Tag Archives: Fund Raising

LFP072 – Socially Beneficial Fintech & Personal Cashflow Management with Emanuel Andjelic co-founder of Squirrel

Squirrel’s self-description is:

a smart new way of budgeting and saving that helps you resist that temptation to spend. We work in partnership with employers, local authorities, housing associations and credit unions to bring better money management to the widest possible audience.

Squirrel’s 7,000 clients range from those on benefits to those earning more than £100k – as Emanuel puts it “there are spenders and savers” and this tendency he believes is already formed when a child is still in single digits – and hence in place later regardless of adult income levels.

In this episode though, for the main course we focus on “socially beneficial Fintech” – or in less euphemistic terms what Fintech as a whole can do for those with little money. All too often the vast majority of Fintech – for all the PC buzzword terms like “financial inclusion” ends up just being a tool for the top 1%/10%.

Recent benefit changes in the UK have led to significant problems for folks who are unemployed or underemployed and these are only going to get worse if current plans are rolled out further. In this episode Emanuel, co-founder and Chairman of Squirrel takes us on a deep dive into the economic circumstances and changes. He also talks very honestly about his own personal and significant struggles with debt.

In this show topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP070 – Fintech & the UK Mortgage Advice Market with Ishaan Malhi Founder & CEO Trussle

Trussle are the UK’s first online mortgage broker, have just raised £4.5m in a Series A and have an exclusive partnership with the FTSE listed property search giant Zoopla. So they are doing well for a two year old startup 🙂

I am joined today by founder and CEO Ishaan Malhi to discuss why this sector is so important.

As often it’s the old-fashioned and unsexy stuff that is ripe for disruption. In the case of mortgage advice though there is another astounding nanny state regulatory change that has made it even more important to have a low cost Fintech solution.

In essence (FCA summary here) in the UK if you want to keep certain legal protections (not defined but being able to complain about mis-selling appears to be one) you must take mortgage advice :-!  And this advice can be quite expensive as we shall hear.

And if you want to talk about a world orientated around the 0.1% (corrupt state?) if you are part of the 0.1% – then like taxes you don’t need to bother! Golly gosh. And if you think I exaggerate check out the FCA’s webpage in re.

So can Fintech ride to the rescue?

Well apparently it can, although what is defined as “advice” is very fluid in a world spanning old-fashioned advice and more automated Fintechs.  In LFP069 we discussed advice on your asset side of the balance sheet. In this context LFP070 is about advice on the liabilities side of your balance sheet.

Trussle’s strapline is:

The hassle-free way to get a mortgage online. We search more than 11,000 deals from 90 lenders to find the perfect mortgage for you.

Not only that but you can enter your mortgage details at the moment and they will monitor all those deals on an ongoing basis and let you know

All this and more is discussed on the show, including: Continue reading

LFP067 – Rethinking Banking: Marketplaces and App-Only Banks with Tom Blomfield CEO Monzo Bank

LFP Banner MonzoReformation or refactoring of banking is the Holy Grail of the Fintech Revolution. Do that and the revolution is a big deal. Get nowhere near and its all rather marginal. So-called challenger banks have ended up rather same-y. Will “App-only” banks end up going down the same route forced my micro-regulation and micro-supervision into the same tight mould. Or will they somehow remain within the constraints of the mould but somehow break it at the same time?

Its that paradox that faces Tom Blomfield CEO and founder of Monzo Bank. (and co-founder back in the day of GoCardless who were on the show in LFP046) A long way towards full authorisation as a bank will they become merely “me-too” or will they refactor banking as we know it?

Tom BlomfieldI have been an interested spectator on the sidelines for come time wondering which way the ball will bounce. At Lendit Europe 2016 I finally succumbed and took one of Tom’s pre-paid Mastercards – not least as which they offer wholesale exchange rates abroad and I was just off on holiday. It’s actually quite cool and more useful than expected. Certainly one gets a clear idea of what its like to feel like the business is really focusing on you as a customer-centric organisation with great design and service.

But back to the big picture – will Tom change the mould or will the mould change Tom?

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP066 – Solving Fintech’s Profitability Problem with Bob Jones CEO & Founder Blue Motor Finance

LFP Blue Motor Finance2016 is the year Fintech realised it had to aim for making a profit. Very few do and for the tiny handful that do its mostly “minimal”. Solving this problem is absolutely vital for the Fintech revolution. This is the story of a Fintech that has done just that – satisfying customers, staff and shareholders. Blue Motor Finance has gone from 12 to 100 staff, 0 to 40 people “on the road”, £0 to £200+m loans, and £0 to seven-figure profits in just two years. A phenomenal achievement, and by a firm not widely known in the broader Fintech world.

Bob-JonesSo listen up and find the real secrets of balanced Fintech success as CEO and founder Bob Jones shares how a lifetime’s lessons (having been in asset finance for over 50 yrs) has enabled him to reach these goals.

Bob has been a CEO of some big companies, many of which he turned round. An management buy-in provided a bridge from the top roles in BigCo to starting from scratch and leveraging all that experience.

