back to article Co-Operative Bank today 'terminated' Capita's outsourcing contract years before it was due to expire

Co-Operative Bank is terminating its outsourcing contract with Capita years ahead of schedule and is planning to TUPE across staff to provision services in-house again, ending what at times was a fractious relationship. A six-year agreement for Capita to run the Bank's mortgage services operation was signed in 2015 worth £325m …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am shocked - absolutely blown away with disbelief - that wholesale outsourcing of a core retail banking function like mortgage operations has resulted in total failure for the retail bank that apparently can't be arsed to run its own business.

    1. unimaginative Bronze badge

      What is really amazing is that they have realized it.

      Even more amazing they have brought it in house instead of finding a different outsourcer or using a banking SaaS (yes, there are such things)

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Of course there are - bank IT systems run in a data centre, and does it really matter if it's the one over there instead of the one over here?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ex Mutual?

    All the mutuals have gone to the dogs. The Co-op is a waste of space now, their food is junk and overpriced, LV is almost gone, Nationwide is a joke that keeps trying to make a profit - why if its a mutual?

    Even John Lewis, which was supposed to be run by its employees is a total disaster and rips off its own staff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ex Mutual?

      Almost all mutuals and not-for-profit concerns need to make profits. ie Take in more money than they spend. Any surplus goes into reserves - 1 year's turnover is the usual metric for charities and the like - and to pay for strategic investments. John Lewis for example doesn't borrow to pay for new shops and warehouses. It buys them with cash. Well-run mutuals avoid borrowing because the members have to pay those debts if the business goes bust.

      The key difference between mutuals and regular companies is their profits don't get paid out to shareholders as dividends. Though mutual insurers and pension companies do distribute their profits to with-profit policy holders. They also use their reserves to smooth out these pay-outs over the peaks and troughs of the usual business cycle. Limited companies can't do that because they have a statutory duty to maximise shareholder return - in dividends and the share price.

      Mutuals should provide better prices and services, all things being equal, because they're not under pressure to make money for shareholders. On the other hand, membership apathy means clueless idiots like Paul Flowers (the Crystal Methodist) can find a cosy sinecure on the board.

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: Ex Mutual?

        > because they have a statutory duty to maximise shareholder return - in dividends and the share price

        I don't think so. Businesses all have reserves to deal with cashflow problems. Share price is just "the price the last person bought a share at", it's not something that businesses pump money into at the expense of knowing where next month's salary run is coming from.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ex Mutual?

          Clearly, a company that can't meet its payroll won't have the money to spare for boosting the share price.

          Sometimes share valuations are beyond silly: how much is Tesla worth compared to GM or Toyota? Aside from these outliers, share prices are generally based on a company's balance sheet and how its business is impacted by long-/short-term external factors. It's a normal part of business for a company to improve its balance sheet by buying and selling assets, paying off debt, cutting spending, etc. Many companies also have share buy-back schemes which increase/distort the value of their shares because there are fewer shares which now have a slighly bigger fraction of the company's unchanged value.

          Of course companies have reserves to handle cashflow issues or whatever. But when those reserves get too big, shareholders can and do exert pressure to get that dosh returned to them.

      2. Snowy Silver badge

        Re: Ex Mutual?

        <quote> Limited companies can't do that because they have a statutory duty to maximise shareholder return - in dividends and the share price.<quote>

        The law does not say that.

        This is the law, from the Companies Act 2006:

        172: Duty to promote the success of the company

        (1)A director of a company must act in the way he considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole, and in doing so have regard (amongst other matters) to–

        (a)the likely consequences of any decision in the long term,

        (b)the interests of the company's employees,

        (c)the need to foster the company's business relationships with suppliers, customers and others,

        (d)the impact of the company's operations on the community and the environment,

        (e)the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct, and

        (f)the need to act fairly as between members of the company.

        (2)Where or to the extent that the purposes of the company consist of or include purposes other than the benefit of its members, subsection (1) has effect as if the reference to promoting the success of the company for the benefit of its members were to achieving those purposes.

