Smart science, sound banking & the village church

Smart science, sound banking & the village church

Tim Pakenham, Assistant Banking Manager
Smart Private Banking Im Press Media

Tim Pakenham discusses why moving from a mainstream bank to Hampden & Co has been a big success for Hilary Turnbull and her global media business.

Drive through the tiny village of Carrington, in rural Midlothian, and you probably won’t register much beyond a handful of houses and a handsome church. But don’t be fooled by the silence, for the church walls conceal a hive of activity – albeit of a scientific rather than ecclesiastical nature.

Carrington Kirk is now home to “imPRESS International Media Ltd.”, surely the only global media business in the parish – and one, interestingly, that earns all its revenue in US dollars.

George Grierson, who is the Banking Director accountable for the services we provide to imPRESS, and I have never come across a business quite like it and I’m delighted that we’ve managed to make their banking experience a happier and much more efficient one, just by offering a more personal service than they had before.

imPRESS was the brainchild of Hilary Turnbull. Originally from Edinburgh, she qualified as an interpreter and translator in Russian and French, before joining Macmillan Publishers in London, originally owned by the family of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

“They publish what is possibly still the world's biggest research journal, Nature, and I worked there for a long time heading up the advertising side,” Hilary tells me. “My husband and I then moved to Glasgow when my son was about 18 months old and I couldn't get a job because there was nothing relevant there to what I’d been doing. However, I had offers from other publishers to do freelance work so that's how it all happened. The business started with me as a freelancer working at my dining table and, in a way, that’s what we still do – except now we’re in this beautiful church.”

White elephant – don’t touch it!

Hilary built the business by becoming the UK and European representative for two American science publishers, and then moved to Midlothian. That’s when she saw the Church, which was to become one of the more unusual locations among our business clients.

“I spotted it for sale in a magazine and assumed it was somewhere in England,” she says. “But then I saw an Edinburgh telephone number – and realised it was only 10 minutes away from my house, which was slightly embarrassing as I hadn’t heard of it. My husband is an architect and said ‘don't touch it, white elephant, it'll be freezing’. Suffice to say, he didn't put me off at all. I came, had a look and thought it was stunning.”

With a dwindling congregation, the church closed in 1975. It was later acquired by a graphic design agency, who transformed the building into split-level office space. Hilary bought the property when they moved on, and spruced it up.

Prioritising client experience

Sadly, not many imPRESS clients get to visit the team in Carrington Kirk because they’re mainly located in Oxford, Cambridge or elsewhere in Europe. Hilary provides the link between those clients and the US publishers she represents. Acting as a conduit between her clients in the UK and Europe, and these publishers, and doing so on a huge scale, means the client experience is crucial to Hilary and her team.

Prioritising client experience is crucial to Hampden & Co too, which is why we were delighted when Hilary chose to move across to us. “I'd been with a well-known high street bank since I was 18,” she explains. “So it was a big thing to move but it has definitely proved to be the right decision.”

Sitting at Hilary’s side is Kara Davidson, who keeps the essentials at imPRESS ticking over, and I’ve been delighted at how she reflects on the difference Hampden & Co has made. “The biggest problem with the previous bank was that we couldn't speak to anybody,” says Kara. “Hilary would phone and say ‘who is my business manager?’ and they would say ‘you haven’t got one now’. So they would give us a number to call, you’d wait in a queue forever and, if you finally got through, they didn't know who we were.”

Hilary’s husband knows our CEO, Graeme Hartop – they both grew up in Hawick. “When we read what Graeme was doing with the bank and how personalised the service was, it sounded very appealing.” She has since moved both her business and personal accounts across.

“It’s great knowing you always have the same person to speak to at Hampden & Co,” says Kara. “And they’ve recently relaunched their digital banking service which is brilliant. It's simple, it's all there – everything’s easy to download. Our accountant is much happier.”

One of the other benefits for Hilary is that Hampden & Co let her focus on what she wants to do – which currently includes handing over the business to two of her employees in a management buyout, phased over several years. “It’s time for me to start slowly easing away from the business,” she tells me with a smile. “But I’ll be hanging on to the building.”