Starting life as a builder’s labourer, Dave worked his way up to become Britain’s largest supplier of minibuses. Now Dave wants to start his own bank, to show that money lending to small businesses can be a force for good.

On the Channel 4 show Bank of Dave last night, Fishwick started his journey by asking his wife to Google how he should go about setting up a bank. Finding the FSA guidance, Dave “makes a few phone calls” and embarks on his mission to set up his “tiny, tiny bank”.

Travelling to London from his home town of Burnley, in Lancashire, Dave speaks with a number of people who have experience in establishing financial organisations. The first hurdle, Dave discovers, is that he first needs a banking licence. Here, the odds are stacked against Fishwick as there has only been one new bank set up in the last 100 years (Metro Bank, 2010).

Encountering resistance to his push to set up the Bank of Dave, Fishwick leaves London, disheartened, feeling that bankers are a clique. Determined to push on, Dave speaks with a solicitor who says that;

“If you pick a word and it’s a controlled word, that might be straight to jail!”

With that controlled word being bank, Dave’s legal financial options are to set up a credit union or a building society. Dave Fishwick, ever the entrepreneur, is determined to get his own way and, with a few colourful words, seemingly dismisses these options, adamant to set up his “bank”.

So, using his own money and guarantees that his own fortune will keep the institution solvent, Fishwick finds an empty retail unit in the heart of Burnley and forges ahead with setting up shop. His £9,000 refit is way below that of the millions spent by the High Street banks and he publicises his venture with the help of local radio station, 2BR, and his friend, comedian & actor, Ted Robbins.

In front of a crowd of eager locals, Fishwick unveils his new shop front…

“Bank on Dave!”

Note the quotation marks and the exclamation mark; he’s not actually calling it a bank as the official name for his new venture is “Burnley Savings & Loans”.

In his new financial store, Dave sits and recalls his rules of business;

  1. Rule number one: Don’t lose money
  2. Rule number two: See rule number one

The Burnley Savings and Loans shop is open for business except for one small and important fact – it doesn’t have it’s lenders certificates or borrowers certificates, so what use is a “bank” with no money and no customers?!

With two weeks of paying his overheads and no operating licence, the paperwork finally comes through and the Bank of Dave embarks upon lending to local businesses;

First up, a sandwich shop in Clitheroe that is looking to expand; with 100 new houses being built nearby, San-Witches needs money to invest in more ovens to cook food for its growing catchment. The owners went to their high street bank for a loan but were turned down. Now they’re asking the “Bank of Dave” for the cash. Dave doesn’t ask for guarantees and is happy to fund their plans for expansion.

Then Dave is approached by a pet shop, keen to market itself and attract new customers by setting up a great big new fish tank and filling it with… Sharks!

Dave’s no stranger to publicity stunts himself and, liking Aquascope‘s business idea he invests.

So there you have it; one man against the odds. Dave Fishwick set up a business, lending to local small businesses, using his personal judgement to vet his clients, just like the traditional bank manager used to do.

There’s more of “The Bank of Dave” on Channel 4 next Thursday at 9pm, or you can catch up with episode 1 on 4oD

If you can’t wait to see the next episode in the series then you can always buy Dave’s book – Bank of Dave: How I Took On the Banks: The Story of One Man’s Heroic Attempt to Take On the Banks

For more information, see the Bank of Dave website. Sorry, I meant the Burnley Savings & Loans website.

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