Oakbrook Finance is committed to providing great customer service. If, however, you have a
complaint about a product or service
provided by Oakbrook finance we genuinely want to hear from you. If we don't know what's bugging
we can't fix it or improve. So please contact us on telephone number: 0208 080 6450 or write to us
Oakbrook Finance Ltd, The Poynt North, 45 Wollaton Street, Nottingham, NG1 5FW. If you would like
information on our complaints procedure then please
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11th September 2018
Oakbrook Finance ranked among the Top 20 Fastest Growing UK Private Technology Companies
for the Second Year in Succession.
Oakbrook has ranked 16th in this year’s annual The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track
of the UK’s fastest growing private technology, media and telecoms companies, the second
successive year the company has been ranked in the Top 20.
Oakbrook offers consumer loans using technology and machine learning to help estimate
borrowers’ credit risk. The company had sales of £40.4m last year, recorded annual average
sales growth of 155% over the last three years, and is backed by Blenheim Chalcot.
Paul Aylieff, Chief Financial officer, commented “we’re delighted to have once again
featured in the top 20 of the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 list. I’d like to extend
our thanks to our customers, the dedicated team here at Oakbrook and our funders and
Sasha Laverick - 12th September 2017
Oakbrook Finance ranked among the UK's best for its rapid technology-driven growth
Oakbrook Finance, the Nottingham-based consumer finance business, has been ranked the
seventh fastest-growing technology
company in the UK in the prestigious Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 ranking.
Oakbrook has grown sales more than 213 per cent in three years, developing new technologies
that have enabled it to offer
loans to people who have difficulty borrowing money from the main high street lenders.
Its model uses some of the latest developments in data science, among them machine
learning, so that it's able to make better-informed
lending decisions built on a much deeper analysis of its customers' financial behaviour.
Oakbrook started out three years ago with a small team, but now employs around 90 people at
its offices in Accelerate Places
Nottingham, the hub for scale-up and tech businesses on Wollaton Street.
It's currently looking for more data scientists, credit analysts and software developers
and testers to join its team, which
is expected to break through the 100 barrier over the next six months.
Michael Woodburn, CEO of Oakbrook, says its rapid growth reflects a decision to take a
different approach to consumer lending.
He commented: "Right from the outset, our view has been that personal finance has to
change. So our starting point was to
use technology to develop what would work for people who needed to borrow, not put a
badge on the same old lending.
"There's no reason why people who haven't got a spotless credit record shouldn't be treated
just as fairly and reasonably
as anyone else. Technology can help to deliver that – but so can the passion and commitment
people have to giving customers a much more user-friendly experience."
The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 ranks the UK's best technology companies by growth.
But it also recognises innovative
and market-leading technology.
Neil O'Connor, Oakbrook's Chief Technology Officer, said: "This is why we're immensely
proud to have appeared so close to
the top of the Tech Track 100. It's a vindication of our desire to do right by our
to continuously innovate on their behalf and to develop technology with a real purpose.
"We're a very agile and dynamic business that responds quickly to change and that's
reflected in both the speed with which
we make lending decisions and our ability to bring new products to market much more quickly
Anul Jain, Oakbrook's Chief Analytics Officer, added: "What we do is unique and different
and growing our reputation as a
technology-led business is very important to the whole team. There is a lot of change in
banking market and we are in a strong position to take advantage of that."
Oakbrook Finance is backed by Blenheim Chalcot, the UK's leading venture builder and the
company behind the development of
Accelerate Places Nottingham, a £40m investment in creating a home for both its own
and a new generation of scale-up and start-up firms.
Michael Woodburn concluded: "Accelerate Places has given us a great working environment,
with a brilliant collaborative space
and a supportive team. Being in Nottingham also puts us at the heart of a growing fintech
and a wider tech community we're proud to support through initiatives like Hack24.
"We've been supported by Nottingham City Council through its N'Tech grant scheme and we see
this as a city that has a good
a reputation as London as a place where you can develop a career in fintech."
