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Peer to Peer CEO of the Year

FOLK2FOLK

Last year, Folk2Folk won three awards at the Peer2Peer Finance Awards; Business Lender of the Year, Ethical Lender of the Year, and Roy Warren, managing director of Folk2Folk, won the coveted CEO of the Year award. Alternative Credit Investor sat down with Roy to learn more about his career to date and what it takes to be an award-winning peer to peer lender.

Where did you spend your career pre-Folk2Folk? 

The entirety of my career has been spent in financial services. Prior to Folk2Folk, I spent 22 years at RBS as their head of structured asset finance. In 2008 during the financial crisis, I devised a strategy to sell down and optimise a book for £14bn which was quite a feat at the time and gave me the opportunity to flex my strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. I have always been someone who is determined to find solutions – it’s in my nature. I believe there is an answer to every problem, it’s just a matter of finding it.

What strengths do you think you’ve brought to Folk2Folk?

A very high sensitivity to risk. We continuously seek to stay ahead of the wave by keeping abreast of sector issues, property values and the wider performance of the economy, and we have an internal risk culture of ‘no surprises’ by maintaining regular dialogue with our borrowers. Keeping in touch with our borrowers is key to the monitoring and controlling of our portfolio, and acts as a form of early warning system.

Given your background in banking, what attracted you to P2P lending?

When I left RBS I didn’t want to continue within the inflexibility of mainstream banking. It was the culture of Folk2Folk that intrigued me – integrity and honesty are values that are important to me and they were demonstrated very clearly within the company. But also, the fact P2P lending is a different way of doing things – it is, after all, alternative finance. Being a young industry, it presents a blank canvas, and I could see the exciting opportunity it presents to do something new and different.

What are you most proud of at Folk2Folk?

I’m most proud of our team and think we have some great talents. They really care, and without exception will always go the extra mile for our Investors.

I’m also proud of the stability and profitability of our platform. We’re now into our fifth year of profitability and it’s a good thing for our customers and staff that we’re a robust platform that can weather storms.

What are your plans for the future of Folk2Folk?

To grow the book. We’re always open to discussions about acquiring another loan book.

What opportunity do you think peer to peer lending offers retail investors?

We’ve witnessed a mass exodus of P2P lenders from the retail investing space but we’re here to remain and genuinely feel retail investors would be missing out on a great opportunity if P2P investing wasn’t available to them any longer. By investing into local businesses via Folk2Folk, investors can contribute to their regional economy and help improve the British economic situation. By helping others, they also help themselves earn an attractive return on their capital and our investors recognise this as a win-win.

What are your views on the UK P2P market in 2024? Do you see any new opportunities emerging?

I think the opportunity is within the retail investment space. The power that sits in the hands of retail investors is significant and there is huge opportunity for them to make a significant and positive impact to our economy.

This article was initially published by Alternative Credit Investor in March 2024 and can be viewed here.

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