Tell us about yourself? Why did you start Lendwise?
I spent 20 years in financial services before launching Lendwise in 2018 with my business partners.
Over that time, I was increasingly interested in access to higher education. Unfortunately, the incumbent loan offering from high street banks for higher education is negligible to non-existent, limiting access.
We believe that if you are smart enough to go to university, and you have shown the aptitude and the application in your studies, a lack of funding should not stop you from pursuing your dreams and getting, for example, an MBA.
That is why Lendwise exists – to help those that want to keep learning to be able to do so without burdening them with unfair loan terms.
How has the current situation changed your working habits?
As an online business, we had already implemented remote working before the lockdown, so with all the relevant tools in place enabling us to function, it’s been a seamless transition for us.
However, on the positive side, there are people who have always been professional connections but who I never really spoke often too. The lockdown has changed that as you can simply get in touch with people to check they are ok, and that closeness and connectedness will hopefully continue after this is over.
Once lockdown is over, what do you think will change in your business because of this experience?
In terms of technology, we were early adopters of video calls on Slack and Zoom, and both were commonplace for us before this, so there won’t be any changes to how we operate.
What positives have you taken from the experience on a personal level?
I have two kids and I think what I’ve really appreciated the most is far more family time, and little things like eating meals together. This just didn’t happen as much, and it’s been great to get that time back.
What does financial services get right in the UK, and where could it improve?
Innovation stands out for me. It’s a broad topic and can mean a lot of different things, but the UK as a whole really does foster innovation in financial services. If you can think of doing something you haven’t done before, the chances are someone has already enabled you to do it via an app, and that is incredibly powerful and a big plus point for the UK.
A lot of people think financial services is flawed but I don’t see it. It is forever a balancing act between people’s needs and regulatory change, and that can cause things to not run smoothly, but it’s not a negative, it’s just a fact of life.
If you could give a younger version of yourself one piece of financial advice, what would it be?
It wouldn’t have mattered, as I probably wouldn’t have taken it! On a serious note, my parents taught me early on in life that it is very important to save money, so I’ve always had that mindset. Of course it is all relative and there are people out there for whom it is difficult, but it’s a mindset thing in my opinion, whatever the amount is, get in to the habit of saving.
What three things would you do if you were head of the FCA/Treasury for a day?
In the context of COVID-19, I would have taken everything that’s been done for businesses – like the business bounce back loan scheme – and mirrored it for individuals. The pressures people are facing are extreme now, so a scheme to support people who are struggling would be helpful, especially as it seems many have been missed out by the various schemes announced so far.
What column or newspaper do you read every day?
What would you if you received a windfall of £10,000?
I would donate it all to the NHS Charities Together, which Lendwise already supports. The amazing job they have done to protect us all is truly something to behold, and they can’t be supported enough.