First Direct – the online banking subsidiary of HSBC

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Originally created by the Midland Bank and now owned by multi-national conglomerate HSBC, First Direct is primarily a telephone and internet bank coordinated from headquarters in Leeds, England.

Launched as a result of the success of Direct Line in the insurance industry (who had pioneered the business model of having no physical presence for customers), one of the initial marketing points of the company was the ease of use for customers compared to traditional banks such as Barclays and Lloyds – with around 250,000 people signing up for a service with the bank in the first four years. Although growth has faltered somewhat since then, First Direct is now estimated to have over a million customers.

Having originally started out offering purely banking products (through current accounts, credit cards and loans), First Direct have since moved into insurance products and more recently have developed a stockbroking division.

Despite it being the main way in which the company do business, First Direct only employ two call centres – one near their head offices in the Stourton district of Leeds, and another in Hamilton, Scotland. With the online side of their operations the fastest growing aspect of the bank, it is unlikely that they will be looking to expand on this in the near future.