A long-time lender to agriculture has rebranded and changed its name – but the change from Yorkshire Clydesdale Bank to Virgin Money will have little effect on its service to farming customers it has been promised.

According to its agricultural manager, Brian Richardson, the re-branded bank will remain very much part of the farming landscape. Indeed, it is gearing up to lead the drive towards a more sustainable future for British agriculture and stay true to its staunch industry support across 175 years of lending to the sector.

Speaking about the shift, Mr Richardson, said: “In terms of the nuts and bolts of the provision that we offer our customers there is very little that will change. Our relationship managers are all specialists in the field of agriculture and are all very familiar with their regions, and the Virgin Money brand won’t change that commitment.

He added that the bank’s agri-team remained unchanged: “This is a huge strength for us to take forward, plus we have a lot of new and innovative ideas supported by the re-brand.”

“For farmers, this means that the agricultural team will be very much the same people in the same areas, who will be supporting them in their aspirations and financial plans. Post-Brexit and at a time when farming is changing, we will be accompanying our customers as we have done for generations, through this period of transition and with even more momentum behind us.”

But there are many upcoming challenges for agriculture, he admitted, including shifting trade relations, frequent climate events, and evolving subsidy support. And change will come, especially for key issues such as succession planning and sustainability, he pointed out.

“Virgin Money understands these big questions as much as the day-to-day issues on the farm,” pointed out Mr Richardson. “Plus keeping up with productivity, and changing consumer trends, can be challenging for farmers.

“This is why our regional managers are crucial to delivering up to date specialised industry-leading advice and guidance, with a strong focus on funding net zero, greener farming operations, and ever changing agri-tech.

“This is a chance to consolidate and build on almost two centuries’ of experience under the Virgin Money brand. Our heritage means that the nation-wide team of sector specialists has 537 years of farming knowledge between them! This means we can really keep delivering on our commitment to farming customers: to help them build profitable and sustainable agri-businesses for the future.”

Bringing the brand and banking technology into the 21st century means Virgin Money can provide easier access to account holders, and an innovative approach to farming finance.

Looking to the future, he said: “We’ve always known how much relationship managers being on the farm really does make a difference for customers. And, as the whole farming sector steps into a new era, we’re going to be focusing on future planning, and providing the diverse streams of support that our farmers need – both digitally and face to face.”

That would mean, he said, ensuring that customers were made to feel easy about the big changes from front-facing banking, to the digital era. “But, we will still be ensuring our experts can deliver useful new tools to those in the field, such as benchmarking technology and carbon audits for farm operations.”

The bank’s agri-specialists across the country offer both localised and industry-specific advice, and they remain deeply rooted in farming and the communities that go with it, he added.

Fundamentally, though, lending to farming remains essentially unchanged in its final outcome. “At grass-roots level, it is still about making sure farmers can keep feeding the nation with great produce that we are all proud of,” he said.

“While issues around food security, local supply chains and how our place in the global market will develop are important, these should also not detract from our commitment to playing our part in ensuring a healthy living environment.”

With 175 years of financing and farming heritage, the bank’s agricultural team has accumulated unique specialist knowledge and sector-related expertise over many decades. It now represents the largest specialist business sector for Virgin Money, with a base of having a strong track-record of helping enterprises find success across the UK, pointed out Mr Richardson.