`I'd like to See Financial Services Pushed Up the Economic Development Agenda' IAN Courtney Continues His Series of Interviews with Leading Public and Private Sector Figures by Putting Chief Executive of the Principality Building Society Peter Griffiths under the Spotlight
Byline: IAN COURTNEY
QYou have had a long career in the banking industry. Can you tell me a little bit about your career and yourself?
A ``I was born in Tenby in 1958 and was the fifth of eight children. My dad worked for the co-op. My parent's attitude was that it was important that I should get a decent job. So I joined the National Westminster Bank's Tenby branch and worked for it for 22 years.
``I qualified to became a member of the professional institute for bankers and worked my way up the management ladder.
``Part of the reason was that I realised that if I had a flexible attitude to moving around the country, it would give me a better opportunity to progress.
``I spent a lot of my time in retail and corporate lending. Much of my career was spent in the Midlands. I particularly remember working there at the time of the recession in the early 1990s and the impact it had on the manufacturing sector.
``Eventually I moved to Cardiff to become the bank's director for Wales in the mid 1990s, before I moved over to the Principality.
``I enjoy banking and financial services because of the pleasure I get from building relationships and because I am very competitive, and the financial-services sector is highly competitive.''
QThroughout the 1990s, financial services were a significant source of new jobs that benefited a number of UK regions. Yet it appears that Wales lost out on this employment shift. What can be done to improve the situation?
A ``We need to remember that Wales, and Cardiff in particular, have come from a very low base. This is in contrast to Edinburgh for instance, which has a long history and tradition in banking and financial services... although, as an aside, I think the decision of Legal and General to locate in Cardiff is an interesting one, given the Welsh background of its chief executive (David Prosser).
``I would like to see financial services pushed up the economic development agenda. If Wales is to make progress in building a strong set of financial services institutions, we really need to take a long-term view of the issues.
``This means having a vision of what Wales can do best and then setting out your stall in a professional and persuasive manner. …