The 2020 Peer2Peer Finance News Power 50 recognises the remarkable achievements of the individuals leading the growth of this sector during an extraordinary year. This list highlights the people at the top of the UK’s largest and fastest growing platforms as well as the government officials and regulators who have helped shape the sector into what it is today.
It also features lawyers, analysts, and commentators whose services have been needed more than ever this year. We give a particular mention to the top 10 most influential individuals who have made the most significant impact in 2020. This year the top 10 underwent a shake-up with a number of new entrants.
Mike Carter, head of platform lending at the industry trade body, the 36H Group, was a new entrant to the list who went straight into the top 10. The 36H Group replaces the now-defunct Peer-to-Peer Finance Association so Carter now has a key role to play in representing the voice of the industry on important matters such as policy.
Other new names on the top 10 – although not new to the Power 50 – were Abundance Investment’s Bruce Davis and Simple Crowdfunding’s Atuksha Poonwassie, who not only run successful platforms but also help to drive change through their work at the UK Crowdfunding Association.
Executives from the ‘big three’ platforms were also on the top 10, due to their undoubtable influence on the industry, as well as Assetz Capital’s Stuart Law. Outside the top 10, there are a number of new entrants, such as Charlotte Crosswell, chief executive of Innovate Finance and chair of the 36H Group.
Several rising stars were promoted into this year’s Power 50, including Mansour Bouaziz, chief executive of Elfin Market, Daniel Rajkumar, managing director of Rebuildingsociety, and Cormac Leech, chief executive of AxiaFunder.
Outside of the Power 50 list of individuals, we also note firms of influence, which include the government bodies, trade associations, law firms and academic institutions all supporting the industry’s growth, as well as the rising stars who are starting to make their mark on the P2P sector.
There are no rankings, aside from the special mention given to the top 10, so the list is compiled in alphabetical order.
Mike Carter – Head of platform lending, 36H Group
The 36H Group replaced the defunct Peer-to-Peer Finance Association earlier this year. Carter now leads the organisation, which sits within fintech trade body Innovate Finance. Members to date are Assetz Capital, CrowdProperty, Funding Circle, Lending Works, RateSetter and Zopa. Carter will aim to garner one voice among these firms to represent the sector on policy and regulatory matters. He has an investment banking background but has advised challenger brands and is currently executive chairman at The Money Platform.
Jonathan Davidson – Executive director of supervision, retail and authorisations, Financial Conduct Authority
Davidson is responsible for ensuring all authorised firms, including peer-to-peer lenders, behave. He has helped oversee new rules for the sector on marketing restrictions, appropriateness tests and transparency requirements that were introduced at the end of 2019. This year, he oversaw the launch of a more user-friendly financial services register and has been in charge of rolling out the Senior Managers and Certification Regime to ensure all individuals at regulated firms understand their roles and responsibilities.
Bruce Davis – Managing director, Abundance Investment
A pandemic may not appear to be a common time to launch a new product but Davis has helped revolutionise council funding by allowing the local authorities to finance green infrastructure projects alongside individual investors on his renewable crowd bond platform, Abundance. Warrington and West Berkshire councils have already issued £1m bonds and there are more in the pipeline. The renewables-focused platform was one of the first Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) providers and Davis is a respected lobbyist and representative of the sector, having also helped to launch Zopa and the UK Crowdfunding Association.
Lisa Jacobs – UK managing director, Funding Circle
Lisa Jacobs stepped into the shoes of Funding Circle co-founder James Meekings as UK managing director last year and has quickly established herself as an influential player in the industry. It is under her leadership in the UK that Funding Circle became the first P2P lender to be accredited under the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS). Funding Circle had facilitated a 16 per cent share of lending under the scheme as of the end of June 2020, equating to £300m of lending.
Stuart Law – Co-founder and chief executive, Assetz Capital
In a year that has seen some platforms shift purely to institutional funding, Stuart Law has steered Assetz Capital through the coronavirus crisis while keeping the platform open to retail investors through most of the pandemic. The platform managed to resume lending quickly when lockdown restrictions eased and has arranged forbearance for borrowers, while creating a new access account marketplace to maintain liquidity for investors. It was also accredited to provide CBILS finance and had yet another successful Seedrs fundraise recently, attracting more than £700,000.
