Meet Nick of Lending Works…
Nick Harding is the CEO and co-founder of peer-to-peer platform Lending Works. He has a degree in Computer Science from the University of Liverpool and, after graduating, worked as a Relationship Director at the Royal Bank of Scotland. He later went on to work as a Director of NFHi, where he designed investment strategies for financial markets.
It was during this time that he became frustrated with the inefficiencies of corporate banking. Inspired by advancements in tech and the fair-trade movement, Nick and his co-founder Matt decided to create a new platform that would provide a more customer-oriented approach. Recognising that all people really want from financial services is a fair deal, they came up with an idea for a platform that seamlessly connects investors with sensible borrowers in need of a personal loan, so both can get a better deal.
After 18 months of planning and building, Nick and Matt launched Lending Works in 2014, initially working out of a small office in London. Rather than focusing exclusively on profits, they aim to be fair, transparent and honest, putting the customer at the heart of everything they do. Since then, the business has rapidly expanded, reaching thousands of lenders and borrowers and winning countless customer service awards along the way.
1. Can you explain to us how the idea for your business came to you and how the whole process kicked off?
Whilst working at a big corporate bank, I became frustrated with the inefficiencies of mainstream financial institutions, and was firmly of the belief that more dynamic, customer-driven solutions to financial services had to be out there. Then I came across peer-to-peer lending, and the idea for Lending Works was born. Matt and I spent months researching the sector, with the specific aim of carving out a niche of our own. About 18 months later, we opened our doors for business, and the rest, as they say, is history.
2. What were the biggest challenges you faced when bringing the idea to market?
The sector itself was relatively unknown in the early parts of the decade. So whilst there was little doubt in my mind (and indeed those of prospective investors) about the merits of our product, the big question mark was around growth, and making it accessible to customers within the mainstream of financial services. However, the proof has been in the pudding in the years since, with P2P lending having now facilitated more than £16bn in loans in the UK, and Lending Works has played its part in that growth.
3. Where do you think good ideas come from and what inspires you?
For me, good ideas often seem to come from sub-optimal situations. Whether it’s a simple internal process, or something at a wider business level, I constantly ask myself: how can we do this better? What haven’t we thought of? I also value drawing on the expertise from our team at Lending Works, whose insights invariably help get the ball rolling on new ideas. Innovation is something which is in our DNA as a business, and we encourage ideas from all members of the team.
4. What are your company’s values and why are these things important to the business?
As mentioned above, innovation is very much at the core of what makes us successful, and underpins everything that we do. But so too does an unrelenting drive to deliver a service which genuinely puts the customer first. That isn’t just a platitude – as a peer-to-peer platform, we are quite literally a customer-driven service, and being fair to both our borrowers and our lenders is the ultimate priority. Our track record for award-winning customer service bears testament to this, and we will continue to raise the bar in this regard.
5. What is next for your Lending Works?
We’ve put a great deal of resource into establishing a reputation for fairness and dynamism, but it is the latter in particular which we will be focusing on in the coming months. We have a number of exciting projects and initiatives in the pipeline; chiefly, establishing ourselves within other forms of finance, and improving automation to deliver an even more efficient service to our customers.
6. What one piece of advice would you have for someone just starting out on their business journey or currently going through a setback?
If you believe in your business idea, have thoroughly researched it, and are fortunate enough to have the backing like I had, then hang in there – no matter how tough it gets. You can war-game scenarios, but there will always be unexpected twists and bumps in the road. Even seven years later, I still occasionally have days when I wonder if it would be easier to just go back to the corporate world! But the number of hugely-rewarding days far outweighs this. So when the going gets tough, tap into that innovation which made you an entrepreneur, and forge a new, better path to keep things moving forward.
7. What resources and tools do you use to remain productive or up-to-date on industry trends etc?
As someone who is so passionate about peer-to-peer lending, I’m subscribed to pretty much every industry publication there is! But with a background in computer science, my other core passion is tech and IT. We’ve always prided ourselves on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, and shaping better solutions – both customer-facing and internally. So this is an area in which I concentrate a lot of my research.