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Peer2Peer Finance News | September 16, 2019

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Who is guiding the Big Three?

Who is guiding the Big Three?
Tim Evershed

THE PEER-TO-PEER industry is constantly evolving, and some of the bigger brand names have become permanent fixtures in the financial services landscape.

We have seen start-ups become regulated companies, online platforms apply for banking licences and now some are even preparing to float on the public markets.

The ‘big three’ P2P lenders – Zopa, Funding Circle and RateSetter – have often led the way in this process.

And as these firms have evolved, their board members – both executives and non-executive directors (NEDs) – have reflected these changes.

Here we look at the make-up of these boards and analyse the expertise and experience of the people who are guiding the big three.



The world’s oldest P2P lender is now planning to launch a bank so it is unsurprising that its board includes senior level from the mainstream banking and financial services sector.

However, as befits the first P2P finance platform, this conventional experience is mixed with a wealth of know-how in taking fintech start-ups from launch onwards.

  •  Giles Andrews, co-founder and chairman at Zopa

Andrews was part of the team that founded Zopa in 2004 before becoming chief executive in 2007 and executive chairman eight years later.

A serial entrepreneur, Andrews also founded motor retailer Caverdale and a consultancy firm that provides start-up advice and early-stage funding for new businesses.

He is also chairman of P2P platform MarketInvoice and non-executive chairman of Bethnal Green Ventures, an accelerator for start-ups using technology to make social or environmental impact.

  • Jaidev Janardana (pictured above), chief executive and executive director at Zopa

Before his appointment as Zopa’s chief executive, Janardana had spent 12 years in a variety of roles, including chief credit officer and chief marketing officer at US-headquartered financial services company Capital One.

Since taking the helm at Zopa in 2014, Janardana has overseen impressive growth in loan volumes as well as plans to form a bank and a recent swing back into profitability.

Zopa’s NEDs

Zopa’s non-executive directors (NEDs) blend heavyweight banking knowledge with a streak of financial services disruption. They include banking bigwigs such as Deutsche Bank alum Charles Birnbaum and Capital One Financial Service co-founder Nigel Morris, who both have form when it comes to supporting start-up companies with big growth potential.

On the conventional banking side Peter Herbert held a number of senior positions at Barclays, including finance director and head of strategy, and Barclaycard before moving onto GE Capital where he was chief executive officer. He can call on this vital experience as he now heads the board for Zopa’s planned bank.

Zopa’s other male NEDs bring entrepreneurial experience (Tim Levene) and investor pedigree (Philip Riese), along with risk expertise (Richard Goulding) and asset management (Kapil Wadhawan). experience.

But arguably the most interesting NED appointment is the most recent one. In April, former Peer-to-Peer Finance Association chair Christine Farnish was appointed to head up Zopa’s P2P board as part of the firm’s restructure. A highly-respected figure in the financial world, she brings a regulatory expertise which will be vital to the firm as it continues its expansion. Furthermore, the appointment of a female NED offers further proof of Zopa’s plan to go public in the near future. Publicly-listed companies are expected to have at least one in three female directors on their board by 2020.


Funding Circle

The Funding Circle board comprises the widest range of experience across different business sectors. Between them, the firm’s leadership has enjoyed stints at established companies and start-ups across the world’s of venture capital, asset management, accountancy, traditional banking, law, publishing and telecommunications.

  • Samir Desai (pictured, left), co-founder and chief executive officer at Funding Circle

Desai helped build Funding Circle from a start-up to a company that is now reportedly poised to make a £1bn debut on the London Stock Exchange. Previously a consultant at BCG and an investment executive at Olivanthe, he is responsible for driving the company’s strategy and overseeing Funding Circle operations globally.

  • Sean Glithero, chief financial officer at Funding Circle

The former chartered accountant cut his teeth at Ernst & Young before stints in telecommunications and publishing with Auto Trader. While at the latter he helped the firm undertake an IPO in 2015 and join the FTSE 250.

  • Andrew Learoyd, chairman at Funding Circle

The City veteran spent almost quarter of a century at Goldman Sachs as a research analyst and chief operating officer. He is now active as an angel investor, non-executive director and consultant to several start-up businesses and has been involved with Funding Circle from the firm’s outset.

  • Lucy Vernall, general counsel at Funding Circle

Vernall was a founding member of tech-focussed City law firm Kemp Little before she joined Funding Circle via a stint at payday lender Wonga.

Funding Circle NEDs

The appointment of the former 02 customer director and Tesco Mobile chair Cath Keers as a NED in May this year was widely interpreted as positive step towards IPO, as Funding Circle addressed the gender imbalance on its board. Keers joined five other NEDs on the board including Harry Nelis, who began his career at a Silicon Valley start-up before joining Goldman Sachs where he advised businesses on corporate finance and M&A transactions.

Other NEDs include Ed Wray who co-founded Betfair in 1999, and American bankers Bob Steel and Eric Daniels.



The senior management and three NEDs of RateSetter have a wealth of City experience between them. Their expertise is largely drawn from financial services but includes roles with top law firms and ‘big four’ accountancy firms.

  • Rhydian Lewis (pictured), founder and chief executive at RateSetter

Prior to founding RateSetter in 2010, Lewis spent six years at the financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard. He has since been awarded an OBE for innovation in financial inclusion.

  • Peter Behrens, co-founder and chief lending officer at RateSetter

The former lawyer and banker left a role as a loan originator at Laxfield Capital in 2009 to create RateSetter with Lewis.

  • Harry Russell, chief financial officer at RateSetter

Russell trained as a chartered accountant in PwC’s audit team before joining KPMG where he spent seven years in their financial and operational restructuring team working across the aerospace, automotive, health, manufacturing and retail sectors.

  • Paul Manduca, chairman and NED at RateSetter

The asset management heavyweight founded Threadneedle Asset Management in 1994. He went on to become global chief executive of Rothschild Asset Management in 1999 and European chief of Deutsche Asset Management in 2002. He currently serves as chairman of insurance giant Prudential.

RateSetter NEDs

The two remaining NEDs on the RateSetter board are Ian Boyce, who was chief executive of asset manager Schroders Asia in Hong Kong, and Jim Gunner.

Gunner is a career banker has held senior positions in the credit or risk functions in Midland Bank, HSBC (UK) and Merrill Lynch HSBC. He also represented HSBC at the British Bankers’ Association and was seconded as a consultant to the Financial Services Authority.

Read more: How the Big Three shaped P2P