So without further ado topics we discuss include: Continue reading

LFP059 – How Smart Pension got 75,000 Fintech Clients in under 2yrs with Will Wynne Co-Founder

Smart Pension London Fintech PodcastI have the pleasure to be joined today by Will Wynne MD and co-founder of Smart Pension who have had the fastest 0-60 of any Fintech that has been on the show to date and it’s a record that’s hard to beat.

Will Wynne Smart PensionHow did they do it? Listen up and all will be revealed – though if all of us can read recipe books, few of us can become master chefs like Will who previously sold millions of flowers (from knowing nothing about that business) and in his spare time raised £100m for charity.

I say “wow” more in this episode than in any other – I think you can see why…

In 2014 I hung out a lot in the Fintech startup scene. So many moths! Such a big flame! One of the insider “trick questions” in Fintech is “name a success from all the Fintech incubator/accelerator programs in London”. Actually to be honest someone did come up with one name very recently – though sadly I’ve forgotten it so will lose the game next time that question comes round.

All of which is to say that the ex-ante chances of an individual Fintech getting anywhere are roughly less than zero. And as for ideas … sigh – so many people tell me they have an idea – yes everyone has lots – there is a bigger gulf from idea to business perhaps than there is from startup to business of scale. And then a big gap from “business of scale” (which the best Fintechs have reached) to – er – what might we call it. Scrapes his memory for long-since economics lessons … of yes its coming back … yes the stage that Fintech ain’t got to yet … its … yes “a profitable business” J

So how do you win the lottery? How do you beat odds of less than zero percent of getting anywhere?

Are you interested in how to do this? Would your Fintech be better off for acquiring 75,000 clients?

Listen up and the formula for instant fame and success will be yours. Terms and conditions apply.

Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading

LFP057 – Five Reasons Corporate Governance is Essential for Fintech with Geoff Miller CEO Afaafa

AFAAFA

Geoff Miller

I have the pleasure to be joined today by Geoff Miller, CEO of Afaafa and former CEO of GLI Finance which he built from having no presence in AltFi to having over two dozen share stakes and loan agreements.

If existing FS has gone far to far in the direction of endless PC box-ticking – the porridge is too hot, then for sure in Fintech the porridge is too cold. Fintech is a long way behind grown-up FS is on corporate governance – the average Fintech board being comprised of founders & VCs/angels – little independence there.

How can Fintech get the porridge “just right”?

What are the advantages for a Fintech of a well-composed board?

A quick count on LinkedIn shows that Geoff may have been on getting on for two dozen boards.  So who better to talk about the importance of corporate governance then Geoff. As Professor John Kay said in LFP055 corporate governance may sound like a dull box-ticking exercise but it is a vital function of FS. Just look at what has happened to senior executive pay in the UK when the FS industry (now the largest holder as most of our investments are indirect) hasn’t much to vote much at board meetings. If the cat is off busy making whoopee its hardly surprising if the mice steal most of the cheese.

If you are anywhere near the Fintech scene in London (or in some other countries) you will have heard of Geoff. Geoff has always been a rare soul in terms of brutal honesty. At AltFi Europe 2015, the general tone of which was “ra-ra aren’t we wonderful” Geoff spoke of “woeful underwriting standards and hopelessly naïve CEOs”.

Geoff is an ideal guest on the London Fintech Podcast as he doesn’t just have “views and opinions” which are so prevalent amongst the so-called “thought-leader” classes   Rather he has been at many coal faces with many miners. And as with coal mining its often painful work. In LFP037 John Regan gave an excellent account of managing ones way out of business model crisis at Platform Black. GLI Finance had its own internal shuffle before Xmas bringing in new management. More recently Funding Knight went into administration and there was plenty of work for the board there.

Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading

LFP056 – “Everything You Wanted to Know About Fintech Venture Capital But Were Too Afraid To Ask” with Rob Moffat Partner at Balderton Capital

Balderton BannerI am  delighted to welcome Rob Moffat, Partner at Balderton Capital to dive into the topic of Venture Capital and Fintech.  As I aim to present London Fintech in the round I have been – for a long time – keeping my eye open for a friendly VC to have on the show. This has taken two years would you believe!

Viewed from Mars you might think this is curious given how the whole mainstream tech media is so focused on fund-raisings, so-called valuations (and fantasy animals with one horn), and the whole machismo around money.

Viewed not from Mars the VC sector globally is perhaps rather problematic. If this is a surprise to you then I recommend as an entry point Diane Mulcahy’s 2014 Harvard Business Review article Venture Capitalists get well paid to lose money. As a former VC she knows where to direct the fire – high fees, illiquidity and underperformance. As I recall in the greatest tech boom ever, in the US the aggregate stats are something like that the average VC hasn’t even returned to the investors the funds they raised, let alone got a carry cheque (the performance related fee).

Furthermore as we heard way back in LFP008 with Richard Goold the UK/European venture capital market was very thin indeed in most of the 20th Century (post-WW2 the UK basically had the (originally government) 3i as the only player for a long time) and returns were poor.

