Keynote Speaker

Brian Corr, Interim Director of Retail Lending, FCA

Our keynote speaker for the morning session was Brian Corr, Interim Director of Retail Lending, at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). As the financial services regulator, the FCA was able to share insights about the alternative lending sector and update delegates on current projects that are underway.

Brian took up the role of Director of Retail Lending on an interim basis in July 2021. Prior to this, he led the FCA’s Regulatory Diversity and Inclusion discussion paper, after returning from a secondment at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme as an executive consultant.  Prior to his secondment, Brian was Head of Retail Competition. In a regulatory career that started in 1997, Brian has undertaken various leadership roles in supervision across most retail sectors, authorisations, risk, quality assurance and strategic change.


Jason Wasssell, Chief Executive, CCTA

Chief Executive Jason Wassell used his speech to talk about some of the recent changes both to the CCTA and the alternative lending sector alike.

The CCTA has evolved in recent times, with the main aims now focusing on delivering insight to members, advocating on their behalf and bringing them together in a network, allowing for greater collaboration.

Like so many industries, the pandemic has had a lasting effect on our sector but there were also changes underway before the onset of Covid-19. Jason talked about the sector and how the industry looks to the future while navigating the current challenges facing the market.

Jason has over twenty years’ experience in strategy development, risk, and communications. He has increasingly focussed on risk and strategy in financial services over recent years.

He is currently Chief Executive of the Consumer Credit Trade Association which represents firms that offer alternative lending products. Jason helps firms adapt to the changing regulation of consumer credit, engaging directly with the FCA on issues of policy and supervision.

Jason’s previous experience includes work within financial services, energy and infrastructure development. Before coming to consumer credit, Jason was involved in planning around resilience issues including fuel shortages and pandemics.

James Crellin, Director, Finance Group, Walker Morris LLP 

This session focussed on some of the issues to be considered when deciding how to fund your business. Getting money out of the door to the customer is one thing, ensuring that your business is appropriately capitalised to be able to do that and grow is another.

·  Are you willing to give away an equity stake in the business?
·  What level of funding commitment are you looking for, and for how long?
·  How important is it that you retain control and ownership of the loans?
·  What’s your risk appetite?

James is a Director in the Finance Group at Walker Morris. He acts for alternative lender and financial services businesses in both the SME and regulated consumer lending spaces. Working alongside regulatory, corporate and commercial specialists in our dedicated alternative lending group, he deals with a range of requirements from raising wholesale finance, helping get products to market and loan portfolio management including forward flow and spot sale arrangements.

Cath Wohlers, LIASE Manager, England Illegal Money Lending Team

New research into illegal lending has shown it has changed over the last ten years. We looked at the impact of the pandemic, current initiatives, trends and new ways of identifying intelligence that the sector can help with. Utilising case studies of illegal lenders and victims, we examined the issues and dispelled some myths.

Cath Wohlers is the LIAISE Manager with the England Illegal Money Lending Team, where she has worked for 14 years. She oversees a team who support the victims of illegal lenders, and try to prevent people from falling into their grasp. She analyses trends in illegal lending so the team can respond and look for new ways of generating intelligence.


Understanding the alternative lending customer


Our first conference panel was about understanding who the alternative lending customer really is. We discussed how this differs by product and how customers want to be treated. The panellists also shared how they think the pandemic has changed customer behaviour.

We also discussed how recent changes to employment and the labour force have led to changes in product need. The panel explored why customers borrow in this way and how they choose to manage their finances.

Panellist biographies below.

Chief Executive Officer, Lantern

Denise is a highly respected debt collection industry specialist, with significant experience across a variety of sectors. Over the past eight years, she has held the position as CEO of Lantern, a Debt Purchaser specialising in the acquisition of identified vulnerable portfolios, with a customer base of over 3 million and growing. Denise has led Lantern to win several awards in recent years, including GOLD accreditation from both Investor In Customers and Investors in People.

She is a Fellow of the CICM, a Non-Exec Director of the CSA, Chair of the CSA’s A&R Committee and was named as one of the 20 most successful business women to watch by Insights Success and was presented with the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Women In Credit event.

Policis, Director

Anna Ellison is research director of Policis, a social and economic research firm focused on evidence-based policy development. Clients include a wide range of private sector firms and Government departments and regulators, both in the UK and overseas.

Anna is a policy strategist and consumer advocate with a particular research interest in the provision of financial services to those on low incomes, high cost credit markets and issues around access to credit, consumer protection and market regulation as these issues impact those on moderate incomes.

She has some twenty five years experience of research around consumer credit, exploring the lived experience and needs of consumers in specialist credit markets.

Sales Director, Data On Demand

Having built a career in both the Consumer and Commercial data sectors, Simon is currently part of the Exec Team at Data On Demand where his role is focused on supporting the business to grow its Alternative UK Consumer Data services across new and existing markets with a focus on Financial Services.

Prior to Data On Demand, Simon spent seven years with Credit Reference Agency Transunion UK (previously Callcredit) as part of the leadership team for their Alternative Lending & Fintech division.

Outside of work Simon is an avid Manchester City fan, fair weather cyclist and thoroughly average golfer.

Markets & Consumer Insights Manager, Fair4All Finance

Niall joined Fair4All Finance in 2021, having previously anchored Carnegie’s affordable credit work from 2016.

Niall spent the 1990’s in community development within two disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Edinburgh; that experience led him to concentrate on affordable credit. He held positions within Bank of Scotland and Moneyline. Most of Niall’s work has been in consultancy, addressing the impact on low-income households of a lack of access to financial products and services.

Niall is a Director of Right Way Credit Union and the Centre for Responsible Credit, and a member of Moneyline’s Impact Committee.

