FIRST DIRECT has appointed a new chief executive - the first woman to hold the role since the pioneering bank was launched in Leeds 25 years ago.
Mother-of-two Tracy Garrad takes over from Mark Mullen, who left the business to join the start-up challenger bank Atom.
She was appointed head of First Direct last April, joining from parent HSBC.
Ms Garrad told The Yorkshire Post: “While I’ve been head of this great business for the last year, I’m delighted to be taking on the role of CEO for first direct and have the opportunity to really shape the future strategy of the bank, especially as we celebrate our 25th anniversary this year.
“While we started a revolution all those years ago by introducing service to bank customers when, where and how they wanted, it feels like we’re entering the next phase and I’m excited to be part of that.”
First Direct reported strong customer growth in 2013 and a net increase of nearly 30 per cent in current accounts. Its new switching service took the number of customers joining the bank to its highest level since 2006. The bank has a major presence in Leeds with 2,600 employees and is sponsor of the city’s new 13,000-capacity concert venue.
At HSBC, Ms Garrad held responsibility for contact centre support and processes across the Europe and Middle East regions.
She previously spent 10 years with Abbey National and Santander UK.
Before entering the financial services industry at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, she worked across a range of sectors including automotive and retail in roles covering marketing and public affairs, technology and commercial management.
The 43-year-old has been married for 22 years and has a daughter aged 20 and a 15-year-old son.
Outside of work, she enjoys skiing and 1980s music.