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In Profile: Robert Schuijff, CEO of etika

The world of finance can be a ruthless place at times, for consumers and businesses alike. With the primary aim of enabling financial inclusion and becoming a tool for financial well-being, etika aims to make a positive difference to support individuals in the UK, and beyond.

Robert Schuijff is a renowned tech leader with a mission to make a positive difference in the world of finance. With operations in Australia and the UK, fairer finance provider etika is improving access to affordable lending with its unique business model of being both a platform provider and a finance provider.

Under Robert’s leadership, etika has become a stand-out finance pioneer, striking the right balance between agile tech innovation and people-focused ethical lending principles.

In this week’s In Profile, Schuijff reveals the impact etika has already had in the world of finance, his journey prior to joining the company, and his ambitions for the future.

Robert Schuijff, CEO of etika
Robert Schuijff, CEO of etika
Tell us more about your company and its purpose

etika is disrupting the finance market as a purpose-driven, people-first finance pioneer offering affordable finance. Founded in 2012 by a group of tech entrepreneurs, etika occupies a unique position in the market as both a lender and a proprietary platform provider. We have since expanded and now serve a wide range of merchants, spanning healthcare, DIY, home furnishing, consumer goods and lifestyle brands.

Our vision is to help create a balanced financial ecosystem. The name etika actually means ‘ethical’ in several languages and that’s exactly what it wants to bring to finance – a responsible and fair approach to lending money. Ultimately, we want to make a positive impact in the world of finance, enable financial inclusion and become a tool for financial well-being. To do this, we put consumers at the heart of everything we do, and we only build partnerships with like-minded businesses align with our ethical values.

What are some of your recent achievements you’d like to highlight?

I am incredibly proud of the positive impact that etika is having on the finance industry, and the results speak for themselves: in the UK 92 per cent of customers had an improved credit rating after working with etika, and in 2022 we achieved loan origination growth of 150 per cent, which is set to double in 2024.

Another milestone to highlight here is that we were the first provider to launch agreements in principle in November 2020, meaning that merchants can extend their offering to a wider and more viable customer base with more flexible terms. The success of etika’s solutions show how we’re meeting market demand for more payment choice and convenience.

How did you get into the fintech industry?

Having spent most of my career in software services and business intelligence, for the two leading companies in the world, I built up a wealth of knowledge early in my career related to management, sales, and the best strategies for business development.

Given my background, it is clear to me that everything revolves around data – with banks and companies alike using data to analyse risk or to analyse people’s buying behaviours. I recognised that my experience in the data analytics industry, combined with the knowledge I had built on business intelligence, would be invaluable in the fintech industry, and when the opportunity to join etika appeared, I knew it was a business where I could put my skills and knowledge into meaningful action.

What’s the best thing about working in the fintech industry?

There are a lot of positive and innovative technologies being developed in the fintech industry, and it is inspiring to see the difference they can make to our world. At etika, we’re proud to say that we’re different from other finance companies because we are very focused on making sure that the finance we provide is fair and we are transparent about what our terms and conditions are. We also focus on particular business segments that have a positive impact, and we offer finance to people who might find it hard to access traditional credit.

What frustrates you most about the fintech industry?

There is a need for continual awareness and education so that consumers and businesses have the right information in front of them before signing up to finance agreements, particularly as regulations impact the sector more widely.

As a purpose-driven finance provider that has always been committed to offering fair and transparent finance, etika has long called for more clarity – consumers should not have to wade through complicated and confusing jargon in the terms and conditions of their agreements. We want to empower our customers to enhance their financial well-being, to make considered, informed purchases based on their affordability profiles. We welcome any improvement to regulation that protects consumers and businesses and strengthens the health of the sector as a whole.

How have your previous roles influenced your career? 

I’ve been very lucky in my career to work with some great companies for long periods of time, as well as for shorter-term projects across an array of sectors. These experiences have provided me with a well-rounded view of what I now look for and expect from a company, and they are what led me to join etika.

One thing I particularly enjoy about working at etika is the variety of people that I can engage with on a daily basis. I may have experience in running companies and writing strategies, but there is no way that I could succeed without the committed and passionate teams working with me, and the bright minds that surround me at all levels of the company.

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?

Very early on in my career, while I was working as a junior banker, I ignored a set hierarchical approval process and went directly to the CEO to get a sign-off on a client’s proposal. While I believed that I had done a really good job, my line manager clearly disagreed and believed that I had undermined them – I left the bank shortly afterwards.

Looking back on this event now, I can see that it was a defining moment in the type of person I am and the type of company I want to be a part of. I now know that I believe it is important to tackle things immediately and head-on, to keep things simple, to trust your staff and most importantly to recognise that underneath it all, everyone is equal.

What has the future got in store for your company?

In the years to come, etika will continue its mission of becoming a purpose-driven finance provider with the ability to serve distinct segments and varied demographics.

More specifically, along with growing our consumer finance businesses in the UK and Australia, we’re planning to introduce SME lending in Australia in the future, to give business owners access to finance on much better terms than they’ll find with mainstream banks.

We’ll also continue to build powerful partnerships with like-minded businesses aligned with our ethical values, and to support this we are already on our way to becoming a B-Corp, which will widen our services and propositions to more market segments.

What are the next key talking points or challenges for your industry as a whole?

Ultimately, etika exists to make a positive impact in the world of finance and prove that there is a better way to offer funding and finance. By being transparent and using technology to focus on things that will get us there, I have no doubt that we will be successful in this vision.


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