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P2P lender confirms new CEO, eyes growth path

Westpac’s former CFO of consumer bank and director of divisional partnerships has been confirmed as SocietyOne’s new CEO, as the marketplace lender looks to growth and a potential float.

Mark Jones, who was appointed interim CEO following the departure of Jason Yetton in July, has been confirmed as the peer-to-peer lender’s permanent chief executive officer.

The announcement came as the marketplace lender celebrated its sixth anniversary, and comes amid a push for growth in the personal loan space.

Since launching in August 2012, the lender’s investor funders have reportedly provided more than $480 million to 20,000 customers, with its loan book now totalling more than $220 million.

Speaking to Mortgage Business, Mr Jones said that while he had been working at SocietyOne since February (when he was CFO and commercial director), he was “thrilled” to be steering the lender through its growth path.

“When I came in, back in February, what we wanted to do was really refocus on growth and there was a couple of elements to that we’ve been working through.”

The first element was the establishment of a broker partnership, with the P2P lender partnering with aggregator Outsource Financial earlier this year and reportedly in conversations with other brokers groups to adopt similar partnerships.

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Mr Jones suggested that the lender aims to see up to $4 million through the broker channel by the end of this year.

Secondly, the new CEO noted that it had launched a new credit scorecard last month to “better assess the risk of customers and price accordingly”, adding that this has also helped improve originations.

Further, the SocietyOne CEO said that, in the first week of September, it will launch a new application form to “refresh the customer experience” and make it more user-friendly, which he hopes will result in “good uplift”, and it is also working with its shareholder partners News Corp and Seven West Media to roll out a new marketing campaign mid-September.

“So, with those four things combined, there has been a lot going on to make sure were well positioned for growth and to make the business successful.” 

SocietyOne could list next year

Looking ahead to the next six months, SocietyOne said that it will developing new solutions for investor funders, broadening out its broker solution and developing new strategic partnerships as well as further investment in its technology capabilities and platforms.

“With more than $60 million in committed investor funding at present, and continued interest from a number of institutions, we are in a strong position to further grow lending over the remainder of the year,” Mr Jones said.

“The next six months will be another exciting period of growth and innovation. While there is a lot of work to do, the momentum in the business is really pleasing.”

Mr Jones told Mortgage Business that the company expects to break even in the first quarter of 2019, which the CEO noted “creates opportunities for shareholder action”.

For example, speculation has been mounting that an initial public offering may be on the cards.

When asked by Mortgage Business whether the company would pursue an ASX listing next year, the new CEO said: “At the moment, working with the shareholders, we don’t have any particular plans on IPO, but it is something that gets evaluated when you get to that break-even point.”

He continued: “I think the appropriate answer is that weve been running for six years, weve just celebrated our sixth birthday and weve been through $500 million of originations. Our objective is to get to break even in the first quarter of 2019 and in getting to break even, it creates opportunities for shareholder action, whatever that might be.

“The important thing is that from a management perspective, we’re building a strong business, were building a growing business that is strong and profitable and thats our focus.”

[Related: Local P2P lender not ruling out mortgage play]

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