The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech track 100 ranking represents the second major acknowledgement
of Oakbrook's growing reputation
in consumer finance. Earlier this year its Likely Loans brand won a consumer award from
Sasha Laverick - 24th April 2017
Likely Loans wins Moneyfacts Non mainstream loan provider of the year!
2017 has been an exciting year for Likely Loans. We won our first Moneyfacts award down in
10 of us headed down to the Lancaster London hotel to represent Likely Loans at the
Moneyfacts Awards on the 25th January.
How the winners are picked
Firstly a team of industry experts set a criteria that they use to decide which companies
best products in each category. It is then over to the consumers who have the chance to
for their favourite company through the Moneyfacts survey which counts for 50% of the
We want to say a big thank you to everyone who voted for us in the Moneyfacts survey. We
have done it without you, it means a lot to us to know that our hard work and determination
provide the best service and products is being felt by the people we care about most.
Michael Woodburn | Chief Executive - 9th February 2017
Overdraft Charges and Other Nasty Surprises
In the news today, they're talking about the reality of the cost of overdraft charges and
other nasty surprises.
Here is a four point plan to avoid falling in to your overdraft and so falling foul of
Know what matters – that is the
TOTAL COST OF CREDIT. This is the total of all the interest, fees and
you will pay over the life time of the loan. Put simply this is the cost of borrowing
Know the charges. Even if you don't read the Terms and Conditions, read the summary
box. That will tell you the interest
rate, the fees and what triggers those fees..
Know yourself. With a loan its relatively simple. You make the payments and you are,
roughly, fine. Its more complex with
things like overdrafts and credit cards. Make a judgement about how much you will pay
month and how often you will miss payments. Then
halve the amount you think you will pay and
double the number of times you will miss payments. 25 years in this
taught me that people are always too optimistic about those things.
Total Cost of Credit. On a loan this is easy. For example our product
as you move the slider you can see the "Total Amount Repayable" –
if you borrow £2000 for 24 months your total repayable (the amount you pay us back) is
So the loan will cost you £931.36. For something like a credit card or an overdraft you
have go to on-line calculators and put in your payment amounts (halved) and how often
will be late (doubled).
Should banks do a better job of being clear? Absolutely. Until they do follow my four point
plan so you know what you are
getting into. Once you know the Total Cost of Credit you make the judgement – is £931.36
it, or is it not? Its up to you.
But don't go in blinded by hope and not knowing the real costs.
Michael Woodburn | Chief Executive - 25th August 2016
How performance related pay crushed my dreams
Spending my teenage years in Macclesfield in the mid-eighties, the height of sophistication
go to the 'Chicken Spit' for a filter coffee. It was positively Bohemian. Or so I thought
I stumbled on the new Costa Coffee at Piccadilly Station in Manchester where I had – wait
it – an expresso. It was amazing. My fifteen year old self felt like Marcello Mastroianni,
the seedy ramp down from the station had become the Spanish steps.
I always retained my loyalty to Costa despite the new burgundy colours, the acquisition by
and even those god awful machines. Until, a few years ago, I was at one of the four (!)
Coffees in Wetherby Services buying my small Cappuccino, when the bored looking lady asked
whether I'd like a pastry with that. As usual, I gave my reflex "no", when with a burst of
she said in broad Yorkshire, "oh go on, I've got me KPIs to hit". Part of my teenage self
died. I wasn't a person, I was just a unit of inventory.
That, to me, sums up financial incentives. On paper it's absolutely fertile ground for
She had a simple, measurable task (flog cakes to people who don't want them) that was
in her control which is relatively hard to game and she probably didn't much want to do
Studies show that's where incentives work best. Costa (or Whitbread) are, of course,
part of what they want – they are selling more cakes per customer.
