Behind the Idea Europe Lending

Behind the Idea: LendInvest

The challenge of moving all of its staff to remote working in March 2020 was a complex one for many in the fintech industry. However, LendInvest, a UK non-bank mortgage lender, was able to transition to remote working overnight and remain open for business due to its cloud-based infrastructure. 

Not only did this prove vital for its existing customers, but also provided support for new borrowers at a time of great uncertainty. The pandemic certainly presented some obstacles but it took these as opportunities to seek new and improved solutions for our customers –  with valuers unable to access properties for a prolonged period, the team worked quickly to develop a desktop valuation product, becoming one of the first specialist lenders to do so.  

Christian Faes, executive chairman and co-founder of LendInvest
Christian Faes, executive chairman and co-founder of LendInvest

Christian Faes, executive chairman and co-founder, 2008, Faes co-founded the business with Ian Thomas. Faes is a keen advocate for the fintech sector, and sits on the Government’s Fintech Delivery Panel; he also founded and chairs the Fintech Founder group.

What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?

I think that companies are starting to embrace financial technology, and this is probably being driven by consumers. We’re all used to ordering our food, taxis and pretty much whatever we want online and with our mobile phones or tablets – and so consumers now are starting to expect that sort of convenience in all areas of their lives, and this includes how they interact with and manage their money.

How has this changed over the past few years?

Covid has seen a huge acceleration of the trend towards people embracing technology. People who went regularly into a bank branch prior to covid, are probably now interacting with their bank online – and many people are probably wondering what they ever really need their banks for. I believe that the rise in popularity of fintech services and the increasing number of fintech companies coming to market has shown that, in many respects the banks are the utilities that hold your money, but if you want to borrow, invest, or anything additional to that, then a traditional bank is probably the last place you go to for any sort of tech-enabled service.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

Covid forced our company online and to communicate amongst the team remotely, which I think we did incredibly well. However, you can’t beat the true collaboration that comes from having a group of people in the same room together – and we are now seeing people wanting to come back. LendInvest has a great culture, where we definitely work hard and play hard. One of our company values is that ‘we’re playing to win’, and so we want to ensure that people have the right balance in their lives i.e. through working from home if they need to, but also are brought together physically to deliver on our ambitions as a business and to enjoy our fantastic team environment.

What fintech ideas have been implemented?

We were the first mortgage lender to use open banking in the UK. We feel that this has revolutionised the customer experience of interacting with LendInvest – this technology is a game-changer in the mortgage market in terms of speeding up and simplifying previously lengthy processes. This has also been a massive benefit for our business as it has driven serious efficiencies.

What benefits have these brought?

Prior to open banking, we, like pretty much every other lender still does, would require borrowers to provide PDF’s of their bank statements. Now with open banking, a customer will get a link on their mobile phone and we will be able to pull the data that we need directly from their bank account. It will take a matter of seconds, be a far easier and more convenient experience for the borrower – and then for us, the processing time to assess this data has gone from about 45 minutes (prior to open banking) to now being something like five minutes. It’s no wonder that we lend the volumes we do with only c200 people in the business, when competitors doing similar volumes to us have over 1000 people. We are a technology-driven machine, and this is just the tip of the iceberg of what we have developed and are continuing to build.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

There are plenty. Market volatility, interest rates rising, other covid mutations, market blow-ups hurting sentiment etc…  it also remains an extremely competitive market for talent, and so companies will continue to have to work to ensure that they can attract and retain the best people in the market in order to continue to be leaders and at the forefront of innovation. At LendInvest we work incredibly hard to make it a great place to work, from culture to compensation, and to have a wholly inclusive and fast-paced environment for people – so that the people that thrive on solving challenges and moving at pace, are attracted to come and work with us.

Can these challenges be aided by fintech?

Our offerings, like many other fintech offerings, will be increasingly relevant in an increasingly complicated world and economy that requires simple but effective solutions. I am truly passionate about the world of fintech and the brilliant people within it and I would very much encourage those considering a role in the field.

Author

  • Francis is a journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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