Wall Street Lobbyist to Head Online Lending Trade Group

  • Hoopes steps down from trade group Financial Services Forum
  • Marketplace Lending Association created earlier this year

Nat Hoopes, executive director of the trade group comprising the biggest Wall Street banks’ chief executive officers, is making the jump to fintech.

Hoopes will lead the Marketplace Lending Association, whose founding members include online lenders LendingClub Corp., Prosper Marketplace Inc. and Funding Circle Ltd, starting next month.

“This is an important moment for marketplace lending, and I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to build and grow an organization that will be a key resource in Washington," Hoopes said in an e-mailed statement.

He takes the helm at a challenging time for the fintech industry as policy makers consider tougher rules in response to the explosive growth of technologies that are transforming everything from small business lending to consumer payments. Online loan companies have been slowly building a presence in Washington in recent months, with a number of different groups forming. MLA was created in April to promote “responsible business practices and sound public policy."

Online lenders have tapped former bank regulators from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Treasury Department to sit on their boards as well as finance executives from banks including Morgan Stanley.

The MLA’s founders began about a decade ago, calling themselves “peer-to-peer” lenders. Their online platforms matched borrowers with wealthy individuals who wanted to fund them. Since then, large money managers, hedge funds and some Wall Street firms have begun buying the debt, leading the upstarts to rebrand as “marketplace” lenders.

The industry has come under increased scrutiny following scandal and market turmoil. LendingClub has been working to shore up confidence among investors since the San Francisco-based company’s founder and former CEO, Renaud Laplanche, resigned in May amid an internal probe into a botched loan sale that revealed weaknesses in controls.

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