But think of the cost: it was 100% clear that the woman didn't give a toss about me. So
from thinking of Costa with nostalgia to actively avoiding the place. My loyalty
to 200 Degrees - Nottingham's first hipster coffee place where the skinny and/or
baristas don't offer me pastries I don't want (in fact, I kind of feel like they are
me a favour by making coffee for me in the first place).
If that happens in something as simple as selling cake, how does the idea of financial
(or performance based pay) apply to a company like Oakbrook? None of the preconditions
success really apply – we aren't doing simple jobs, on our own, with clear results. We
tackling ambiguous inter-related problems which require team work, openness, creativity
where it's not really clear what success will look like when we've got to the answer."
So how do we implement Performance Based pay in that kind of environment? That's where
Performance Management comes in. What that means is an objective system of assessing
contributions to outcomes and performance against a competency model ensures that
are banded fairly and rewarded appropriately.
We've all sat in those rooms, 5 hours in, hearing about how person x's leadership on
y, was more or less important, than person p's analytic thinking on project q,
if banging our heads repeatedly on the edge of the desk will somehow make the pain
And even if all the objective, rational, non-political managers could do this ranking
it would still be futile. The process will always leave people dissatisfied and
it's unfair because people have inflated views of their own performance. Of course, you
I don't, we're awesome, but those other guys, they aren't as good as they think they
In a world where pretty much everyone thinks their performance is somewhere between
and top percentile performance, performance management is bound to be demotivating.
you get what you expected or you get less.
Of course, as with the lady at Wetherby Services, there is massive scope for unintended
If I am being ranked alongside my peers why should I co-operate with them? If I am
pressure to show my performance is that likely to be good for my creativity (do you
your best ideas with your boss looking over your shoulder?).
But what is less clear is whether it has any good effects which might compensate. Most
just don't have enough personal control over the outcome of a project to make a clear
between their actions and that outcome. The marketing person whose volume goals are
because the credit analyst restricted policy because the statistical models built by
decision scientists were less powerful than he'd hoped because the data was not in an
state for analysis and anyway which were not implemented in a timely way because the
teams could not deliver them because there was scope creep with the changing covariates
the DBA had not been able to ….. You get the point.
The other stated purpose of allowing good feedback to help the associate develop? Of
almost the worst time to give someone feedback is in the context of them being judged
in most cases found wanting. In fact, my long suffering ex-boss, Brian Cole, agreed
to give me the rating and the bonus rather than torturing me with the feedback. Now
Thinking about the reasons why you would do performance management how many of the
It's supposed to motivate staff to work harder but really demotivates most people
and if it does motivate people, it drives
them to showboat and be political.
We'd like it to provide platform to push people's learning and development, but we
that with judgement which makes the person least likely to be receptive.
We want people to develop as individuals, but in order to assess them, we create a
competency model which tries to make them all fit a mould.
Critically we want to improve our organisational performance and the evidence that
it does so is actually very sketchy indeed.
In reality, we don't seem to be meeting our objectives with this costly and painful
Oakbrook really tries to learn from mistakes – both our own and more broadly. So we
have the answer to this problem? Well,
not so much. However, we do have some thinking.
Firstly, we have tried to decompose the problem.
How do we ensure that our people are developing to their full potential
How do we rapidly identify people who are struggling and either help them
succeed (or candidly recognise that they aren't
a good fit for Oakbrook – it's in no one's interest to prolong this overlong)?
How do we reward people for their efforts without creating divisions and
widespread concerns about unfairness?
We do think it's a big step forward breaking these apart into separate
processes. The big behemoth of Performance Management
is trying to serve too many masters – it's almost bound to fail, so splitting
apart makes it much easier to think about and manage.
We are developing our answers to all of these, but I'd be very interested in hearing
anyone else's thoughts.
Michael Woodburn | Chief Executive - 20th July 2016
What? A Start-Up without a Vision?
