Funding Circle Hires Barclays, AmEx Executives to Oversee Risks

To help it expand the online market for small-business loans, Funding Circle is enlisting executives from established financial-services firms.

The lending platform said Tuesday that it hired Jerome Le Luel from Barclays Plc to be chief risk officer. The company also named former American Express Co. executive Manpreet Dhot to oversee risk for its U.S. operations. Le Luel, 44, once ran risk analytics at Barclays, while Dhot, 42, was a chief credit officer in AmEx’s Latin America business.

Funding Circle is among dozens of startups that are trying to make borrowing more efficient by building online marketplaces for loans. Often called peer-to-peer lenders, the companies match up consumer and small-business borrowers with investors who want to fund them. As the model gains popularity, some of the startups are turning to banking executives to improve risk models.

“We are investing really heavily in data analytics and data science to make sure we’re developing world-class systems,” said Sam Hodges, Funding Circle’s co-founder and the managing director of its U.S. unit. “Adding these folks is really going to help us bring those areas of the business to the next level.”

Le Luel also served as chief risk officer for Barclaycard, managing a 40 billion-pound ($62 billion) lending portfolio in the U.S., Europe and Africa. Prior to that, he worked at Capital One Financial Corp. in the U.K.

Funding Circle is on pace to arrange more than $1 billion in loans to small businesses globally this year, making the closely held firm one of the largest in the industry.

LendingClub Corp., the largest, also has hired executives from big financial firms. Its chief risk officer, Chaomei Chen, previously worked at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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