Sandy James, 61, is manager of NatWest’s Queen Street branch in the Welsh capital and is currently the longest serving member of staff at any of the bank’s branches in Wales.
She started working for NatWest in 1974 at her home-town branch in Penarth when she was just 16. Her first jobs included printing cheque books and folding statements, yet she quickly rose through the ranks and in a distinguished career has worked in marketing, insurance and branch banking for NatWest.
She has spent the last 12 years of her career managing Wales’ biggest NatWest branch in Cardiff and in that time more than 180,000 customers have visited the branch.
“The last 45 years have flown by. I can’t believe how quickly they’ve gone,” said Sandy. “I can still remember my first day with the bank in 1974. My manager was a man called Jim Schofield and he told me I had to go to London for five days for my induction. Back then when you visited London with work you would stay with the family of a member of staff there. It’s quite surreal to think of that now.”
Today banking is very different compared to when Sandy began her career in 1974, with customers now able to use their phones to pay and check their account balances. Yet Sandy says the biggest change she has seen over the last 45 years is the relationship they have with their customers.
“When I started you processed customers, you didn’t serve them. You stood behind a screen and just processed what they needed. Today it is so much better and it’s the biggest reason I love my job so much. You get to build relationships with the people we serve and to work helping them. It’s a value that’s important to me and my staff and something we’re very proud of,” she said.
Despite her long service Sandy has no plans on retiring yet saying she loves her job too much. And it’s a passion that clearly runs in the family genes as Sandy’s daughter Emma, 30, works as a senior personal banker at the Queen Street branch following a work experience placement with NatWest when she was 16.
“My husband won’t be happy, but I’d like to work at least another five years,” said Sally. “I just love working with my staff and our customers so much.”
Adrian Aurelius, Chair of the NatWest Cymru Board, said: “We’re very proud of Sandy. She is a hugely respected member of our team and works tirelessly to help both customers and colleagues. Sandy’s level of dedication has stood with her throughout her whole career and has inspired so many of the people she has worked with.”