I run a start-up which, whilst a few pref shares short of a unicorn, is really doing very
are growing by about 5% or 6% a month, with revenue (and risk adjusted margin) growing even
we are doing some smart analytics, we've built some great tech and we have top people with
brilliant culture (you can see our behaviours in the photo!)
So why aren't I guest of honour at the Fintech Entrepreneurs Club/Hipster Coffee Joint in
Sadly, I lack two key attributes. I can only grow a wispy beard. And, worse, I don't have a
Actually, Visions annoy me.
There are brilliant, powerful motivating Vision Statements out there. Unfortunately there
about five or six of them globally. The rest of them sound like they are retrofitted to
company strategy and are written in corporate-ese by a committee of middle-aged guys in
Guess what? That is exactly how they were written. I've been in those conversations and
go like this:
Head of HR: "We need a vision to inspire our people"
CEO: "Errrrm, How about 'We want to make the world a better place'?"
CFO: "But we aren't a charity"
CEO: "True, 'We want to deliver superior returns to shareholders by making the world a
Chief Counsel: "We should specify what we do"
CEO: "Good Point. 'We want to deliver superior returns to shareholders by making the
better place with personal loans'".
Head of Product Development: "But what about my projects? They are about diversifying
CEO: "Course, spot on. 'We want to deliver superior returns to shareholders by making
a better place with personal loans, credit cards and other consumer lending products."
CMO: "That's not very customer friendly is it?"
CEO: "Yes, Customers, of course, we love customers. We want to deliver superior returns
by making the world a better place with customer centric, financial solutions"
Head of HR: "I thought our people were our greatest asset?"
CEO: "Course yes, customers and employees. People. Very important. 'With our exceptional
we will deliver superior returns to shareholders by making the world a better place
customer centric financial solutions".
CTO: "It's a bit 20th Century isn't it?"
CEO: "True, we are a cutting edge Fintech unicorn, I forgot. How about 'The cutting edge
developed by our exceptional teams will deliver superior returns to shareholders by
the world a better place with customer centric financial solutions'".
COO: "Most people work in Ops trying to create great service. This won't speak to them."
CEO: "The Frontline? They're the last people we want to neglect. 'The cutting edge tech
by our exceptional teams will deliver superior returns to shareholders by making the
a better place with customer centric financial solutions delivered with a wonderful
Head of Compliance: "Bit of an over-claim, isn't it? Also what about our ethics,
to see that."
CEO: "Credibility is key. Thank you. 'The cutting edge tech developed by our exceptional
will deliver superior returns to shareholders by making the world a somewhat better
(within the constraints of our market) by creating ethical, customer centric financial
which meet genuine needs as defined under outcome 2 of TCF and a service that is
and aspires to be better'"
Head of HR: "Love it, great, lets get the posters printed."
My experience – both personal and vicarious – is that start ups don't actually begin
with a vision:
they begin with an observation or a question. The question is usually some variant of
does this industry work like this?" A great local company HDD started with the question
can't you find out if you will get approved for credit without getting a mark on your
file?" The answers to this question helped them genuinely change the way the market
Oakbrook started with the question: "Why is risk based pricing so different in Credit
Personal Loans?" I'd argue this is a better starting point than a vision of "Lets
The power of the question is that it forces you to actually understand what goes on in
Actually there are reasons why the markets evolved differently – some good, some bad,
which still apply and some which are legacy. But posing the question forced us to
understand, to find the answers. Then knowing those answers prompted new questions:
do loans even exist, aren't they just a subset of credit lines?"; "How can you give
more control of their borrowing?"; "What are smarter ways of funding our business so we
not forced into certain market segments?", "What data can we leverage and how can we
it better to make better lending choices?". All of these questions have driven a better
of our product, market, processes and what drives success.
We've been evolving our overall question, currently it's a bit broader than where we
"Why aren't there better borrowing choices for people outside the Banks' core customer
I agree its not as inspiring as some vision statements.