        (3)The duty imposed by this section has effect subject to any enactment or rule of law requiring directors, in certain circumstances, to consider or act in the interests of creditors of the company.

        So, where does it say that profit maximisation has to be the object of the company? Quite clearly it doesn't.

        Sure, 'success of the company for the benefit of its members' clearly implies a duty to generate profit, or at least a positive cash flow, but maximise it? No way! This is at best a constrained requirement, as is clear from sub-paragraphs a to f.

        So what is abundantly clear is that in UK law there is:

        a) No duty to maximise profit

        b) No duty to minimise tax bills

        c) A duty to exercise judgement.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ex Mutual?

          That duty to "promote the success of the company" generally means maximising the returns for shareholders: ie dividends and increases in share price. What else could be the definition of success?

          1. unimaginative Bronze badge

            Re: Ex Mutual?

            The point is the long list of exception: impact on the wider community, employes, relationships with customers, long term impact and any purposes other than profit (I assume specified in articles or similar).

            In the case of mutuals members interests will be good service and prices, rather than profit.

          2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Ex Mutual?

            "What else could be the definition of success?"

            I think posting AC meant you couldn't use the joke icon.

          3. Our Lord and Savior Rahl

            Re: Ex Mutual?

            I had to write a whole assignment on the different forms of this for my degree - shareholder returns is often the one that's focused on because it's easy and tangible and you can say "look, I did the best by the business because I made eleventy bajillion quid profit for the shareholders" whereas it's much more difficult to quantify things like reputation, minimizing environmental impact etc.

            But just because everyone does something a specific way doesn't mean that's the only (or even correct) way to do it.

          4. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Ex Mutual?

            Maintaining a functioning business is a success, providing good value high quality services and products to customers is a success, keeping staff in employment is a success, being a responsible contributor to the local economy and culture is a success, managing positive cashflow is a success.

            Where does share price come into that? Where do dividends come into that?

            Indeed, I am part owner of a company that's never made a profit, never issued a dividend, is approximately worthless and yet is successful, continually doing the things I want it to do. Money isn't everything, and the law understands this.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ex Mutual?

          My favourite part, without a doubt:

          A director of a company must act in the way he considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole

          Grabs popcorn and awaits the legal test

        3. Jonathon Green

          Re: Ex Mutual?

          …and yet so many businesses still frame everything in terms of “maximising shareholder value”[1] and reference “fiduciary duty’s to shareholders” as justification for driving down costs to the detriment of employees, smaller suppliers, and the wider communities they exist within.

          Funny that…

          [1] In fact “We work to increase shareholder value” replaced a whole lot of more altruistic, socially responsible stuff as the official statement of values at one company I worked at some te ago…

    2. ducatis'r us

      Re: Ex Mutual?

      The Co-op bank is not a mutual and has no connection either to the stores (or the undertakers).

      1. Peter D

        Re: Ex Mutual?

        The Co-operative Bank had to be separated from the Co-operative Society when it's losses piled up. It didn't help that the head of the bank wasn't qualified to be a banker and was, in fact, a Methodist minister with a methamphetamine habit.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ex Mutual?

      > Nationwide is a joke that keeps trying to make a profit - why if its a mutual?

      Because mutual status means that they are not allowed to make a loss. If they do then the regulator can order them to be taken over.

  3. sitta_europea Silver badge

    You have accountants to thank for all this.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      I had a friend (RIP) who was a professor of accountancy. His opinion of accountants was that every single one of them has forgotten what accountancy is for, and that the lot of them should be fired... from a large howitzer. He was very big on business ethics, something that and I agreed was an oxymoron, but something to strive for. Business is about much more than making money.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the co op used Capita when they were not making a profit, but now that they are...

    I have 2 co ops near to where I live. They are newish buildings and neither of them have windows. Even prison cells have windows

    1. Muscleguy

      Re: So

      Many supermarkets don’t have windows. The local big Sainsbury’s only has them beside the cafe. Our local Coop was originally a Safeway so they cannot be held responsible for the lack of windows.

      1. Our Lord and Savior Rahl

        Re: So

        Different Co-Op - confusingly they're unrelated.

