ASHMAN has announced its UK banking licence (Authorised with Restrictions or ‘AwR’), which means it has been authorised and regulated to trade with restrictions by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). Ashman, which was founded by real-estate entrepreneurs Ashkin Mittal and Manhad Narula, plans to transform the banking experience for property SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), a £90bn market opportunity.
Ashman is initially focused on lending to SMEs in the commercial real estate sector, while providing savers with competitive rates. Ashman will lend on deals from £100k to £5 million.
The SME commercial lending market remains underserved with 50% of SMEs surveyed saying they are unable to access finance and 84% being frustrated by slow decision-making and inflexible credit offerings. Digital by design, Ashman plans to deliver speed and a personalised service to clients and brokers.
Ashman, which is headquartered in Birmingham and plans to grow its headcount in the city over the course of this year, is led by James Leach, former Global Chief Operating Officer of Maple Financial, and supported by an experienced senior team. Chief Risk Officer, Lisa Nowell, joined the new entrant from digital bank Monzo and spent time at Barclays and Nationwide; Chief Commercial Officer, Caroline Luxmore, spent 10 years at Aldermore Bank with 25+ years’ experience in the industry; Matt Cowan, Chief Financial Officer, has worked at Deutsche Bank, HSBC and RBS; and Chief Operating Officer, Simon Healy, was previously one of the founding members of Aldermore and Managing Director of its Savings arm responsible for originating £15bn customer deposits.
James Leach, Chief Executive Officer of Ashman, said: “We are delighted to have received regulatory approval. Our banking licence is an important first step in realising our ambitions to support SME borrowers and personal savers alike, with a different approach to lending that delivers the service and range of products we know SME developers need.”
“We are proud to be the first new entrant to be licenced this year and to be doing so from Birmingham, which is the perfect city for us to build a business we know can have a lasting impact on the market. Birmingham has an incredibly strong talent pool and is a hub that provides all the supporting expertise we need to deliver our ambitions.”