Ask Alice: A conversation with RCI Bank CEO
RCI Bank recently celebrated its 6th year anniversary, and as a savings bank we are proud of how far we’ve come in those 6 years since launching our first product, the Freedom Savings Account. Since then, we’ve expanded the product range to suit more savers’ needs, received our UK banking licence, and most recently we launched the RCI Bank mobile app. We sat down with our CEO Alice Altemaire, who helped to launch RCI Bank, to discuss her insights on the Bank’s growth and the savings sector as a whole.

1. Since launching in the UK in 2015, how has RCI Bank grown in the savings landscape?

Over the last 6 years, RCI Bank has grown to over 100,000 savings customers. We started off with the Freedom Savings Account as a way to re-imagine what an easy access account could be for customers. We are proud that customers can open an account in as little as 15 minutes, be able to earn a competitive interest rate that has placed us consistently near the top of all savings accounts, and of course benefit from award-winning service with a human touch.

Six years ago, we set a new standard, which other online banks now try to follow. We’re pleased to have gained the loyalty of UK savers and so have been able to expand the RCI Bank offering to include 1 to 5-year fixed term products, a 95-Day Notice Account and a mobile app.

Additionally, over the past 6 years our customers’ deposits have grown to fund over 250,000 loans to finance Renault, Dacia and Nissan vehicle purchases here in the UK. However, despite this growth and the ever-changing savings landscape, our dedication to our customers combined with our commitment to simplicity, award-winning service and competitive rates remains at the heart of everything we do.

2. What is your biggest achievement during your time here at RCI Bank?

Our biggest achievement as a team is having built a successful bank with a customer-focused culture that will last for the long term. During my time as CEO, I have been dedicated to continuously evolving RCI Bank, to ensure we deliver on our promises and commitment to being the best UK savings bank. Just before returning to RCI Bank as CEO, we obtained a UK banking licence in 2019 and joined the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to show we plan to be here for the long term.

Our hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed, as shown by the accolades we’ve received; we’ve achieved multiple Fairer Finance Gold ribbons for customer service; the Moneyfacts Online Savings Provider of the Year in 2020; and the Savings Champion Highly Commended Award for Simple Savings in 2021. These awards mean even more to us when voted on by our loyal customers.

3. The events from the past year have indicated the start of a savings revolution – how do you think the nation views savings right now?  

Given the year we’ve had, I think people view having a savings cushion as more important than ever. A key lesson from the past year is that a person’s financial health is a vital part of their overall well-being. Building good savings habits and choosing the account best suited to your savings needs can help support one’s financial health.

We have recently lowered the maximum deposit amount for our Freedom account from £1 million to £250,000, allowing RCI Bank to welcome more individual savers before we hit our business targets. As more and more people are getting into the habit of saving, we hope that more will see how easy and convenient it is to save with RCI Bank.

4. In your opinion what looks to be the most important trend this year in the banking sector? 

Looking after the planet and trying to reduce our carbon footprint is becoming increasingly more important and I’m encouraged to see the introduction of sustainable accounts across some banks. RCI Bank is participating in carbon offsetting projects such as the SME Climate Hub, aiming to halve our emissions by 2030, and striving to achieve net zero emissions before 2050.

As part of Groupe Renault, we plan to introduce more electric vehicles to the road in the UK. We’re continuously working to make our business greener and are accelerating our path to environmental sustainability and carbon neutrality.

5. As a CEO of a digital bank, what technological advancements do you think are most valuable to savers today?

Having a mobile banking app has become vital for savers on the go, especially as life out of lockdown begins to materialise. We launched our mobile app last December 2020 to help our customers reach their savings goals quicker. We wanted to make saving easier and more convenient by allowing you to check your balance, schedule a transfer and withdraw money to and from your linked account, wherever you are. Having up-to-date technology backed with a reliable service organisation allows us to continue to offer the best security and support to our customers.

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