As we’ve alluded to recently, it’s going to be a big twelve months at Funding Circle.
You may have read recently that Funding Circle raised $37million in October to invest partly in launching our US operation, but also to invest in expanding our UK offering into key opportunity areas, focussing mainly on expanding the types of loans we offer to our UK investors.
One such area is property finance and to help us define our offering, we are very pleased to welcome Luke Jooste to the team. Luke is a property finance specialist, bringing fifteen years of experience with him, and we’re really excited to have someone of his stature onboard with us.
Before joining Funding Circle, Luke oversaw the commercial performance of Barclays Business as their Commercial Director, of which property is a major asset component.
We spent a few minutes with Luke to hear what drew him to Funding Circle.
What’s your background?
I’m always reluctant to say (only because it shows my age), but I’ve been in financial services for 18 years, 15 of which have been in property finance. I began my banking career in 1995 after being recruited from University by one of the large South African retail banks.
I moved over to the UK as an Associate Credit Director (Real Estate) with Barclays Corporate Bank in 2008, just as the credit crunch really took hold. It was an incredible learning experience for me as I got a huge amount of insight into the heart of credit risk in the UK real estate sector. After two years in that role I moved to Barclays Business Bank as UK Head of Real Estate Finance, and for the past 12 months I’ve been the Commercial Director of Barclays Business.
It’s been a difficult time for the UK banking sector but very valuable experience for me to have. I’m now looking to bring that experience across to Funding Circle, so that we maximise opportunities while avoiding the mistakes of the past, and add real value for our borrowers and investors.
Why did Funding Circle appeal to you?
The emergence of peer-to-peer lending is probably the most exciting development in the UK financial sector at the moment. So being given the opportunity to develop a real estate finance proposition for the company that is pioneering the peer-to-peer lending movement is both an honour and a compliment for me.
It’s also incredibly exciting to move from a global corporate like Barclays to a smaller tech start-up company. I’m still struggling with not wearing a suit everyday and getting used to having table tennis in the office however! But most importantly it’s about the people. The team at Funding Circle are exceptionally talented and that was the most appealing aspect.
Why do you think it’s a good idea for Funding Circle to develop it’s property offer?
If Funding Circle is going to achieve its ambition of being a global peer-to-peer lending company, then it needs a full suite of funding product offerings. Property finance is at the core of any funding market. There is general consensus across the board that the UK real estate market is improving, and we must be able to service borrowers who need finance as well as investors that are looking to get into this popular asset class.
But we won’t be naive about how we do that and are very aware of the risks that this carries, particularly given the learnings from the 2008 property downturn. Just because it will be difficult however, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. In fact it means we should do it a lot better. As a peer-to-peer lender, Funding Circle doesn’t have the legacy in real estate finance that the banks do. I think this gives us a real advantage and look forward to enhancing lending opportunities for all of our investors.
The timing is a combination of the natural growth path of Funding Circle, a recovering property market (based on a number of metrics, not just house prices), the continued shortage of credit in the market (especially to small and medium sized property professionals) and ultimately our sheer determination to be able to offer the right suite of products and opportunities to our borrowers and investors.
Thanks Luke. That’s it for now, but we’ll be in touch with more exciting property news in the next few weeks.