28th Feb, 2018

rebuildingsociety.com Celebrates

This month marks one year since our platform received FCA authorisation. We are excited to celebrate the anniversary of our achievement, reflect on what we have accomplished, and look forward to what the future holds.

At the end of February 2017, we shared the exciting news that we had been awarded full authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority. After operating under interim permission for almost three years and dedicating over two years to the authorisation application process, the news was very well received.

Kylie Greeff, our Compliance Manager, commented: “It was a long, challenging journey to achieve FCA authorisation. I’m so proud of what the company has accomplished in the year since we were authorised, I’m excited about the future of the platform and I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the team to expand our AR network and come up with new ways to innovate in our ever-changing, fast-evolving industry.”

Since we achieved authorisation, we have enjoyed a year of highlights. We promptly announced the introduction of our Appointed Representatives initiative in May last year. “This scheme enables companies not yet authorised by the FCA to operate as authorised firms, by grandfathering the regulatory permissions of a Principal,” explains Managing Director, Daniel Rajkumar. Following the launch of this initiative, we  onboarded our first Appointed Representative, Huddle Capital in just four weeks; as we explain in our case study. The team at Huddle Capital were looking to build their loan book and secure themselves a position in the UK’s P2B lending market. As a new entrant to the market, working with us, rather than embarking on the authorisation process themselves, has enabled them to step into an increasingly competitive market quickly and efficiently.

In May 2017, we received our first visit from the FCA supervision team. This initial meeting was largely exploratory, intended to help explain how we operate in accordance with our policies. It was helpful to understand the regulators’ expectations and to align with them our interpretations of the high standards of customer protection and transparency that we are expected to uphold.

Following our consultation with the FCA, we produced a range of educational articles to help inform lenders. We also added a Key Risks section to the loan profile. It is our intention to link these Key Risks to the overall loan book performance, so that lenders can understand if an identified risk may lead to a higher default rate. Furthermore, we plan to include the Key Risks as a filter in BidPal, our auto lending feature, thereby giving lenders further control.

In August, we launched the IFISA offering, which has received widespread adoption.

In September, we were surprised to learn that a major competitor decided to disclose less information regarding the loans it lists. The extent of information that platforms are required to disclosed is still a grey area.

Looking forward to the future of our platform, we are currently working on several improvements; some short-term advancements, and others that will be incorporated on a more long-term basis. We will soon be implementing an improved loan application process and facilitating the option of using electronic bank statement transaction data to help inform a decision-in-principle. We will also be incorporating mobile usability improvements.

The FCA has yet to announce its post-implementation review, having received responses from the last consultation over 17 months ago. We look forward to this review and to complying with the requirements. Kylie recently commented on the effects of regulation in the industry in this article published online.

We are constantly working hard to improve lender returns, user experience and satisfaction on our platform. With that in mind, we are currently looking for a Compliance Coordinator to join our team, to support Kylie in the various compliance tasks related to the business. We would love to hear from you if you think you are suitable for the role.

If you are a user of our platform, we would really appreciate your feedback. We invite borrowers and brokers to fill in our user feedback survey, and lenders to complete our lender-specific survey, and thank you in advance for your collaboration.

19th Feb, 2018

Welcoming Our New Non-Executive Investment Director

Earlier this month, we announced the appointment of a new Non-Executive Investment Director, Georgina Mitchell. A finance professional with several years of experience in the industry, Georgina is the newest addition to our team.

Georgina’s background has focused predominantly on traditional finance services, investment management and stockbroking. She served as Head of Investment Services and member of the Operating Board at Redmayne Bentley for a number of years, and sees joining rebuildingsociety as a new, exciting challenge. We spoke to her to find out more.

Georgina-Mitchell-2Georgina, thank you for talking to us today. What have you been working on today that we have interrupted?

I am in the middle of preparing my presentation for the next FinTech North seminar, Women in FinTech. I’ve been asked to talk about myself: what it has been like being a woman in financial services and what lessons I’ve learned along the way. With it being about me, I’m putting together some slides of relevant but interesting images to give people something else to look at. Look out for the snake eating the alligator!

How are you enjoying working with rebuildingsociety.com so far?

It has been very exciting. As well as being asked to speak at Women in FinTech North, I’ve already been involved in some discussions about developing a new corporate relationship and I’m learning about the business all the time.

How did the opportunity and collaboration come about?

I attended a NorthInvest event with KPMG back in November and heard rebuildingsociety founder Daniel Rajkumar speak. I then learnt about FinTech North and went to the event in December, where I heard talks on the Innovative ISA and new issues of cryptocurrencies. It was a real lightbulb moment for me; they were products, services and processes that I understood well, just wrapped around different asset classes. I went to the next FinTech North event in January and got talking to Daniel. He could see that there was a lot of common ground, and it just went from there.

What will be the main focus of your role?

As a non-exec, I’m there to challenge the board and make sure they consider all the options when making strategic steps. As it’s a small business, I’ll also be involved in helping to implement that strategy, through developing corporate relationships and spreading the word about the products and services available, such as the Innovative Finance ISA.

How important do you think FinTech currently is and will prove to be in the finance world of the future?

