Nottingham fintech firm set to break through century barrier

Michael Woodburn

Oakbrook Finance, the Nottingham-based consumer finance business, has been ranked the seventh fastest-growing technology company in the UK in the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 ranking.

Oakbrook has grown sales more than 213% 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.

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, chief executive of Oakbrook, says its rapid growth reflects a decision to take a different approach to consumer lending.

He said: “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 different 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 our 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 customers, 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 than traditional lenders.”

Anuj Jain, Oakbrook’s head of decision science, 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 the banking market and we are in a strong position to take advantage of that.”

Oakbrook Finance is backed by Blenheim Chalcot, the company behind the development of Accelerate Places Nottingham, a £40m investment in creating a home for both its own businesses and a new generation of scale-up and start-up firms.

Woodburn added: “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 hub 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.”