Rhydian Lewis – Co-founder and chief executive, RateSetter
Rhydian Lewis set up RateSetter in 2010 with an innovative business model, enabling investors to set their own rates and pioneering the provision fund. It is set for a new innovation this year though after becoming the first UK P2P lender to be acquired by a bank. Metro Bank’s acquisition means that RateSetter will no longer be open to new P2P investors, but Lewis’ influence on the industry and stellar track record mean that he still deserves a place in the Top 10.
Keith Morgan – Former chief executive, British Business Bank
Morgan ended a seven-year tenure as chief executive of the British Business Bank (BBB) in September but it is under his leadership that the organisation has channelled funds through P2P lenders such as Funding Circle and RateSetter. He has also worked closely with the Treasury on implementing the government’s coronavirus lending support, and the BBB has accredited P2P lenders such as Funding Circle, LendingCrowd, Folk2Folk and Assetz Capital to deliver CBILS.
Gwyneth Nurse – Director of financial services, Treasury
Gwyneth Nurse has been director of financial services at the Treasury since 2015, making her the P2P lending sector’s point of access for government and policy issues. During her tenure, she has seen the launch of the IFISA and the evolution of P2P into a fully regulated industry. Nurse previously worked as deputy director of the Treasury’s banking and credit team, after heading up the assets, savings and wealth team. Before joining the Treasury, she worked for HMRC.
Atuksha Poonwassie – Managing director, Simple Crowdfunding
Poonwassie has a busy to-do list. She heads up property investment platform Simple Crowdfunding, which she is steering successfully through the pandemic while supporting the distribution of more than a million meals worldwide to vulnerable groups for food charity Go Dharmic. The platform also backed a Save Our Startups campaign ran by Crowdcube this year. Additionally, Poonwassie is a director of the UK Crowdfunding Association where she regularly engages with policymakers, regulators and government.
Natasha Wear – Chief executive, Zopa P2P
The world’s oldest P2P lender may have focused much of its efforts on launching its banking brand this year but Natasha Wear has overseen Zopa’s business in its original home of alternative consumer loans. It has continued to lend during the pandemic and has released a tool with software provider Paylink Solutions to assess customer affordability better. The platform celebrated its 15th anniversary this year while reaching the milestone of £350m of interest paid to investors. Wear is also a regular name in Innovate Finance’s Women in Fintech powerlist.
…and the rest of the best
Giles Andrews – Co-founder & board member, Zopa
Andrews helped launch Zopa as the world’s first P2P lender in 2005 and has overseen its growth since then. He was made chief executive in 2007, chairman in 2015 and retains influence as a senior board member, making him the only founding member that is still with the platform.
Amany Attia – Chief executive, ThinCats
Attia has made the list for the second year running after a busy year at the alternative lender, which has been playing an important role during the coronavirus crisis. ThinCats has been delivering much-needed loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) under CBILS and the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS).
Andrew Bailey – Governor, Bank of England
Bailey took the reins from Mark Carney at the height of the coronavirus crisis on 16 March, following four years at the helm of the FCA. His move has lost him a place in the top 10 but he still deserves a place on the Power 50 due to his influence over central bank policy and the UK economy as a whole, which in turn impacts the P2P sector.
Brian Bartaby – Co-founder & managing director, Proplend
Bartaby has built Proplend into a well-known P2P brand and is weathering the storm of the Covid-19 crisis, despite the challenges facing the commercial property sector. Although some loans have been repaid late, the lender has worked and communicated with borrowers throughout the pandemic, has used its interest reserves to protect them, continued lending and even doubled its loan queries in July.
Lee Birkett – Founder & chief executive, JustUs
Birkett has been promoted to this year’s list following his innovation during the crisis. He has been vocal in calling for the government to utilise fintechs as part of the economic recovery and aims to support the businesses left out from CBILS with his very own Small Business Interruption Loan Service.
