Life at London lending firm Zopa: An interview with chief product officer Andrew Lawson
“Hello, Andrew! Tell us a little bit about yourself.“
“I was born in Hong Kong, brought up in the UK, and currently live in Wiltshire with my wife and two daughters. I studied Industrial Economics at Nottingham University Business School where I learnt a lot, but most importantly, met my wife.
“Your role at Zopa is the chief product officer. Can you tell us what you do day-to-day?“
“I’m responsible for making sure all our products provide better value and experience to our customers compared to what they would get from a traditional bank.
“I also ensure that Zopa keeps delivering growth and returns to our investors. This means that I oversee product, marketing, pricing, credit risk, tech and performance.
“As I work across many teams within the company, I’m always looking at different approaches to make sure we truly understand our customers’ needs and combine that with our experience and ability to lend money.
“I really enjoy the variety my role gives me as it allows me to see various parts of the business in action and work alongside all different members of the Zopa team.
“We have a team of over 450 people at Zopa now. Our overall company mission is to become the best place for money in the UK.”
“What did you do before Zopa?“
“I’ve been fortunate to work in some great businesses and learn from really influential leaders as my career has developed. My career started at Capital One in the 00s, and I loved how they developed an immense culture using customer data to drive all decisions.
“I worked across UK credit cards at Capital One, and then went to Italy to launch a credit card business. It was a hugely formative time for me, learning about credit risk and the lending industry, but also gave me a real insight into problem solving.
“After Italy, I spent a year and a bit in Spain building a personal loan and car finance lending business, then I came back to the UK and joined global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
“[There], I was doing the same data driven customer centric growth, but across a broader set of industries and geographies. Having spent time [across these roles], I was really interested in what impact digital was having back in my heartland of banking.
“I then spent time with some UK high street banks and it became apparent how technology, culture - plus the organisational size and complexity - was making it so difficult for them to do anything more than ‘digital window-dressing’.
“I just couldn’t see any evidence of genuine customer led disruption. So that got me looking at who was trying to bring customer centric innovation into the sector – and that quickly led me to Zopa.”
“What is it about Zopa that motivates and excites you the most?“
“Since 2005, Zopa has been shaking up the financial services industry. We invented the peer-to-peer industry back then and have now helped over half a million people get more out of their money.
“Zopa was boldly created to help people in a way that the banking sector wasn’t; that drive is still very much alive in Zopa and is one of the most exciting things about working here.
“2019 is set to be a big year for Zopa. In December 2018, we received our banking licence with restrictions, which was a huge milestone in the company’s history.
“We’ll now be able to offer customers a unique mix of P2P and banking products; that’s something no one else can do and yet another first for Zopa.”
“Looking back on 2018, what was your biggest achievement?“
“2018 was a huge year for Zopa. Monumental achievements include lending out over £4bn, announcing our results for 2017/18 and the biggest fundraise to date of £60m.
“We also launched a hire purchase car finance product direct to the consumer, which involves cutting out the dealer and saving car buyers hundreds of pounds.
“All were great achievements that marked a fantastic year for the business and set up us up to tackle our goals and ambitions for 2019.”
“Since joining Zopa, have there been any challenges?“
“Our ambition and passion to make people feel good about money is stronger than ever. Legacy banking has misled people for too long now, and according to a survey by the FCA, only 40 per cent of UK adults have confidence in the financial services industry.
“This means that there’s a huge amount to be done to improve the UK banking experience. We’ve got a real opportunity to offer an alternative to the UK market which in itself is a huge challenge! I’ve always been a big believer that if there aren’t challenges, then we’re not pushing ourselves enough.
“With 14 years’ worth of experience, we are able to use our knowledge, experience and data to reassure customers in times of uncertainty. We believe in [transparency] at Zopa.”
“And lastly, Andrew, name your top three goals for the rest of 2019.“
“To launch our bank which enables us to bring our latest products to more customers… Make UK consumers feel good about money again through our latest offerings and listening to what our customers want, and continue building Zopa as a place where the best people come together in a great culture and have fun making that happen.”
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