Digital disruptors have been re-shaping the way businesses have to work in order to survive for decades now and financial services held out until the end, but the changes are here to stay. From online share dealing to peer-to-peer lending platforms, FinTech companies are delivering services that consumers are using on a daily basis, with new ideas coming up all the time. The biggest question is whether one day we’ll be able to pay for our online shopping with a cryptocurrency. I can see it happening, but not whilst the prices of currencies like Bitcoin are so volatile. To reduce volatility, you need to make it less speculative and to do that you have to normalise it, but how you go about normalising something that so few people understand is a challenge for anyone who wants to see FinTech move in that direction.

What are some of the challenges you think the evolution of FinTech will face?

I think the pace of technological change in recent times has taught us that creative ideas are not just fantasy; they can be reality. So whereas 20 years ago the challenge was to find people with the vision to invest in a new idea, that is no longer an issue. The new challenge is who their customer base is. The lack of education surrounding personal finance means that in general in our society there is a severe lack of understanding of financial services. Add a layer of technology to that and you have two massive hurdles to leap in order to find people who understand what you are trying to achieve – and understand enough to want to use the services. I know several traditional financial services professionals who could not explain what FinTech is. And, with new entrants into the same FinTech spaces, that limited pool of clients will become spread even thinner. Firms must aim to educate their potential customer base; dispel any myths and fears and keep the jargon internal.

You mentioned that at FinTech North, you’ll be speaking about your experience in the industry. Do you think there is a gender imbalance in the FinTech field? And if so, is this something you think should be addressed?

Women are under-represented in many industries, and the higher up the ladder you go, the worse it is. However, I have to say I have never felt that being female has held me back. It comes down to two things – your own personal attitude and the culture of the people you are working with.

I know someone who believes she is repeatedly overlooked in favour of men and looked down upon by all her male peers. Her response is to try and ignore them in the office by refusing to make eye contact. What she doesn’t realise is that it is this behaviour that is probably causing her to be overlooked – not the fact she is female. Whether you are going to run a marathon or target a promotion, you need to have the right attitude to succeed.

Culture is a bigger issue and one that should constantly be talked about, because it won’t happen without raising awareness. It’s a little like turning a tanker: the first push is hard, and there’s a lot of resistance, but you build momentum until you reach a tipping point and movement in the right direction becomes natural.

What are your goals for 2018?

I’m working with new asset classes so I need to get my head around those, but not just for my own benefit. I pride myself on being able to take complex information and express it in a language that the audience understands. By the end of the year I’d like to be able to successfully explain blockchain and cryptocurrencies to Homer Simpson!

Sign up for this month’s Women in FinTech (North) event here, to hear from Georgina in person this Friday.

16th Feb, 2018

FinTech North and Innovate Finance

This week is full of FinTech North news! We are very excited to announce that FinTech North has entered into a partnership agreement with Innovate Finance. The idea behind the collaboration is to support FinTech cooperation and innovation on both a regional and a national basis, throughout 2018 and beyond.

Innovate-FinanceInnovate Finance is an independent membership association that represents the UK’s global FinTech community. The non-profit was founded in 2014 and continuously works towards promoting and advancing the country’s leading position in the financial services sector. They do this by offering support to the next generation of technology-led financial service innovators.

The reciprocal affiliation between FinTech North and Innovate Finance will see both parties participate in events organised by the other. Members of Innovate Finance will speak at each of the three FinTech North conferences this year. As recently reported, they will take place in Leeds on 26th April, in Manchester on 22nd May and in Liverpool on 12th June. The company will also assist in promoting the events through promotional marketing activity.

FinTechNorthLogoFinTech North, meanwhile, will participate in the Innovate Finance Global Summit, which will take place on the 19th-20th March, during UK FinTech Week. They will also promote the event across their network in the north of the country. Delegates registering via FinTech North can benefit from a discounted registration fee for the event, which will attract speakers and delegates from across the world.

“Innovate Finance is an organisation that is synonymous with the UK’s FinTech economy and has been doing fantastic work in this field for many years, playing a key role in establishing London as a global FinTech hub.
FinTech North is proud to be partnering with Innovate Finance to help grow and encourage collaborative FinTech efforts on a regional basis, as part of the continued and increasingly accelerated evolution of the UK’s FinTech economy outside London.”
Julian Wells, Director, FinTech North

Find out more about attending the Innovate Finance Global Summit 2018 here.

15th Feb, 2018

FinTech North 2018 Conferences

Earlier this year, we announced that, following a period of consistent growth, the FinTech North initiative would be expanding.

We will now be hosting conferences in the cities of Liverpool and Manchester, in addition to the already established annual conference and monthly seminars held in Leeds. Previous speakers and participants have included members of the FCA and the Open Data Institute, as well as experts in blockchain, open banking and financial technology research, to name just a few.

It is with great excitement that we share the news that registration is now open for each of the three showcase conferences:

Leeds on 26th April at aql, as part Leeds Digital Festival

Manchester on 22nd May at Whitworth Art Gallery, in partnership with the University of Manchester

Liverpool on 12th June at ACC, as part of the International Business Festival

With each conference, we aim to attract over 200 delegates. The events will incorporate networking opportunities, keynote speeches, pitches and Q&A sessions into an informative, interactive day. More information can be found on the FinTech North website.

Relive last year’s Leeds event watching the video below, and then sign up for your closest event! Check back here for more FinTech North news and announcements, coming soon.

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