Set against this virtually every Fintech that scales needs VC money – without which there would be no boom at all.

Equally like in all industries there are always some good players with a reputation for adding value. It was such a lead that led me to Balderton Capital who are one of the real players in the London Fintech scene.

Rob MoffatRob also writes a lot on the industry – I recommend his blog – and is on the board of seven of Balderton’s investments, the best-known of which in UK Fintech are perhaps GoCardless and Nutmeg. Balderton invests around £20m per annum into Fintech.

Above and beyond this Rob is – finally – someone who is happy to talk on air about the reality of VC and Fintech. As he joined the firm in 2009 (from Google) he has experienced the Fintech world from roots through shoots and now into a rather varied garden.

There is more than plenty discussed on the show, key topics include: Continue reading

LFP053 – Innovating In P2P with Cormac Leech Co-founder Liberum Alternative Finance

LFP LiberumCormac Leech is co-founder of Liberum Alternative Finance who are a (the?) specialist strategic adviser and development partner to the UK Alternative Finance sector, focusing on online direct and marketplace lending and equity crowdfunding.

Liberum have done some $2bn of the largest P2P investment fund originations in the UK – notably P2PGI now a listed FTSE250 company. Which to make that explicit means that one of the biggest 250 listed companies in the UK purely invests in P2P. An interesting stat in itself when you hear how Fintech ain’t much from the odd naysayer.

Cormac LeechCormac is perhaps London’s best known and deepest thinker on Alternative Finance. In LFP038 Peter Renton and I discussed the highlights of Lendit 2015 – Europe’s largest P2P conference last year. We both picked out Cormac’s coruscating presentation – a little like the scene in Apocalypse now where they are on LSD under the bridge while the battle is going on. More prosaically it fitted a 3hr presentation into about 20 minutes and included everything about P2P including advice to the Bank of England as to how they should in the future use P2P assets to control the money supply.

Plenty has been happening in all directions with P2P lending and I thought it would be a great time to hear from someone who, although having an indirect stake in the success of the industry, is not the CEO of one and therefore that much more dispassionate.  Furthermore as always I aim to dive beneath all the froth and trivia and get to the deeper waters.

Plenty in this show including: Continue reading

LFP052 – The Realpolitik of Fintech Scaleup with Jon Vollemaere CEO R5FX

LFP R5FX bannerThis week I am delighted to welcome Jon Vollemaere CEO of R5FX to talk about the realpolitik of Fintech Scaleups, Asia Fintech and how relevant the “Fintech” label is and isn’t over the journey from being a Fintech Startup to Scaleup.

R5 offers a new electronic marketplace for emerging market foreign exchange (EMFX) and electronic non-deliverable forwards (eNDF) and has a prestigious single-figure millions investment from Deutsche Boerse and have offices in London and Singapore.

Jon VollemaereJon was one of the early guests on the show, entirely synchronicitously being the guest on  show number 5.

Upcoming Regulation requires Foreign Exchange (FX) trading banks to drastically change their current trading channels for the BRICS and other Emerging Market/NDF currency pairs.

Today these currencies are currently traded and fixed over a number of old, difficult to track and inefficient methods. The market is opaque and liable to imperfect price movements to the detriment of bank customers and consumers, hence regulators desire for change.

R5 is building the emerging marketplace for FX banks that not only satisfies these new legal
requirements, but also specialises in the fast growing transaction volumes in BRIC
and emerging economy currencies.

What is the journey like from startup to serious player?

What in prior and existing narratives around Fintech is BS/hype/fantasy?

What are the differences that matter at the coalface of competition for clients?

Where’s it all going?

Along with these topics we discuss: Continue reading

LFP051 – The SME Overdraft Crisis & the Fintech Solution with James Sherwin-Smith CEO Growth Street

LFP_banner Growth StreetThis week we dive deep into business overdrafts with James Sherwin-Smith CEO of Growth Street.

James Sherwin SmithIf you overdrafts sound dull consider the fact that they are the most commonly used form of financing for SMEs in the UK and that their supply has fallen by 40-50% in the past twelve months :-O

That’s enough to get politicians interested, let alone Fintechers.

 

Greg Carter one of the founders was working as a VC at Arts Alliance (the firm behind such winners as LoveFilm and Shazam). He found that many of his portfolio companies struggled to open basic overdraft facilities from banks. It was from this experience of pain that the idea for Growth Street emerged as a non-bank alternative for SMEs.

To make a definitional point to an FS guy like myself an overdraft is something which comes from a bank. And indeed banks first did business overdrafts in 1728. Only banks can offer them and thus a non-bank Fintech can’t.

However a Fintech is perfectly able to issue loans and if this is structured as a facility which you can call upon when needed to a pre-agreed limit at a defined cost – well frankly it’ll just be easier to call that an overdraft on the show.

Growth Street offer facilities up to £1/2million to UK limited companies. Applications take 15mins online with a decision in 3 days and only charge a monthly fee when the facility is being used.

Rather different from a bank what?

Amongst other things we discuss: Continue reading