  5. Muscleguy

    Coop’s site is pants

    I have a Coop CC. I can never get into the site. I recently rang them first off without bothering to frustrate myself. They reset my account, I got in set it up, recorded what I needed to. Then four days later I needed to get in again. I get to input the texted number. I do that, I am not cross eyed. It then says something went wrong.

    I can get into both my bank here and in NZ and my new zero % card (being paid off) with someone else just fine. The Coop is the ONLY site I have this problem with. I answered my query by putting my card in an ATM and getting a balance, amount subtracted from my credit limit told me what I needed to pay to zero it.

    When I have paid the Zero card off I shall ring Coop and tell them I no longer want their card since their IT stinks.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Coop’s site is pants

      I've been with them over 10 years, and it's just got progressively worse.

      They "upgraded" their website from the old one, and it's been a bag of shite. The old one looked like something from 1995 but it worked. Now though it's hard to get in to, if you can get in at all.

      I do most of the banking I need to do via the app, which helpfully tells me it'll be down for maintenance nearly every weekend.

      Like you I've got ties to them for the time being. But I more or less do most of my banking with another bank now. It's sad, because the bank has turned to shite since the vulture funds took over.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Coop’s site is pants

        re: "The old one looked like something from 1995"

        It was 1999 as it happens - but underpinned by a mainframe banking system mostly written in the early 70s, with some bits older than that.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Coop’s site is pants

      I started a Co-op account before they had to de-mutualise (I'd get dividends for taking cashback at the local co-op store!). They then closed down the local branch and I never managed to get the online banking working so I ended up travelling 60 miles to the nearest branch and spent an hour in their setting up on-line banking. I returned home to find the online banking I'd set up just wouldnt work and despite numerous phone calls it never worked. They'd ask security questions that I'd never given answers to! I'd several other bank accounts so I used those and then one day I just though sod it I'll see if I can close the account so rang up and gave them a few details and they transferred a very large wedge of money to an account with the same name in a different bank but without any security questions. I dont think I've come across anything quite so shit in a long time.

  6. colin79666

    Why outsourcing?

    Coop must share some of the responsibility for the issues. Too many organisations fail to invest and then expect “transformation” by making it someone else’s problem (outsourcing). Guess what? The outsourcing company sales people told you it would all be wonderful but the reality is they need to do it even cheaper than you in order for them to profit. This is often by sticking rigidity to the contract you signed, charging stupid fees for anything extra and not replacing staff as they leave (usually the good ones go quickly).

    Outsourcing of boring business functions like HR and Payroll can make sense but a bank outsourcing a core banking function was never going to end well!

    1. R Soul Silver badge

      Re: Why outsourcing?

      Outsourcing to Crapita guaranteesan epic fail, no matter what gets outsourced.

  7. Ian Mason

    Co-Operative Bank clearly wants to leave on good terms, saying that working with Capita had been a "positive experience" and "we'd explore opportunities to work with them again in the future."

    I think someone missed the soto-voce end of that sentence ", when hell freezes over."

    1. Rob Daglish

      So if it’s such a “positive experience” that they’d look forward to work with them again, why are they stopping it early, with all the headaches and on-costs that this is no doubt going to cause?

      1. Our Lord and Savior Rahl

        Because they're levelling up to build back better and leverage world aspirations as part of Global Britain to turbocharge their UX.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        I think if they dont say something nice Crapita may sue them into oblivion.

        1. R Soul Silver badge

          If coop had said something nice, Crapita could well sue them because it's defamatory and untrue.

  8. localzuk Silver badge


    The Cooperative Bank is not part of the same group as the shops any more Co-op group sold their last 20% stake in 2017 IIRC.

  9. mark4155

    Bullshit Korner.

    The CO-OP (former slogan "Good With Money" - till their CEO was caught short) and CRAPITA the chief bullshitters of all time.

    They get together, pat each other on the back (with a sharp bladed instrument), I can smell the shit from where I live, Manchester CO-OP HQ is a mere mile downwind today.

    Shameful behaviour of the CO-OP. Stick to what you do best and operate corner shops.

    Though even then you would probably get Crapita to design your POS system.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like