Following our last couple of interviews where we spent some time with the credit analytics and credit assessment teams, we’re now with the Funding Circle Business Development team, headed up by Laura McMullen; Business Development Director.
The Business Development team primarily focuses on building relationships with introducers, such as accountants, business advisors and finance brokers, who are closely connected to small businesses in the UK. By offering a fast and professional service to them, they’re happy to introduce their best clients to us, helping to bring more lending opportunities to the marketplace. Our fast turnaround times for assessing applications set us apart from other lenders, ensuring we attract the very best businesses.
Day-to-day activities include:
Building and retaining relationships with our introducer base, which could mean anything from meeting them face to face, to speaking to them on the phone, to exchanging emails and helping them submit business applications to us. I’ve been told that no day is the same, as every introducer will have clients within different sectors with different needs.
Hi everyone! Wow you’re a big team. How many of you are there?
Laura M: There’s currently 9 of us, and we all look after a number of Funding Circle introducers. We have James L, Tom, Laura K, Josh, Sandeep, Jeremy, James G and Derek.
Can you tell me more about the people who typically introduce businesses to us?
Tom S: We see a whole range of people acting as introducers for Funding Circle; they could be anyone from financial brokers, to business consultants to accountants. After signing up for an introducer account on the website, we’ll arrange a call with them to find out more about the types of businesses they work with. Then they can get going and start using our system to help their business clients get funded through our platform.
What’s your goal?
Laura: We are working to make Funding Circle loans a key element of every introducer’s daily tool kit; we want to help them help even more of their business clients.
Tom: And from the investors’ point of view, we want to help bring different types of businesses to the marketplace so they can lend across lots of various industries, helping to diversify their lending.
Laura K: It’s also about providing introducers with a first rate service and giving them any support they need. If we do a good job and they trust us, we can be confident that they’ll bring quality businesses to us time and again.
Jeremy: We make sure that every introducer receives an excellent service. All introducers know they have a single point of contact; their Funding Circle manager, which I think for people who are used to dealing with multiple people at banks, is a big win.
Can you explain why what you do is important for our customers?
Derek: We fill a very valuable gap in the SME lending market, which is good for both the introducer and the business involved. We can offer a source of funding at a competitive rate that businesses may not previously have had access to. More than £370 million has been lent to businesses since 2010, which I think proves that.
James L: Yes exactly; the alternative for introducers would typically be getting a deal through a High Street bank. A lot of people I’ve spoken to have described the bank process as incredibly long-winded. Our process is so much simpler, so once introducers know they can help their clients quickly through Funding Circle, it’s a big win.
Laura K: Having relationships with these introducers also benefits investors, as a lot of the time they will have carried out their own due diligence on the business, before submitting any cases to us. They really do provide added value to loans that come onto the marketplace
So you mentioned that introducers may typically have approached a bank first to help their client. What sets us apart from them?
Josh: Every business advisor or introducer I’ve spoken to is always pleasantly surprised at the level of service we provide to them; especially how fast and simple the process is.
Sandeep: As Tom said earlier, some introducers may not be used to putting deals through to lenders. It’s really encouraging speaking to these people, and hearing how easy they find the system to use.
James L: Exactly, that’s the feedback I hear a lot. Introducers are not going to be specialist peer-to-peer finance brokers, so it’s important we educate them about peer-to-peer lending and its benefits. It’s a big part of what we do. The breadth of our loan products make it easy for us to be in a position to help a lot of their regular customers, ultimately leading to them earning more commission.
I see, so education is one of the most important roles of your job. How do you it?
Laura M: It really depends on the person, but their Funding Circle account manager is their first port of call. It could be anything from sending an initial letter or information pack, to emailing them or having a phone call. We also run seminars all over the country for introducers, which we know really helps them understand our offering.
Tom: Education is an ongoing process, so for example when we launch something new, we’ll need to speak to the introducers and explain what’s changed. A lot of the time it will be for new products we’re launching which is great, and we take on their feedback which helps shape products going forward.
Can you talk about any products in particular?
James L: Yes, we’ve been reviewing our asset finance offering, and introducers have been invaluable in giving insights into how we can make it better. We’ll be announcing further details of asset finance improvements soon.
Great, I look forward to it! Let’s move on to hear more about you all. When did you all join Funding Circle?
Laura M: I’ve worked in finance and marketing for the past 7 years and I joined Funding Circle at the start of 2012. A lot of new faces have joined since then!
Jeremy: I joined in May this year and I have a banking and leasing background. Obviously that helps, but in terms of how the companies operate, they could not be more far apart. People actually want to speak to you here which makes the job so much more enjoyable!
Josh: I worked in recruitment before, so it’s sort of similar, as I’m still speaking to people a lot. I wanted to work at a startup and every day I find myself doing things that don’t necessarily fit my job spec. But, that’s a good thing, you’re able to learn from so many different people and everyone here is so positive!
James G: I also joined in May and actually came from another peer-to-peer platform. Funding Circle is a lot further down the road though, and you really get the sense that the focus for Funding Circle is to stay for the long term; the proof is in all of the investment the company has attracted. The culture is also fabulous, people have a good time at work which is so different to other working environments!
James L: I joined in October 2012 and was number 40 in terms of employees. Before Funding Circle, I had been working with finance brokers for 8 years, and always with bank lenders. I was initially nervous about changing jobs, but was excited working with a different proposition, and thought (and still think!) there would be a possibility of Funding Circle as a lending marketplace to really change the finance landscape.
Derek: My background is asset finance, and Funding Circle is very different. Asset finance is a mature market in so many ways, and is very set in what it does. If 3% growth was achieved year-on-year, that is considered a success, whereas here we are tripling every year. Sometimes you need to take a chance on something that is still at the early stages of its journey. More importantly, I wanted to improve my Ping Pong….!
I’m not surprised. Having won Ping Pong Fight Club 2 years in a row I’d say you have a good chance of brushing up your skills here.
Let’s finish up with a few questions about you. What’s keeping you all occupied outside of work?
Derek: Cycling, rugby, cricket and socialising. I cycle around 150 miles a week with a cycling club.
Josh: I love running and training for triathlons. I probably run about 10-20 miles every weekend. I really enjoy playing sport, especially rugby.
Jeremy: Unlike these two I don’t run or cycle miles every weekend! I like football, sports, spending time with my family, gardening etc..
Laura K: I recently bought a house and just got a dog so they keep me pretty occupied!
Sandeep: I’m more of a cat person.
Haha, OK. And you two?
Laura: I’m going to a lot of hen dos at the moment; weekends away with friends are always good fun.
James L: I really enjoy sailing, and organising social events within Funding Circle..
Yes James, you’d be ‘Social Sec’ if we had one. When’s the next Breakfast Club? Thanks for your time everyone!
How can you become an introducer at Funding Circle?
It couldn’t be easier, you’ll just need to go onto the intermediaries section of our website and click join or send us an email. We have a range of information packs available to download and we’ll be in touch soon after.
Let us know what team you’d like to meet next!