Porter to head Abbey’s ‘customer refocus’ plan

BT managing director Angus Porter is to take up the newly created position of customer propositions director at Abbey National. The role is central to chief executive Luqman Arnold’s attempt to build a new customer-focused retail model for high street banking and turn around losses of nearly &£1bn last year.

Porter will have responsibility for customer services and products as well as all marketing functions.

Arnold has already overseen two whirlwind reviews, appointing TBWA/London and MindShare to the bank’s &£22m advertising business. He also brought in Wolff Olins for a brand review.

Porter claims he was kept in the loop by Arnold about the appointments and believes there is still plenty of scope left for him to manoeuvre.

Porter describes Abbey National as “an interesting company with interesting challenges”, and says he believes financial services have a lot in common with telecoms. “There is the risk that both complicate and talk their own language rather than communicate with the consumer,” he says.

Some insiders say it appears that Porter, who moved to BT in 1999 from Masterfoods, has settled for a less senior position at the bank. However, Porter says he was swayed by the attraction of a board position at a FTSE company – something not forthcoming at BT.

Porter accepted the job in March, the same time as retail marketing director Janet Connor was moved sideways, but the appointment was announced only this week.

Porter’s appointment is part of a growing trend in financial services to make appointments outside the industry with a view to rebuilding the sector’s battered image with consumers. One industry source suggests the new title of customer propositions director is to differentiate the position from that of previous marketing directors.

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