The Gibraltar International Bank Limited was incorporated as a legal entity on 23rd April 2013, however the project to set up the Bank was officially launched on 4th May 2014 when Lawrence Podesta and Derek Sene joined the Bank as the new Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer. They were faced with an initial task of reviewing and updating the business plan that had been compiled by consultants as well as securing a banking licence, acquiring a central accounting system and recruiting the staff, all within the shortest possible time scale.
In June 2014 the recruitment initiative began to recruit the Senior Team where the HR Manager, Chief Risk Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Head of IT, Head of Operations, Head of Relationship Teams and Head of Front Office were contracted. During this period the Shareholder appointed the Board made up of two Executive Directors and eight Non-Executive Directors who are all top professionals within their respective fields.
When the main recruitment drive was initiated, the bank received over 900 applications and close to 300 interviews were conducted to recruit the initial 52 members of staff. On the 1st October 2014 the new staff officially joined the bank and commenced on a client recruitment drive in their temporary offices whilst the premises of their Main Office at 310 Main Street was still under construction.
With the permission of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), the Gibraltar International Bank went live on the 13th October 2014 with an account application process available via the Bank’s website. At that stage, the Bank did not hold a full banking licence and whilst the FSC allowed the Bank to engage with clients to discuss the opening of accounts, funds could not be deposited to the account until a full banking licence was obtained.
Apart from having to obtain a banking licence, another factor holding back the full opening of the Bank was the state of readiness of the newly refurbished premises at 310 Main Street. The building is of a significant historical value being one of the oldest buildings on the south end of Main Street. The building was refurbished to a very high standard, combining the old architecture with modern technology and it was awarded a Heritage Award by the Gibraltar Heritage Society in 2015.
From the outset the Bank’s business plan was to deliver a digital bank, moving away from the traditional manual retail banking. Consequently the design of the Bank’s banking hall reflected a modern environment with the latest technology providing clients with an efficient and up to date self-service environment. Further innovations were that the Bank would not issue any cheque books or hard copy statements with the exception of clients within the two propositions which were geared towards mature personal clients and smaller businesses.
On 5th May 2015 with all client stationery ordered and delivered, the full office branded and kitted out, all staff recruited, a full banking licence in place and approximately 3,500 clients having already signed up, the Gibraltar International Bank opened its doors for business. The business officially opened up its doors to clients within a record period of a year to the day from when Lawrence Podesta and Derek Sene walked into their office on the first day to implement the Bank’s business plan.