B-North, the Manchester-based firm building an SME lending bank for the UK, has grown its team again with three new audits, accounting and marketing hires. The move comes as the lender – which will bring fast, efficient funding to the under-serviced SME market – counts down to its Q2 launch of lending activities, following further infrastructure and services construction in 2019.

Paul Sleney joins as Head of Internal Audit and 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.  At Lloyds Banking Group Paul was Head of Internal Audit for Customer Services, Credit Operations and Consumer Banking; he provided internal audit and risk management advice for one of the UK's largest charitable organisations, The Royal British Legion; and he led the Internal Audit function at GE Capital Bank Ltd. covering the consumer lending businesses in both the UK and Ireland.  Paul’s CV also includes time at OakNorth Bank, HSBC and Arthur Andersen.

A Chartered Management Accountant who holds an MBA from the Manchester Business School, Paul joins from Grant Thornton, where he was Associate Director.

Marika Shand, Senior Management Accountant, was in the Controlling and Management Accounting division at npower for three years before joining the B-North team. 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. She is a fully qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Sophia Ramsbottom, Marketing Manager, joins B-North as the company prepares to reach borrowers and brokers alike. She was previously at Citation Professional Services, a Health & Safety and HR and Employment Law firm, and before that, at NCC Group, the software escrow and cybersecurity firm, for five years. 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 different regional pods, the first of which will be in Manchester, (followed by Leeds, London and Birmingham). This highly localised, technology-enabled, ‘pod model’ will allow loans to be made available to SMEs in as little as 10 working days.

Jonathan Thompson, Co-Founder and CEO, said: “At B-North, we are implementing a leading market solution for essential lending to SMEs. To deliver it successfully, we are growing in numbers and bringing on talented team members who are instrumental to the delivery and infrastructure of our product. At this critical time, as we move closer to launch, to have Paul, Sophia and Marika join us is a huge boost to our capabilities and what we can achieve. They are invaluable additions to our highly experienced banking team, which originates from legacy and challenger banks and offers deep insight into the lending market.

“2019 was an extremely successful year for our growth and we are excited to be entering 2020 with our scheduled launch imminent, having fulfilled each step in our development plan over the past twelve months.”