But I do love the attitude that sits behind it: its humble, honest and ambitious. Three
favourite qualities. We're asking the questions because we don't know the answers. Yet.
its going to be a load of fun trying to find them.
1st April 2016
Expanding finance firm is latest to move into Nottingham's 'Silicon Roundabout' tech hub
An expanding financial firm has become the latest business to move into a multi-million
hub in Nottingham.
Oakbrook Finance has moved its operation from Lock House, in Castle Meadow Road, to
Nottingham, in Wollaton Street, following a deal overseen by Innes England.
The hub, which is owned by investment firm Blenheim Chalcot, has 22,000 sq ft of office
across four floors and has been billed as Nottingham's equivalent of Silicon Roundabout – a
for tech companies and software developers in London.
Sarah Marriott of Oakbrook Finance, said: "We are moving to Wollaton Street to optimise our
and taking up great new space as part of an exciting network of like-minded businesses with
"Oakbrook will have the space and the support to continue its ambitious plans for
Read more: Entrepreneur Mark Onyett accelerates tech hub plans with £3m Nottingham deal
"Innes England has provided us with the service and support to make the move from Lock
– and onto larger premises."
The firm, which was set up in 2011 to provide finance to Home Learning College students,
into Lock House less than two years ago.
But it has experienced significant expansion during that time and needs additional
to accommodate its growing team, which currently stands at about 60 staff.
In a three-way agreement overseen by Craig Straw, director at Innes England, Lock House
now be home to contractor Willmott Dixon, which has taken over the space previously
by Oakbrook Finance.
Mr Straw said: "Oakbrook is a rapidly expanding business and quickly outgrew the space I
for them at Lock House – less than two years after taking the space following its
"This was a hugely popular space and there was very strong competition from potential
looking to move in, which is indicative of the lack of good quality space available
"We were very pleased to be able to agree terms with contractor Willmott Dixon, which
its Nottingham operation from Phoenix Park into the city.
Read more: Construction firm Willmott Dixon moves Nottingham operation to southern
"Accelerate Places Nottingham was a perfect fit for Oakbrook and will allow them the
to continue to grow their business in an exciting environment."
Oakbrook Finance is now one of six firms - also including Bizfitech, Liberis and Cronofy
at Accelerate Places Nottingham, which has ambitious plans to attract the top talent in
region within its space.
In addition to accommodating businesses owned by Blenheim Chalcot, it features large
areas and collaborative spaces, as well as setting aside work space for external
Mark Sanders CEO of Accelerate Places, added: "We're delighted that Oakbrook Finance are
us in Nottingham and becoming part of our community of high growth, ambitious,
"We look forward to seeing their future success and the contribution they can make to
Press Release - 9th February 2016
Oakbrook Finance shortlisted for National Employee Award
Oakbrook Finance is thrilled to announce that it is a Finalist in the UK
The Awards recognise and celebrate the delivery of exceptional employee experience in
businesses across the UK.
Oakbrook Finance is a Finalist in the
Employee engagement category of the national Awards.
Finalists in each of the 20 categories will present their entry to a team of specialist
at The Park Plaza Riverbank, in London on 4th May 2016. Winners will be announced
a gala luncheon on the day.
The UK Employee Experience Awards are owned by Awards International the operators of the
successful UK Customer Experience Awards and are presented in partnership with Customer
Magazine, Cranfield School of Management and Awards International.
Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International, said the standard of entries for 2016 has
"We are delighted to announce the Finalists of the UK Employee Experience Awards. The
of entries has been outstanding and it is fantastic to see how businesses throughout
UK are delivering outstanding employee experiences. We would like to congratulate all
the Finalists and look forward to celebrating and rewarding their success at the Awards
10th March 2015
Nottingham plans £40m rival to London's Silicon Roundabout - creating hundreds of jobs
Hundreds of jobs could be created by a multi-million pound investment to create a new
technology hub in Nottingham. The team
behind one of the city's most successful technology firms wants to develop Nottingham's
of London's Silicon Roundabout. They have already put £40 million into setting up three new
in an office building on Wilford Street. But they want to buy bigger premises to enable the
to grow while also attracting other technology companies which require similar skills.
