Changing of the Guard: Paul Smee Appointed New Chair of the P2PFA as Christine Farnish Steps Down

The UK Peer to Peer Finance Association (P2PFA) has announced that Paul Smee has been appointed as new Chair of the organization. Smee replaces longtime Chair Christine Farnish who is stepping down after a five-year term.

The P2PFA said the transition comes at a time when the peer to peer lending industry is experiencing record making growth having now passed £8 billion in total lending to both consumers and businesses. In 2017, P2PFA members lent in total  £2.9 billion.

Prior to joining the P2PFA, Smee was Director General of the Council of Mortgage Lenders for six years until the creation of UK Finance in July 2017. Previously, he was Director General of the Association of Independent Financial Advisors, CEO of the Association for Payment Clearing Services, and CEO of the UK Payments Council. Smee will officially step into the role 1 March 2018.

Farnish, a well recognized voice in the global online lending sector, commented on the announcement;

“When I joined the P2PFA, the sector was small and unfamiliar, but its potential was obvious. 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.”

Giles Andrews, Chairman of Zopa and Market Invoice, said that Farnish has been instrumental to the growth of the P2P lending industry. He said 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.”

When Farnish was appointed as the first independent Chair at the end of 2012, the three founding members had collectively originated just £360 million of lending, showing the growth to date. Since then the sector has become an established part of the financial services mainstream, and the P2PFA’s Operating Principles continue to lead the way in setting good practice standards.

“I am delighted to be joining the P2PFA at what is an exciting time for the sector,” said Smee. “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.”

The P2PFA was established in 2011 as a representative and self-regulatory body for debt-based peer-to-peer lending. The P2PFA seeks to inform and educate, promote high standards of business conduct, and work with policy-makers and regulators to ensure an effective regulatory regime.

P2PFA members are required to meet robust standards for the transparent, fair and orderly operation of peer-to-peer lending. The member platforms are: Crowdstacker, Folk2Folk, Funding Circle, Landbay, Lending Works, Market Invoice, ThinCats and Zopa.

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