· Banking licence process in final stages – B-North submitted its licence application in September 2019, having received its invitation from the Regulator in August - a step which over two-thirds of applicants fail to reach. The process continues to progress smoothly with B-North now aiming to secure its licence (Authorised With Restriction) before the end of Q1, 2020.
· Super-seed capital raise over-subscribed – B-North successfully raised over £2.8m from its recent raise, 140% of the original target. This will support the further development of the business proposition through to the commencement of lending activities, initially in the North-West, approximately 6 months ahead of plan from mid-2020.
· Series A funding round underway – Berenberg Bank have been appointed as sole advisor on B-North’s £20m Series A round, which will provide the capital required to secure the banking licence and take the business through to full authorisation and the commencement of deposit taking, scheduled for Q4 2020.
· NSSL on-boarded for deposit-taking – B-North has formally engaged Newcastle Strategic Solutions Limited (‘NSSL’) as its outsource provider of deposit-taking services. NSSL is the UK’s leading provider of white-label deposit-taking services, and manages deposits of in excess of £29bn on behalf of c12 other major UK banks.
· Systems development and integration progressing at pace – B-North is partnering with Mambu and nCino on a seamless integration of their core banking and loan origination systems. An announcement in respect of B-North’s exciting new partnership with a UK fintech for agency banking and payments services is expected in the coming weeks.
Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, commented:
“2019 has been a year of outstanding progress for B-North. We have built a great team, we have engaged the best technology partners in the market and we have progressed our banking licence further and faster than even our own high expectations. We look forward with great confidence to 2020 being a year of further significant progress.”
B-North is being developed to serve the UK business lending market. The team is taking its deep insight into the market for lending to UK businesses and using this to place the customer right at the heart of its business model. The result will be flexible, fast-paced and borrower-friendly.
Overview of progress
We continue to make rapid progress. Both our banking licence application process and our technology build are progressing smoothly and B-North plans to commence lending activities in Q2, 2020 some 6 months ahead of plan. NSSL have been onboarded to provide deposit-taking services and the team has now expanded to 24. All supported by an interim capital raise that was over-subscribed.
Further development of the Team
B-North continues to build its wider management team with exciting new hires. Since the last update, Paul Sleney has joined as Head of Internal Audit to build out our 3 Lines of Defence model. Paul brings with him more than 25 years’ financial services experience in audit, conduct, risk and regulatory assurance at some of the UK’s biggest banking names.
Greig Moran has joined as Head of Operational Risk for B-North and brings with him over 20 years enterprise risk management experience from the Financial Services sector gained from across all 3 lines of defence. He specialises in Operational Risk and Risk Governance and creating robust business enabling risk frameworks which align to customer, business and regulatory needs and requirements.
Sophia Ramsbottom has joined as Marketing Manager. Sophia is responsible for developing B-North’s online presence and will work alongside the sales team to communicate the B-North proposition and drive its entry into the challenger bank space. She will also lead on new product launches and services between B-North’s regional Pods.
Marika Shand has joined as Senior Management Accountant. Experienced in financial forecasting, business partnering and financial appraisals, Marika will work on B-North’s cash flow forecast, budget and financial management as the company moves through its licencing process and launch.
Banking licence application well advanced
The progress that we are making with our banking licence application is surpassing our expectations. We submitted our banking licence application in September, a milestone that less than two-thirds of those starting the process achieve. Since then, we have had a series of monthly meetings with the PRA and the FCA to keep them updated on progress in the business and to facilitate the process of addressing any residual information requests required to complete the process.
To date, no significant issues have arisen, and we would like to acknowledge the engagement we have had with the regulators, who have made the process very transparent and straightforward. Taking into account the progress made to date and the feedback we have received, we are aiming to secure our banking licence around the end of Q1,2020, ahead of previous expectations.
IT system build
One of the key points of differentiation will be the IT platform that will help deliver a fundamentally re-engineered and enhanced SME lending journey.
As previously noted, the development of the Customer Loan Origination system, in partnership with nCino inc., continues to progress well and the productised integration of that platform with Mambu’s Core Banking system is now well advanced.
Appointment of outsource partner for deposit-taking
B-North has been created with the sole objective of disrupting the large and poorly served UK SME lending market. However, it will fund its loan book predominantly through retail fixed-term deposits. In December 2019, B-North announced that it had engaged Newcastle Strategic Solutions Limited (‘NSSL’) as its outsource deposit-taking partner. NSSL is a subsidiary of the Newcastle Building Society and is the UK’s market leading provider of white-label deposit-taking services, managing in excess of £bn of deposits for c14 other major UK banks.
B-North has already completed the initial phase of workshops with NSSL to determine customer journeys and the service proposition and will progress build activity in respect of products, people and technology in the coming months.
Early commencement of lending
As noted above, B-North is aiming to secure its banking license around the end of Q1,2020. This initial licence is classified as ‘Authorised With Restriction’ which means that B-North will be a bank but will have to successfully complete a Mobilisation period before it is able to fund its lending activities through retail fixed-term deposits. B-North expects to conclude this Mobilisation period and commence deposit-taking in Q4, 2020.
However, B-North intends to commence lending activities shortly after receipt of the banking licence some 6 months earlier than planned. The aim is to fund the initial loan book through a securitised debt facility and B-North is engaged in a constructive dialogue with a major financial institution that would provide such a facility.
B-North believes that the early commencement of lending activities, some 6 months’ sooner than originally planned, would provide significant benefit to current shareholders, as it would enable B-North to prove its business proposition and become post-revenue in advance of future more significant capital raises.
Management continue to exercise tight budgetary control and, despite the rapid progress we are making, this is ensuring that the cost of developing the business is lower than the initial forecast. There is no change to previous guidance that the overall build the bank cost is expected to be over 20% lower than original expectations.
In October, the business underwent its first external audit by Deloitte LLP. The annual report and accounts were approved on the back of a clean audit report that provided the Audit Committee and the Board assurance over the strong financial control environment that has been established during the year.
Our seed round raised over £4m and included a substantial six-figure commitment from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. This has now been supplemented by a further Super-Seed with raised commitments of over £2.8m, comprising investment from existing shareholders, new investors and the management team, supported by the Growthfunders and Crowdcube platforms. The success of this raise is measured by the fact that it was over 140% subscribed and now values the business at £m.
This capital will fund the further development of the business through to the point of obtaining its banking licence and ready the business for early commencement of lending activities in Q2, 2020.
Alongside this, B-North has commenced the process to raise c£20m of capital that will be required to underpin the bank at the point of receiving its licence. This process is being led by Berenberg Bank in the role of sole advisor and is progressing well with B-North engaged in a positive dialogue with a number of potential institutional investors.
2019 has been a year of outstanding progress for B-North. We have built a great team; we have engaged the best technology partners in the market and we have progressed our banking licence further and faster than even our own high expectations. We look forward with great confidence to 2020 being a year of further significant progress.
In the news
Business Chief: Powering the North of the UK
Specialist Banking: B-North’s 2020 Outlook
Manchester Evening News: Banking veteran on how the UK can get better at growing SMEs – and why we need more local banks
Fintech Futures: B-North outsources deposit taking with Newcastle Strategic Solutions
Fintech Finance: B-North chooses Newcastle Strategic Solutions for savings solution
Business Up North: B-North Chooses Newcastle Strategic Solutions For Savings Solution
IBS Intelligence: B-North selects Newcastle for enhancing savings solution