Case Study

OakNorth

OakNorth is a UK fintech business focused on redefining lending to small-to-medium sized businesses globally using its next-generation credit platform.

The platform is used by a number of banks around the world, including OakNorth Bank which provides business and property loans to small and medium sized businesses and high net worth individuals. The bank received a full banking licence in 2015 and offers loans between £500,000 and £45m. 

We spoke to Amir Nooriala, chief strategy officer at OakNorth, about the bank's growth plans and the attractions of the UK market.

What does your company do?

“OakNorth is Europe’s fastest-growing fintech by assets, profits and revenue. Our mission is to redefine lending to small-to-medium sized businesses using our next-generation credit platform.

The platform allows financial institutions to dramatically improve and accelerate their credit decisioning and monitoring capabilities, combining internal and third-party data to create a forward-looking, in-depth view of companies and deliver bespoke solutions that meet clients’ needs.

We have successfully used the platform to build a licensed bank in the UK – OakNorth Bank – which has lent over £3bn to SMEs since its launch in 2015 profitably and with over £600m of repayments. The bank also offers a range of savings products to individuals and businesses, as well as mortgages to business owners and people with a-typical sources of income.

Since its inception in 2015, OakNorth has secured over $1bn from leading investors, including: Clermont Group, Coltrane, EDBI of Singapore, GIC, Indiabulls, NIBC, Toscafund, and SoftBank’s Vision Fund.”

 

“In Manchester, there are four very strong universities with a graduate pipeline. You also have big banks who have built a pool of expert talent. Connectivity is another benefit of being in Manchester. Manchester Airport has two runways – we fly ourselves to India, New York, Singapore amongst other destinations all the time, as we also have bases there. All the boxes were ticked.”

You have significant operations in Manchester in the UK. Why did you choose to build operations there? 

“We are a London headquartered business, but when we started the business we knew we had to have a Manchester office from day one.

The bank’s Head of IT Infrastructure sits in the Manchester office alongside the Support, Risk and Client-facing functions. We also have an operations and customer service team based there, as well as a handful of lending directors who help to originate and transact deals with businesses in and around the city.

Access to talent was an important factor. In Manchester, there are four very strong universities with a graduate pipeline. You also have big banks who have built a pool of expert talent. Connectivity is another benefit of being in Manchester. Manchester Airport has two runways – we fly ourselves to India, New York, Singapore amongst other destinations all the time, as we also have bases there. All the boxes were ticked.

We’ve expanded the office over time and earlier this year, announced that we’re bolstering our regional presence with the appointment of several senior lending team members in Manchester, the Midlands and the South West.”

Why did you do this? 

“One of the features about our lending process that our borrowers greatly appreciate is the ability to discuss their finance needs directly with the Credit Committee. To ensure we can continue offering this experience whilst providing British businesses and property developers with access to customised debt finance options, we have made several senior hires in Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham – all of whom have incredibly strong regional knowledge and over a century of experience between them.”

 

“To ensure we can continue ... providing British businesses and property developers with access to customised debt finance options, we have made several senior hires in Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham.”​

What are your company's growth plans?

“We want to continue licensing our platform to banks around the world – it is currently being used by nine banks and a fund across North America, Europe and Asia who have combined assets of over $800bn between them.

In the UK, via OakNorth Bank, we will continue expanding our product suite, partnering with other fintechs to bring better products to consumers, lending to SMEs and business owners.

Globally, we’re about 520 people now across eight offices so we’re growing very quickly!”

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