We are delighted to feature an interview with Andrew Jackson. Andrew is Head of Collections & Recoveries at Funding Circle, the marketplace lending platform which allows investors to lend to businesses in the UK, USA, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
How did you get into law?
I studied biology at university, and thought that it would be cool to become an environmental lawyer and work for Greenpeace. It didn’t quite work out as planned, but I spent some time trying to set up an online marketplace for pro bono work after my training contract.
How did you come to be leading the Collections and Recoveries Team at Funding Circle?
I was head-hunted through LinkedIn. A year earlier I had seen that Funding Circle had facilitated £40m of funding to small businesses. When I got the call, we had facilitated around £120m in the UK. I had not seen growth like this before, particularly in 2012/2013. After 7 interviews I was in. Our growth rate is still phenomenal – £910m has been lent to businesses in the UK and we now also facilitate loans in Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the USA.
At Funding Circle, how do you currently balance the differing needs of lenders and borrowers when it comes to loan collections and default management?
Our mission is "to build a better financial world". All our policies and procedures are geared towards this mission, and we are very clear with both lenders and borrowers about how we operate. Lenders are updated every 2-3 weeks on delinquent and defaulted loans, and we give them as much information as possible about why a borrower is delinquent, and how the borrower intends to recover. Initially borrowers find it difficult to understand that we do not write off debt, but instead we have a policy called “survival for revival” where we want borrowers to find a way through their cash flow crises and for entrepreneurs to start new businesses. It is difficult to dispute a policy that supports individuals and gives them as much time as they need to get back on their feet (without any default charges, penalty interest, or restructuring fees).
How do you think forthcoming regulation on marketplace lending will affect the way Funding Circle manages collections and default management?
The regulation will not directly affect my team. The regulation is there to ensure that client money is handled properly, that the impact of platform failure is mitigated, and that platforms are fair, clear and not misleading in their communications. As we do not lend to consumers, and we are not a short-term business lender (our loans are 6 months – 5 years), most of consumer-related debt collection legislation does not affect us. That said, even if it did we would be fine, since we have always been focussed on treating customers fairly. My team’s standards of best practice are, in my view, much higher than those required by regulations on consumer-based lending.
Your team handles all the collections and recoveries of all UK originated loans in-house, which is no mean feat. What is your secret to consistent service levels for collections and recoveries?
Simplicity of policies and procedures. Fairness to borrowers and lenders. Transparency to everyone. Frequent communication. Empowerment of individuals to make decisions. Flat and open management. “Trust but verify”. A strong belief in our culture, values and mission.
What would be your dream job if you didn’t work in finance?
A marine biologist in the Galapagos Islands.
In a movie of your life story, which actor would you like to play you?
What is your favourite holiday destination?
The Galapagos Islands.
What do you do to relax?
I love my allotment. Next year my asparagus will be ready for harvest. When you grow asparagus from seed you can’t harvest them for 3 years and then, I’m told, if you eat them within 11 minutes of cutting them out of the ground then they taste better than organic asparagus from Waitrose (which is pretty good).
What piece of advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Do not eat the third oyster at Sibilla’s 26th birthday party.