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In the Spotlight with Nicola Georgiou of Moneio

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In the Spotlight with Nicola Georgiou of Moneio

We sat down with Nicola Georgiou, Managing Director at loan brokerage Moneio Ltd – which operates under the trading styles of Freedom Finance and The Lending Wizard – to discuss challenges and positives in the secured loan market, multiplicity and Manchester United...

1) You’re the MD at Moneio Ltd – could you tell us what your day-to-day role involves?

“My main focus currently is developing new business. We have invested significantly into our technology, our people and our processes. We have a business model that works well and we now need to generate more customers. Our unique soft search quotation allows customers to shop for both unsecured and secured loans, which are provided at an accurate rate for their circumstances. My focus is on growing the business and increasing the number of customers who are aware of what we believe is the best way to shop for loans without damaging your credit rating.”

2) What is your background and how did you get into the secured loan market?

“My background is in sales and marketing not financial services. I left university with a degree in communications and marketing not really knowing what I was going to do with it. After building a career in sales management with Thomson’s publishing I joined the Chartered Institute of Building, based in Ascot, to generate income from their membership database through their magazines, exhibitions and other events. I had become their first female board director before leaving to take a short career break to have my daughters. I joined Freedom Finance seven years ago. I was drawn to their status as one of the Times Top 100 best companies to work for. I have enjoyed roles within loan processing and underwriting before becoming Operations Director in 2008 and Managing Director in 2011.”

3) In light of the ongoing financial crisis, what do you think has been the biggest challenge the company has faced since it began?

“There have been many challenges but the most difficult has been the restructuring of the organisation to ensure its survival. We have, up until the last 18 months, had to face several rounds of redundancies and said goodbye to some hugely talented people. We are very much a people-orientated company and keeping the remaining members of staff motivated during these difficult periods has been our most significant challenge. I am delighted to say that we are now back into growth mode. Having recently moved to our new premises, we have already recruited a further 20 people and are looking to take more space within the building. We are also pleased to be welcoming back some of the team members we had to lose during the tough times, which is a reflection of the commitment and dedication of our people.”

4) If you could have any super-power in the world what would it be?

“Multiplicity. Mums who have careers will not need me to explain this any further!”

5) In your experience, what are the most common reasons people want to take out a secured loan?

“Consolidation and home improvements.”

6) If you could ask one famous person any question what and who would you ask?

“I am a big Manchester United fan so I would ask Fergie for his top tips on successful leadership.”

7) What is the perception of secured lending as portrayed in the mainstream press; do you think more needs to be done to change the stereotypical view of the industry?

“The main perception is that secured loans are a sub-prime product for people with poor credit histories. I think that the mainstream press need to change the way they approach many non-standard lending products as they are not helping consumers. The fact is that only about 25 per cent of people who apply for a prime unsecured loan will actually get accepted. The press can play a major role in helping to educate consumers about where to go next. There are a whole range of products underneath these loans which will be appropriate depending on the customer’s circumstances and what they intend to use the loan for. At Moneio we look across a range of both unsecured and secured products, only offering a secured loan when it is appropriate. This is generally due to the size of the requested loan or the lack of availability of any suitable unsecured products. Secured loans are an appropriate product in certain circumstances but not all. Helping consumers understand a wider variety of lending products, the pros and c
ons of each and also what they are appropriate for would be a far better approach from the mainstream press.”

8) What significant changes do you think will come into play in the secured lending market over the next 12 months?

“I do not anticipate any significant changes in the secured lending market in the next 12 months. The current climate means the market will probably stay pretty static, but standing still is better than going backwards. I think that it will be at least another 12 months before we see the secured market growing. We are, however, seeing several new lenders coming into the unsecured market and in the next 12 months we expect to add at least three new lenders to our unsecured panel in both the prime and mid-prime sectors.”

9) You’ve been in secured lending for some time now, how have you adapted your processes to reflect the changes the secured lending industry market?

“Our main change has been to develop our unsecured lending panel to include prime and mid-prime loans. We do not direct all our customers to a secured loan; instead we identify those customers for whom a secured loan would be the best solution from our panel. Developing our soft search solution has allowed us to provide our customers with accurate quotes on products they qualify for without damaging their credit rating. This diversity of products has meant that we are a loans solution provider and not purely a secured loan broker. In fact, 80 per cent of our completions are unsecured. We are also about to launch an online case tracking tool to allow our customers to follow the progress of their loan application from start to finish.”

10) And finally, what’s the one thing you could never live without?

“Anti-ageing cream... I am 40 this year aargh!”





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