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Sceptical chartered accountant converted to brand champion after seeing momentum build among credible lenders

After surpassing £60 million of lending, ArchOver, the peer-to-peer (P2P) business lending platform, has announced it is aiming for profitability with Bill Johnston joining its board of directors as a non-executive director (NED). In his role, Johnston will support ArchOver in formularising its training and development programme, to ensure it has the right talent in place as it continues to scale.

“In the early days, I doubted ArchOver could succeed. It’s my job to distinguish between ambition and reality. While there is growing demand for alternative finance, it would only take one major player to fail and the whole sector would be at risk of big reputational damage”, commented Bill Johnston. “However, as ArchOver started to attract institutional investment, I was slowly converted. Based on rigorous monitoring of borrowers, ArchOver has built a significant client base of credible lenders making informed decisions about where to put their money. It is a business of substance, poised to move on to the next stage of growth. I am hoping to contribute to that development.”

Johnston will offer an external perspective and work with ArchOver employees to understand their career goals. Applying a strategic view, he will advise on what roles and responsibilities employees can assume as the business grows and any training ArchOver can deliver to help career progression.

“Not everyone gets P2P or ArchOver straight away. The fact that a chartered accountant – one that is not afraid to speak their mind – has become one of our biggest supporters shows how the perception of P2P is evolving to become a solid, credible form of lending, forming part of the financial services industry”, concluded Angus Dent, CEO of ArchOver. “As he starts to transition out of his role at Hampden, Johnston has requested to stay involved with ArchOver and act as a link between the two companies, helping install the skills and disciplines fundamental to our future growth.”

Johnston has had a distinguished career in the finance and accounting industry. An unusual alumnus of the University of Oxford (designated as a Distinguished Friend of Oxford, rather than a graduate), he sat on the training committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) for over a decade and has been group finance director for the Hampden Group since 2010. He was previously a managing director and partner at Seymour Taylor, an accountancy practice in High Wycombe, which audited Hampden Group and was absorbed by the company in 2009.

In his role at Seymour Taylor, Johnston acted as a virtual finance director, providing strategic advice and support to SMEs and entrepreneurs, supporting businesses in sectors such as manufacturing and telecommunications. Other positions Johnston has held include training consultant to the ICAEW, where he was responsible for authorising overseas firms to take on ICAEW students if they could demonstrate sufficient experience and provision of training tuition. He was also treasurer and chairman of Regent’s Park College, Oxford, and chairman of several medium-sized charitable organisations that plan to expand nationally.