Mansour Bouaziz – Co-founder & chief executive, Elfin Market
When Bouaziz worked at Goldman Sachs, designing pricing models for financial products, he saw how much more cheaply institutions could obtain credit compared to consumers. He launched Elfin Market with this in mind, to provide a fair and affordable alternative to credit cards, using peer-to-peer lending. The company is continuing to innovate, with a mobile app and a physical credit card coming soon.
David Bradley-Ward – Chief executive, Ablrate
Bradley-Ward has continued to grow his asset-backed lender Ablrate, which has seen its profits rise by more than a third in its latest financial year and weathered the pandemic, working with borrowers and offering payment holidays where needed. He is also targeting standardisation across platforms with blockchain based secondary market platform ASMX.
Mike Bristow – Co-founder & chief executive, CrowdProperty
Despite Covid-19, the development P2P lending platform has achieved a landmark year, repaying investors £10m since lockdown began and surpassing £80m lent to SME developers in July. That month, CrowdProperty reported that on average the platform’s last 22 projects were funded in less than a minute.
Ali Celiker – Founder & chief executive, British Pearl
British Pearl has certainly been busy, earning Celiker a place in the P2P Power 50 for the first time. The platform has put its current property portfolio up for sale to preserve values as part of its ordinary exit strategy and is currently focusing on making its property investment platform model available in other countries.
Charlotte Crosswell – Chief executive of Innovate Finance and chair of the 36H Group
Crosswell has been representing fintechs and P2P in policy issues during the crisis, claiming they should be utilised as part of the economic recovery. She also called for non-bank lenders to be included in the term funding scheme and is part of the government’s financial services advisory group where she will represent fintechs and P2P in post-Brexit trade talks.
Samir Desai – Co-founder & chief executive, Funding Circle
Desai remains a respected and influential figure in the world of P2P after growing Funding Circle to the giant P2P lender it is today. In March, he said that the business’s UK arm became profitable in the second half of 2019, with revenues rising by 16 per cent year-on-year. And this year, the platform has been busy supporting SMEs through CBILS and the bounce back loan scheme.
Christine Farnish – Chair & non-executive director, Zopa
Farnish has been helping to steer the helm at Zopa with her knowledge and experience for over two years, after serving six years as chair of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association. She has previously worked as consumer affairs director at the Financial Services Authority (the forerunner to the Financial Conduct Authority) and as managing director of public policy at Barclays. (PHOTO)
Frazer Fearnhead – Founder & chief executive, The House Crowd
Fearnhead has remained at the reins of The House Crowd since launching the bridging and development P2P lender eight years ago. This year, The House Crowd launched an auto-invest model and has so far weathered the pandemic well. In April, the platform announced its developments are heading back to normal, just one month after warning investors of possible delays.
David Genn – Chief executive, Goji
Genn has been chief executive of Goji for over a year and a half after rising through the ranks of head of software development and chief technology officer. Replacing founder Jake Wombwell-Povey, Genn has overseen the business during a period of extensive changes. Goji previously operated an investment aggregator model but has shifted its focus towards providing investment platform technology to alternative investment managers and ISA administration services.
John Goodall – Co-founder & chief executive, Landbay
Goodall has grown the specialist buy-to-let mortgage provider into the respected brand it is today. In December 2019, the lender left the retail investment space in favour of institutional funding, but Goodall is still a well-known figure in the world of P2P. More recently, Landbay has refreshed its product ranges and has launched a new application process, a Decision in Principle, to quicken its decision-making on buy-to-let loans.
Rito Haldar – Co-founder, Unbolted
Halder co-founded the P2P pawnbroker in 2014, following five years working with Barclays Treasury and two years at management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Already on to his next challenge, Haldar launched OnStep Homes this year, which enables investors to support first-time homebuyers.
Chris Hancock – Founder & chief executive, Crowd2Fund
Hancock’s P2P business lending platform prides itself on connecting investors with entrepreneurs, thus supporting the British economy. Crowd2Fund has spent the past few months preparing for an innovative relaunch of its platform, with an updated credit model and refreshed website, to scale and support businesses as part of its ‘Reboot Britain’ campaign.