News of the investment was due to be announced by Nottingham City Council later today
at MIPIM, the international investment
exhibition in Cannes. The project is being led by Mark Onyett, a former Capital One
who went on to launch TDX Group – a Nottingham tech company later sold for £200
He said: "We want to create something big here which could have 500 to 1,000 people.
"History tells us that this is a great place for building businesses – we can find great
the presence of the two universities is a big help, there is a core of data analytics
and our experience has been that if you can find the right people here they will stay
and stay longer because of the quality of life."
Council leader Councillor Jon Collins said: "Nottingham is rapidly gaining a reputation
as the city for growing financial
technology and data analytics businesses." It was in 2004 that Mark Onyett and a group
colleagues launched a business in Nottingham called TDX Group. A decade later they sold
company for a cool £200 million. Now a partner in Blenheim Chalcot, a firm which
in other companies, Mr Onyett is building business again. This time it's not one but
businesses he hopes to grow. And, like TDX, he's chosen Nottingham as the place to do
Mr Onyett says he has chosen Nottingham because it's become a national hotspot for a
particular kind of technology talent:
bright young people who develop software. This talent pool has grown up because of the
of a group of businesses who need their skills. They include Experian, Capital One, TDX
Ikano bank, HD Decisions, Insurance Initiatives and others. These programmers are also
by medical technology companies like Parexel and Exco inTouch. Mr Onyett says there are
so many of them that the time is right to try to build something similar to London's
Roundabout – where a cluster of technology skills has encouraged other firms to move
He said: "We started three businesses fairly recently, we've got around 50 people
and we are looking to double that.
"The big thrust for us is to build a hub with a bunch of businesses. We want to create
big here in Nottingham which could really move the needle for both us and the city."
Mr Onyett says Nottingham is the right place to do it because it has not only the right
but the right lifestyle.
He said: "Our experience has been that if you can find the right people here they will
and stay longer because of the quality of life".
"London is a place where it's easy come, easy go for people, but when you're looking to
a business you want people to stay together."
The three companies which Blenheim Chalcott is backing are Oakbrook Finance, which
specialises in consumer lending; Sequensis,
which develops specialist software for financial services firms; and Bizfitech, which
developing software aimed purely at lending to small businesses. Mr Onyett said: "We
putting £40 million into those three businesses. We have room for around 65 people
we are, so space is already getting tight.
"We would like to buy a building which could make a kind of home for innovation in
"Could we have 500-1,000 people in this space? Quite possibly – places like Silicon
and Shoreditch (in London) become like a virtuous circle."
"People hang around there because they know that lots of cool stuff goes on."
"This is definitely happening in Nottingham and if we can get a real buzz around coding,
and how you use it – and around a building which is branded for it – then I think
could come and take leases."
Mr Onyett is looking to base the tech hub in a building which offers 20-30,000 sq ft of
space to begin with. His property
search is being led by Matt Hannah, a director of Nottingham property firm Innes
He said: "This is a very positive inward investment requirement for Nottingham offering
opportunity to develop and retain home grown talent." Nottingham City Council will also
the plans in the spotlight at MIPIM, the international property development and
exhibition taking place this week in Cannes.
They will be revealed at a dinner tonight where the audience includes representatives
in the USA, a state whose tech cluster includes a Google data centre. Welcoming the
council leader Councillor Jon Collins said: "Nottingham is rapidly gaining a reputation
the city for growing financial technology and data analytics businesses.
"A cluster of big-name companies in the sector can only be enhanced by the establishment
and coming businesses.
"The applications of these technologies are huge, and being the location of choice in
will be of immense value to Nottingham's economy.
"We are working closely with Mark and his team to turn this bold vision into a reality