Samir Desai, CEO of Funding Circle, and Giles Andrews, Executive Chairman of Zopa, have been awarded gongs in the UK’s New Year Honours list. This perfectly rounds off a massive year for the UK industry.
Desai founded Funding Circle with James Meekings and Andrew Mullinger in 2010 and is described on the list as a Peer to Peer and Financial Inclusion Innovator. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Financial Services. This award is one step below a knighthood and means that Samir can now use the letters CBE after his name.
Commenting on the accolade, Desai explained: "I am honoured to have been awarded a CBE. This honour is testament to the hard work of the Funding Circle team who have helped originate £1.25 billion of loans from thousands of investors to small businesses in the last 5 years - creating over 50,000 new jobs globally."
Andrews co-founded Zopa in 2004 with the platform launching in 2005. Giles has been a major force behind Zopa’s success ever since, switching roles from CEO to Executive Chair earlier this year. He is also described as a Peer to Peer and Financial Inclusion Innovator on the list and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to Financial Services. Giles may now use the letters OBE after his name.
In a similar way to Desai, Andrews very much sees the award as a recognition of sustained team effort, explaining: "This award is a recognition of everything the Zopa team has achieved in the last ten years. Peer-to-peer lending has grown to become a significant part of the financial services landscape and, by keeping people at its heart, it has set high standards for transparency and customer service while delivering outstanding value. Zopa has already helped over 200,000 people get that better value for their money, and we look forward to bringing peer-to-peer lending to many more in the years to come."
Andrews and Desai make up two of the five awards for services to financial services in this year’s list. No figures from the UK's high street banks feature. This stands in stark contrast to previous years, when bankers were often honoured. The strong showing by the Alternative Finance industry underlines the UK government’s commitment to the sector and the prominence that this nascent industry currently has in the minds of Westminster's policy makers.