Nicholas Harding – Co-founder & chief executive, Lending Works
Harding has had a tricky 2020, having implemented and extended a “normalisation period” at his P2P consumer lending platform in response to the pandemic. During the “normalisation period”, Lending Works stopped all new retail investor signups, all investments and all new loan issuances, and suspended the use of its secondary market. However, it’s not all bad news for Harding – Lending Works announced in July that it had been acquired by alternative investment manager Intriva Capital. Harding will continue to lead the firm, alongside the existing management team.
Alison Harwood – Head of London branch, Varengold Bank
German bank Varengold is building a name for itself as the go-to funding partner for peer-to-peer lending and marketplace platforms looking to scale up, and Harwood is playing a pivotal role in its efforts. In recent years, Harwood and her team in London have inked funding deals with well-known alternative lenders such as Assetz Capital and MarketFinance.
Nicola Horlick – Chief executive, Money&Co
The ‘City superwoman’ has led an illustrious career, from private equity and fund management to launching P2P lender Money&Co in 2013 and standing as a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate last December. Horlick’s platform was already lending with caution prior to the pandemic, due to concerns of a Brexit-induced economic downturn and has pivoted its focus to the niche areas of music loans and litigation loans.
Jaidev Janardana – Group chief executive, Zopa
Janardana joined Zopa in October 2014 as chief operating officer and was promoted to the top role in 2015. He has overseen the P2P consumer lending giant during a period of stratospheric growth – highlights include hitting the £5bn cumulative lending landmark, raising £140m in an equity fundraise last year and the recent roll-out of its digital bank.
Filip Karadaghi – Co-founder & chief executive, LandlordInvest
Karadaghi’s buy-to-let and bridging loan platform LandlordInvest was one of the earliest IFISA providers and has attracted a loyal following of investors. The platform expects to break even or make a small profit in 2020, despite a challenging first half of the year due to Covid-19. Since lockdown restrictions were eased, the lender has reported a huge rise in enquiries.
Narinder Khattoare – Chief executive, Kuflink
Khattoare became chief executive of the P2P property lender in 2017 and has overseen the platform during a period of strong growth. Kuflink has attracted £75m from investors in the four years since it launched and has continued to thrive during the pandemic. The platform reported net inflows of around £5m from the end of February to the start of May and had paid back over £5m of capital and interest over March and April. Going forward, the lender is looking to increase its focus on development finance.
Cormac Leech – Chief executive, AxiaFunder
Leech has made the list for the first time this year. Having previously founded Liberum Alternative Finance, where he was closely involved in raising $2m (£1.5m) for direct lending funds, he went on to launch litigation crowdfunding platform AxiaFunder. The firm focuses on the smaller end of the commercial litigation market where it believes there is a significant shortage of capital and many viable cases.
Stuart Lunn – Founder & chief executive, LendingCrowd
Lunn heads up one of Scotland’s best-known P2P lending platforms, which this year played a part in supporting businesses during the pandemic through delivering CBILS. The platform’s current loanbook stands at more than £30m and despite the crisis it has produced an average annual return of 5.68 per cent for its investors this year.
Michael Lynn – Founder & chief executive, Relendex
10 years has passed since Lynn founded the property P2P lender and there are no signs of the platform slowing down. This year, Relendex has been working on securing £100m in institutional funds and is planning to offer advice to investors and to manage their portfolios, subject to regulatory approval.
Charlotte Marsh – Managing director, ArchOver
Marsh took over the day-to-day running of the business when Angus Dent stepped down as chief executive at the end of March. During the pandemic, the P2P business lending platform focused on managing its loanbook and supporting its existing borrowers. Then in June, it reported “unprecedented” demand from retail investors as it began to start lending again.
Yann Murciano – Founder & chief executive, Blend Network
Murciano steers the helm at this P2P property development lender, which focuses on regional projects that it sees as being more profitable. The platform has really come into its own during the crisis, repaying £2.3m to lenders in June. Blend has lent out £16.8m to date, comprising 52 loans, 14 of which were during 2020.
