Launched in September 2015 and founded by entrepreneurs, OakNorth offers fast, flexible debt financing, ranging from £500,000 to tens of millions, to the UK’s Missing Middle – high-growth businesses that are the most significant contributors to economic and employment growth, but that still struggle to get access to fast, flexible debt finance.
To date, its bespoke debt finance solutions have supported property developers, care homes, specialist schools and nurseries, hotels, bars and restaurants, pub operators, as well as fund and specialist finance providers. With a range of specialist secured and unsecured business loans, OakNorth caters to the growth plans of businesses, without asking them to give up equity.
Despite experiencing not one, but two unprecedented events – Brexit and COVID-19 – since its launch, the bank has continued supporting growth businesses across the UK. It’s lent c.£10 billion to date, directly helping with the creation of almost tens of thousands of new jobs and new homes (the significant majority of which are affordable and social housing).
Its data-led approach allows it to look at the future, rather than just fixating on the past, meaning it avoids making decisions based on outdated financials. Using data and analytics, it builds up a granular view of every business in its portfolio, combining this with forward-looking scenario analysis, to enable it to be a trusted funding partner as the business scales, and continue confidently lending through economic cycles and unprecedented events.
By behaving as reliable, long-term partners to our customers throughout the pandemic, rather than just bankers, it has been able to make them our best advocates. As a result, c.80% of its new lending comes via referrals, and 40% of its borrowers are repeat customers.
OakNorth differentiates itself from other lenders via four unique selling points:
- Speed – it offers a quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision so that it doesn’t waste business time. It will always try to find a path to ‘yes’ and will never take a computer-says-no decision.
- Flexibility – it will take time to get to know a business and structure a bespoke facility for its unique needs. No off-he-shelf solutions or ready-made products – it looks at each deal with a fresh pair of eyes.
- Transparency – every business it considers lending to is given the opportunity to meet its Credit Committee and discuss its borrowing needs directly with the decision-makers.
- An entrepreneurial approach – it was founded by entrepreneurs, not bankers, so it has a unique understanding of the opportunities and pain points facing businesses and speak the same language as them.