Directed by Chris Foggin, ‘Bank of Dave’ is a comedy-drama film about a local working-class millionaire, Dave Fishwick, who undertakes a quest to open a community bank for his people at Burnley. Following a countrywide financial crisis, Dave finds himself in the lending trade, loaning money to local businesses and families. As a result, he started dreaming of opening his own bank to help his community thrive in their ventures. However, Dave’s big dreams end up posing exponentially bigger complications as he takes on the Financial Regulation Board to get the first bank approval in over a century.
The film is a classic underdog story, pitching Dave as the protagonist against London’s banking institution’s Goliaths. While the story retains a feel-good quality, it depicts Dave and his community’s struggles in a realistic light, shedding significance upon some relevant real-life banking issues. For the same reason, it’s only natural for viewers to wonder if Dave Fishwick’s character is based on a real person and to what extent. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Dave Fishwick, a Businessman from Burnley
Yes, Dave Fishwick is based on a real person. As confirmed by the film’s director, Foggin, who described the project as a “true-ish story with artistic license,” ‘Bank of Dave’ is a pseudo biographical story. Within this fictionalized narrative, the film brings to the screen the real-life tale of Dave Fishwick, an English Businessman from small-town Burnley. He first got into the automobile business after dropping out of school at sixteen and becoming an apprentice builder who traded cars. However, the man soon comes up with the clever idea to start flipping automobiles with the help of garage owners. As a result, by the time his early 20s rolled around, the businessman managed to buy his own garage in 1994.
Eventually, as his business grew, Fishwick became the biggest minibus supplier across the country, earning the title of a self-made multi-millionaire. While impressive, this aspect of his professional career ends up becoming the backstory in the film, which deals with Fishwick’s successful and altruistic foray into the banking world. As depicted in the film, during the 2008-2009 recession in England, several of Fishwick’s customers who bought minibusses from his business faced complications with funds acquisition after banks turned their requests down.
Therefore, to combat the issue, the automobile seller started loaning money to his community members. “I started to lend the money, and then I thought I could help other businesses and lend to other people here. I thought it can’t be that difficult,” said Fishwick in a conversation with BBC. Thus began his mission of establishing a bank of his own in the spirit of old-fashioned local banking for his community’s benefit. However, when it comes to this ambitious endeavor, real-life Fishwick’s story diverges a bit from his on-screen counterpart. In ‘Bank of Dave,’ the narrative follows Dave and his legal consultant, Lawyer Hugh Stockwell, as the duo works toward submitting their bank application to the FRB.
As such, Dave’s battle against the banking institution and their dedication toward preventing the man from achieving his goal becomes the central storyline. Yet, in reality, Fishwick took a number of other roads on his mission to open his bank. In fact, the man’s work in the entertainment industry, a detail left out from the film, highlights a significant aspect of his professional career. From ‘Bank of Dave,’ a 2012 observational show where Fishwick attempts to open his bank in 180 days by helping out local businesses, to ‘Fighting The Fat Cats,’ Fishwick has an expansive career in television based on his banking dreams.
Therefore, a noticeable disconnect remains between the real-life Dave Fishwick and Rory Kinnear’s on-screen character. For instance, much of the plotline surrounding Dave’s contentious relationship with the FRB and the latter’s resulting strikes against the aspiring banker are all works of fiction. Nevertheless, Fishwick, who was involved in the project as a producer, maintains that the Big Banks strongly dislike him and his mission.
Consequently, we can conclude that while Dave Fishwick’s character in ‘Bank of Dave’ is based on the real-life Dave Fishwick, some discrepancies remain between the man and his on-screen counterpart.
Where Is Dave Fishwick Now?
Although the film ends with Dave’s grand success, as a Def Leppard fundraising concert brings in millions of dollars the businessman needs to start his bank, the same is a fabricated storyline that never occurred in real life. Instead, in reality, Fishwick’s story unfolds differently. Despite his efforts, Fishwick has continued to be unable to open his own UK-regulated bank. Instead, he founded a loaning business, Burnley Savings and Loans, in September 2011. The company strives to make a difference for small businesses and real people and has already loaned 30 million pounds to the community. Furthermore, profits made from this endeavor go straight to local charities.
The same also became the subject matter for his non-fiction 2012 novel, ‘Bank of Dave: How I Took On the Banks.’ “What we do is help local savers get the best interest on their money,” said Fishwick while explaining BSAL’s business model. “And then we use that money and loan it to people who can’t borrow from the high street banks – through no fault of their own, just because the other banks are not interested in lending to real people anymore.” As of now, Fishwick is still working toward getting the City regulators to approve his banking license.
For the same reason, he dedicates much of his time to lobbying for change within the banking industry at the Parliament while still continuing to help local businesses. “This is not about adding more zeroes to my net wealth,” said the businessman while discussing his anit-bonus culture business model. “After all, you can only drive one car at a time or go on one holiday at a time. Sometimes, you just have to stand up and make a difference.” Fortunately, Fishwick’s dedicated efforts have made a mark on the industry, attracting the attention of Britain’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who publicly praised the man’s work in Burnley.
Likewise, the businessman’s real influence over his community can be noticed through various businesses, such as teen Harry Dobson’s burger place Sabden Smash, which Fishwick’s company has helped fund. Thus, Fishwick, thriving in his personal life with his wife, Nicola, and children, Sarah and Connor, continues to chase after his banking passion. Although the businessman’s social media presence remains confined to his TikTok account, fans can learn more about Fishwick’s career and life through numerous interviews he partook in while promoting ‘Bank of Dave.’