Karteek Patel – Co-founder & chief executive, Crowdstacker
Patel heads up this P2P business lender, which was one of the industry’s earliest IFISA providers. The platform narrowed its losses in its latest annual results and is currently adapting its products and lending strategy as it monitors the impact of the pandemic.
Uma Rajah – Co-founder & chief executive, CapitalRise
Rajah has overseen year-on-year growth at the prime property lender since it launched nearly five years ago. The platform doubled its IFISA volumes from the last tax year, raised more than £1m which it will match via the future fund and has seen a significant increase in loan volumes this year despite the pandemic.
Daniel Rajkumar – Founder & managing director, Rebuildingsociety
Rajkumar’s business lending platform Rebuildingsociety is hot on technological innovations, having launched an app for investors and gained access to open banking. The new Power 50 entrant is also chief executive of the platform’s technology provider White Label Crowdfunding, which produces software for a number of crowdfunding and P2P lending platforms.
Gillian Roche-Saunders – Partner, Adempi Associates
Roche-Saunders is new to the list, having been promoted from a rising star last year, but she is experienced in the industry. She co-founded financial services regulatory consultancy Adempi Associates, having previously headed up another consultancy firm, BWB Compliance. Adempi’s services include Financial Conduct Authority authorisations and applications, training courses, regulatory change support and monitoring.
Louis Schwartz – Founder and chief executive, Loanpad
Schwartz is another promotion to the Power 50 from last year’s rising stars. The qualified lawyer founded Loanpad in 2015, offering investors inflation-busting interest through shared short-term property loans.
Jonathan Segal – Partner & head of fintech and alternative finance, Fox Williams
Segal is a respected name in this space, providing industry commentary as well as legal advice to firms across the sector. He acts for several P2P lenders on lending documentation, institutional funding lines, regulatory issues, new products and commercial contracts.
Anil Stocker – Co-founder & chief executive, MarketFinance
Stocker’s firm rebranded from MarketInvoice to MarketFinance last November, to reflect its expansion into other types of business funding products. MarketFinance has had a busy year, having gained accreditation for CBILS in May. It recently partnered with trade finance provider Ebury to help process as many applications as possible under the scheme before it comes to an end.
Andrew Turnbull – Co-founder and director, Wellesley
Turnbull oversees this well-known alternative property lender, which goes from strength to strength. Over the past few years, Wellesley has refocused its lending strategy to focus on higher-quality, larger developments. To date it has repaid more than £34m to investors, with average returns of 4.35 per cent. (PHOTO)
David Turner – Co-founder & chief executive, Invest & Fund
Turner is another new entrant to this year’s list, following a recent surge of activity at Invest & Fund. The P2P property lender unveiled the full launch of its IFISA this June, after rolling it out on a selected basis last November, and has already reported huge demand from new investors. The firm recently announced a seven-year partnership with Homes England to increase the amount of finance available to SME developers.
Roy Warren – Managing director, Folk2Folk
Warren is the third head of the rural business P2P lender in three years, but his tenure so far appears to be going well. The firm has facilitated more than £17.3m to SMEs during the lockdown and is one of just four P2P lenders accredited for CBILS.
Frank Wessely – Managing director, Quantuma
Wessely is a restructuring and insolvency specialist, with extensive experience in the peer-to-peer lending space. He and his team advise P2P lenders on managing financial risks and, when needed, how to restructure their affairs to achieve the best outcomes for their business. He is also a well-known industry commentator and has predicted that the P2P sector will prove itself during this crisis.
Andrew Whelan – Co-founder and chief executive, Sancus Group and chief executive, GLI Finance
Whelan co-founded alternative finance group Sancus in 2013 and it was acquired by Aim-listed GLI Finance in 2014. In December 2015 he also became chief executive of GLI and restructured the group to focus on two key areas: Sancus and GLI’s fintech investments arm. While the latter division has struggled of late, Sancus has expanded into bridging and development finance in recent years and its efforts have paid off. GLI’s latest annual results showed that Sancus had swung into the black, with an operating profit of £400,000.