The Peer-to-Peer Finance Association has today announced that Christine Farnish (pictured) is to step down as chair after serving a five-year term at the head of the self-regulatory body. She is to be replaced by trade body veteran Paul Smee, following the P2P sector’s most successful year yet.
In 2017, peer-to-peer lenders broke previous records to lend a total of £2.9bn to consumers and businesses throughout the year. This takes the total lending for the sector up to £8bn, benefitting over 260,000 borrowers in the U.K. alone.
Paul Smee previously served as Director General of the Council of Mortgage Lenders for six years until the creation of UK Finance in July 2017, and prior to that as Director General of the Association of Independent Financial Advisors among other roles. He is due to take up his new position as chair at the P2PFA on March 1st 2018.
Commenting on his appointment, Smee said: ‘I am delighted to be joining the P2PFA at what is an exciting time for the sector.
“With all platforms now fully FCA regulated, tax reforms allowing platforms to compete on a level playing field, and consumers able to invest tax free through the Innovative Finance ISA, I look forward to helping the sector on to its next stage of growth.”
When Farnish joined the P2PFA as chair in 2012, the three founding members of the Association had collectively facilitated just £360m in lending. Today, members consist of leading members of the peer-to-peer sector, including Zopa,ThinCats,Folk2Folk,Funding Circle and Landbay to name but a few.
“When I joined the P2PFA, the sector was small and unfamiliar, but its potential was obvious,” reflected Farnish.
“Digital platforms, able to connect investors and borrowers, offer great products and services, and do this at lower cost than traditional players. Having led the P2PFA during the important early years, it is now an appropriate time to pass the baton on to someone else. I am delighted that Paul Smee will be taking up the position.”
Others in the industry have also welcomed Smee’s appointment as the peer-to-peer sector prepares for strong growth ahead.
Giles Andrews, Chairman of Zopa and fellow platform Market Invoice, said:“Christine has been instrumental in the growth of the peer-to-peer lending sector. Her extensive experience of financial services, regulatory policy and consumer affairs has been invaluable and we thank her for all her work. She leaves the Association in a strong position for the future and we look forward to taking this forward with Paul.”
John Goodall, CEO of Landbay added: “The appointment of Paul Smee marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the association. We enjoyed working with Paul during his time at the Council of Mortgage Lenders and look forward to working together again.”