The changing regulatory framework

Themis Consultancy

The regulatory structure remains a central focus for firms, and many are still navigating through regulatory changes. Vulnerability has been a large focus in recent years, which the pandemic has only added to. The panel discussed the FCA’s Tailored Support Guidance and how this will evolve as we try to move beyond Covid-19.

The big regulatory development this year will be the FCA’s Consumer Duty. The panel also discussed how firms should approach implementation and the steps they should take to prepare.

Panellist biographies below.

Chief Executive, Credit Services Association

Chris Leslie joined the Credit Services Association as Chief Executive in August 2020. He is a former Member of Parliament for Nottingham East and Shipley and was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2015. He was a Government Minister in several departments, with responsibility for constitutional issues and the courts, local government and at the UK Cabinet Office. For five years from 2005 he was Chief Executive director at the New Local Government Network think tank, during which time Chris was also a trustee at the debt advice charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (now ‘StepChange’).

Vulnerability Lead, Money Advice Trust

Christopher Fitch is a Research Fellow at the University of
Bristol and Vulnerability Lead at the Money Advice Trust.

Since 2007, he has led a programme of award-winning guidance, research, training, and intervention on vulnerability. This has involved improving practice in more than 300 firms, with 30,000 staff, and right across the financial and essential service sectors.

Previously Chris was a Research Fellow and Head of Policy at the Royal College of Psychiatrists where he led research programmes and national mental health policy development, and prior to this a Researcher at Imperial College Medical School where he worked on international WHO and United Nations research studies and public health projects in the area of HIV prevention.

Director & Regulatory Consultant, Themis Consultancy

Karen is a Director and Regulatory Consultant at Themis Consultancy. Acting for a range of regulated consumer credit firms, she is highly experienced in practical, solutions focussed advice in fast paced, complex and dynamic environments, applying astute business sense and innovation, whilst balancing the needs of business, customers, stakeholders and regulators.

Formerly General Counsel at Elevate Credit, Karen is a highly motivated, energetic barrister with more than twenty-five years practical experience of consumer credit compliance, consumer protection, commercial, advertising and regulatory law. Karen is experienced in challenging, supporting and working with demanding, high performing executives and technical specialists.

Chief Executive, Marsh Finance

Leading Marsh Finance, one of the longest established motor finance companies in the UK, Andrew has leveraged his knowledge, experience and expertise to provide innovative, cutting edge solutions for consumer motor finance in the digital age.

New innovations in lending


The alternative lending sector is well known for its use of new technology. Here we discussed recent developments and their impact on the lending process and wider customer journey.

The panel also discussed how Covid-19 changed how firms make lending decisions, and the impact Open Banking has had so far. They also explored how new products are helping firms to learn more about issues such as fraud and vulnerability.

We also looked ahead to further developments that might be coming.

Panellist biographies below.

Chief Executive, Aryza

Paul O’Sullivan plays an integral role in developing loan and lease management solutions to support lenders working across the entire debt cycle.

Having worked at Anchor Computer Systems for nearly a decade, Paul has extensive experience and is a leading figure in the instalment credit software industry. Anchor, which worked with over 300 UK finance companies, from innovative start-ups through to well-established national businesses, was acquired by the Aryza Group at the start of 2021.

Paul has a deep understanding of the market sectors in which Aryza operates and is committed to helping customers drive operational efficiency through the deployment of specialist, bespoke technology.

Chief Executive, GAIN Credit

Mark is CEO of Gain Credit LLC the company behind Lending Stream and Drafty. Having started his career in fast moving consumer goods he moved into financial services working across banking, insurance and consumer guidance.

Committed to doing the right thing for customers, Mark
is a graduate of the MAT/UK Finance vulnerability academy
and has spoken at the UN and G20 on driving consumer financial resilience. Mark is also a director of the CCTA.

Chief Executive, PrinSIX

Julian is the CEO and founder of PrinSIX Technologies. PrinSIX allows lenders and other credit businesses to orchestrate high performance customer journeys, personalising customer journeys are driven by analytics.The no code approach moves control of all journeys from IT into commercial teams.

Prior to PrinSIX, Julian was UK CEO for Curo Group,a NYSE listed subprime lender, and president of the Consumer Finance Association.

It is Julian’s experience in sub-prime lending that demonstrated the need to transform how businesses engage with customers digitally.

Fireside Chat


During the afternoon session, we held a fireside chat session with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). We heard from John Wightman, Ombudsman Leader and Head of Practice (Lending).

With FOS, we discussed their approach to complaints, affordability and Claims Management Companies.

Participant biographies below.

Ombudsman Leader & Head of Practice (Lending), FOS

John is a senior ombudsman and has been at the ombudsman service for over nine years. For the last six years, has led policy development, operational delivery and stakeholder engagement across our lending and affordability casework, with a particular focus on the sub-prime sector. John jointly leads the ombudsman service’s Consumer Credit Practice Group. Prior to that, John worked in the ombudsman’s PPI and Packaged Bank Account teams, where he oversaw external engagement with banks, claims management companies, and their regulators.

Before joining the service, John held executive roles at Crimestoppers and Revitalise respite care.

Chief Executive, CCTA

Jason has over twenty years’ experience in strategy development, risk, and communications. He has increasingly focussed on risk and strategy in financial services over recent years.

He is currently Chief Executive of the Consumer Credit Trade Association which represents firms that offer alternative lending products. Jason helps firms adapt to the changing regulation of consumer credit, engaging directly with the FCA on issues of policy and supervision.

Jason’s previous experience includes work within financial services, energy and infrastructure development. Before coming to consumer credit, Jason was involved in planning around resilience issues including fuel shortages and pandemics.