The chief executive of NatWest plc has vowed to continue investing in the manufacturing sector as it faces a painful recovery from the impact of coronavirus.
Alison Rose also promised to ensure the bank kept supporting the regions outside of the capital.
Analysts have cited the West Midlands as being particularly vulnerable to the long-term effects of the pandemic due to its economy being led by the manufacturing and business tourism sectors.
The two industries have been hit particularly hard by covid-19 with factories closing down for weeks and then being restricted on working practices and shift patterns when they did reopen.
While hotels, conferences centres and live events venues across Birmingham and the wider region have seen hundreds of gigs, award ceremonies and other business events postponed or cancelled altogether.
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Ms Rose said: “The manufacturing sector is probably one of the biggest that we lend to and support.
“We have a lot of partnerships across manufacturing through our catalyst programme and partnerships with innovation to help those companies grow, bring in new innovation and technology to help them reduce their costs and increase their productivity.
“I think that trend is going to continue and I know our sector specialists are doing a lot of work around manufacturing to help.
“It’s going to be a critical part of how the economy recovers the success of that sector in particular.”
NatWest plc owns and operates household names such Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, Coutts and Ulster Bank among others.
Ms Rose was speaking to BusinessLive as the group completes the change of its name from Royal Bank of Scotland Group to NatWest plc which was first announced in February.
It was the first major decision taken by Ms Rose following her appointment in November and is being done because 80 per cent of its customers bank with the NatWest brand rather than RBS.
The move was unveiled as part of a wider plans which include creating 50,000 new businesses by 2023, helping to create 500,000 jobs, 75 per cent of which would be outside London.
Ms Rose said the bank had already done “a lot of relocating” out of London and it maintained a local relationship management regional structure across the country.
“I’m a great believer in my relationship managers being based in the area and regions they work in because they need to understand the economy and be connected into the ecosystem which is going to be even more critical,” she added.
“So we continue to shut properties in London and we have more people located outside.
“In terms of our lending, three out of every five pounds is lent outside of London and into the regions.
“So having that big local network in continuing to support local employment and coverage is critical.”
Looking ahead, she said she expected the shift towards working from home which had been brought on by covid-19 would become a long-term fixture.
“The change with the pandemic has busted a few myths – the concept of needing to be present in the office all the time is not true,” she said.
“It will give a lot more flexibility in terms of how we work, the diversity of our workforce and flexibility to manage people’s work/life balance.
“Under the social distancing rules, buildings are going to be occupied less.
“The fact I have 60,000 colleagues working from home and the bank has operated incredibly well is going to present opportunities for how people want to manage their lives and workforce going forward.”