GLIF Buys A Slice of the Mandatory Referral Scheme

By Ryan Weeks on Wednesday 6 May 2015

Alternative Lending

GLI Finance continues to add to its alternative financing arsenal.

The prolific platform backer holds equity investments in eight separate varieties of alternative funding company – ranging from rewards-based crowdfunders to trade finance providers to peer-to-business lenders. The SME finance specialist’s latest investment has taken place within the current hotspot that is the online credit brokerage space – occupied by what the British Business Bank terms as “finance platforms”. GLI Finance has invested £1.25m in Funding Options in exchange for a 28.9% stake in the company.

Funding Options is one of the many SME loan intermediaries in the running for designation as a mandatory bank referral platform. For those that don’t know, such sites are vying to be placed by government into the heart of the proposed system of requiring the banks to refer the SMEs that they reject onto the alternative finance sector. Chancellor George Osborne’s latest budget tasked the British Business Bank with sifting through the various applicants. The application window has now closed, and the word on the grapevine is that Funding Options (among others) stands a strong chance of being designated.

The credit broker is built around a technology interface that guides SME owners through various funding choices, with a view to matching that individual to an appropriate source of finance. Funding Options also provides expert advice to those business owners, and pre-screens every prospective borrower in order to ensure a high quality of credit applicants.

Geoff Miller, Chief Executive of GLI Finance, gave his take:

“Funding Options is a great business using sophisticated matchmaking technology alongside expert support and I am delighted to welcome them to the GLI family. Funding Options exemplifies how brokered alternative finance can be invaluable for small businesses trying to navigate an ever expanding range of financers, having referred UK SMEs to more than fifty alternative lenders in the past year.”

GLI Finance in fact already has an online credit brokerage of sorts nestled within its warchest in the form of Finpoint. But there are differences between the two models – primarily that the Finpoint portal also facilitates bank funding, whereas Funding Options specialises in non-bank finance.

Conrad Ford, Founder and Chief Executive of Funding Options, weighed in:

“We are excited to be partnering with GLI and Geoff’s team. Our vision is to be a one-stop-shop for small businesses with financing needs, no matter how challenging, urgent or unusual. We look forward to working with the GLI family of investments, finding synergies and learning from their deep understanding of the alternative finance sector, both in the UK and globally.”

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