Cheltenham lender Folk2Folk appoints “heavy hitter” as COO

Gary Leitch Folk2Folk

Folk2Folk, the marketplace lender for UK regional SMEs, has appointed experienced finance executive Gary Leitch as its new chief operating officer.

Gary is an experienced financial services leader with a reputation for delivery, particularly for businesses looking to make a step change. He brings 34 years of experience in the retail, SME and corporate markets to Folk2Folk, as well as extensive asset finance experience including on the board at Lombard, and then at Paragon Bank.

As managing director of asset finance at Solihull-based Paragon Banking Group, Gary was responsible for successfully leading the business through a period of significant strategic, operational and structural change, integrating a group of businesses into the regulated banking environment. While, more recently as interim Chief Operating Officer at JBR Capital Limited, he successfully resolved several strategically important infrastructural challenges for that business.

As COO of Folk2Folk to support the company’s national growth ambitions, Gary will focus on overseeing overall operational capability encompassing technology, finance, legal and people related matters.

Roy Warren, FOLK2FOLK Managing Director said: “We’ve been strategising and preparing the business for growth which includes bolstering internal expertise in terms of processes, credit, and risk assessment.

“I believe in bringing the right players onto the pitch at the right time, and Gary is the right person for Folk2Folk to bring in to play now.”

Gary said: “I am excited by the opportunity to support Folk2Folk’s mission to put humanity back into finance and to create prosperity for Britain’s regions, both being ambitions that resonate with me. Finance should be a people business, and it sits well with the government’s levelling up agenda, so I’m thrilled to be working for a company that delivers on that.

In recent years Folk2Folk has grown from its headquarters in Cornwall and base in Cheltenham to becoming a UK-wide source of finance for small business owners, farmers and property developers in the regional parts of the UK. With funding from both private and institutional investors – such as Cheltenham Borough Council and Forest of Dean Council – the company also provides attractive, property-backed investment opportunities with zero investor losses to date. Since 2013, the marketplace lender has lent £544m to SMEs, with the majority so far based in the South West, making it the second largest peer to peer platform in the UK and one of the UK’s largest Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) providers.

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