- Tell us about Shawbrook Bank? Why did you decide to join?
I joined Shawbrook in 2017 when the consumer lending business was just getting started and ramping up. Shawbrook Bank is a specialist bank in nature and exists to reach markets that are potentially underserved by the major high street banks. We are made up of several different divisions: business finance, consumer lending, property and savings.
What attracted me to Shawbrook and this job was its desire to challenge the conventional approach to lending and to do the right thing by its customers, and the ambition and scope it had for growth. Shawbrook Bank is also diverse and culturally it promotes an environment where you can grow, challenge things and learn.
- How has the current situation changed working habits, either on a personal or industry level? How has the industry been affected?
Well the most obvious outcome is the transition between working in the office to working from home. Initially this was a challenge because although we have the option to work from home a few days a week, I enjoy coming to the office and seeing my colleagues and I tend to work better in that environment.
After a few months, this has become the new normal and although I would prefer to be in the office, I have adapted to the change. Industry-wise, the pandemic has had a big effect and in some cases lenders had to completely retract from the market. As we pass through the peak and out of lockdown, we’re seeing some positive signs in the market, and it should recover in time.
The most important thing to bear in mind when it comes to this industry is lending responsibly and to help customers to borrow where they can comfortably afford to do so, because if it’s not good for them, it won’t be good for us.
- Once lockdown is over, what do you think will change/what will stay the same?
I think Open Banking will have a big impact on how we lend and revolutionise the industry. Transactional data gives you near real-time information on an individual’s spending habits and their income versus their expenses.
We need this data now more than ever to lend responsibly. This is especially true in a climate where, as a result of the pandemic, there are so many potential macro factors that could impact individuals and their finances, for example furlough and unemployment.
- What positives on a personal/industry level have you taken from the experience?
On a personal level, my ability to adapt to change and be agile is one of the things that I’ll take away. Technology like Zoom has helped with communication and keeping in touch with people, which is a trend I think will continue as we move out of this experience.
At an industry level, I feel most lenders will learn to embrace Open Banking and integrate it into part of their process so they can make better lending decisions. And for customers it should also be embraced, as it could offer more choice and better lending products to fit their personal needs.
- What does financial services get right in the UK? What is its biggest flaw?
Innovation is great in this space. The likes of Monzo and Starling have revolutionised the current account world and the ease with which you can manage and transfer money.
The biggest flaw in my opinion though is how some lenders advertise their products. Using a teaser rate to attract customers can be misleading and confusing because not everyone who applies will get the advertised APR.
This could end up being very costly, and potentially detrimental to managing their repayments, which in turn is not good for the lender. It’s up to lenders to educate consumers on lending and borrowing, not confuse and mislead them.
- If you could give a younger version of yourself one piece of financial advice, what would it be?
You should have started saving when you were younger and taken more of a proactive approach to your personal finances. When you’re in your early twenties, you only really start to understand that keeping on top of your finances is so important.
- What three things would you do if you were head of the FCA for the day?
- Ban using teaser rates in advertisements
- Make Open Banking compulsory for all lenders to use as part of their lending process
- Back more innovation-led projects to keep challenging the conventional approach to the way things are done.
- What is the one column or website that you read every day?
Sadly, it’s usually whatever pops up on my Google feed. Over lockdown I have tried to steer clear of reading too much in the newspapers and online as it was all quite negative but I usually keep abreast of current affairs and trending topics when time allows.
- What would you do if you received a windfall of £10,000?
I would spend it on a holiday of a lifetime – I love doing new things and going new places so this would be an ideal way for me to spend the money…and get some sun!