Last week, Rob Hailstone, a legal expert and business-owner from Chudleigh in Devon, became the borrower of the billionth pound advanced through Zopa’s peer-to-peer lending platform.
The landmark was reached on 18 August after just over 10 years in business. For Rob, though, the loan containing the billionth pound was his first experience of borrowing through Zopa, or any other P2P lender for that matter.
Becoming the billionth-pound borrower
“I was looking to consolidate some of my existing debts and my financial adviser rang up three or four weeks ago and suggested looking at Zopa,” says Rob, 57. “In fact I had never really heard of peer-to-peer lending prior to that. But the system has been easy to understand and the process of getting my loan has been very straightforward.”
Rob has 30 years’ experience as a lawyer specialising in conveyancing on property sales. But a decade ago, he decided to set up a business providing new Home Information Packs (HIPs) for homebuyers. “Unfortunately, the coalition government decided to scrap HIPs – but I didn’t want to go back into conveyancing,” he explains.
Setting up a new business
Instead, Rob founded the Bold Legal Group, a company which provides information and guidance for other conveyancing firms. “This could be things like fraud alerts or details of decisions in recent cases.”
The investment needed to set up Bold meant that Rob had to borrow on credit cards and personal loans to cover some personal as well as business expenses in its early days. “Getting an enterprise like that off the ground during a recession was not easy,” Rob says. But the success of the firm means that he is now in a position to consolidate those loans with the help of Zopa.
“My adviser said that, as I am now getting a regular income, the time was right,” Rob says. “And it has been a great decision: the Zopa loan is saving me hundreds of pounds a month in interest repayments.”
Rob had considered borrowing through his existing bank. “But when I rang them up, they said I’d need to come into the branch for a meeting, and bring lots of documentation – not just copies of my bank statements. It seemed like it would take an age just to get a decision.”
With Zopa, Rob filled in an online application form, and exchanged a couple of emails and one phone call to clear up a couple of issues related to the fact that he had recently changed his bank account. “It was really very easy,” he says.
So how does it feel to be the borrower of Zopa’s billionth pound? Rob laughs and says: “Well, it has strengthened my resolve to become a billionaire myself!”