Responsible Small Business of the Year: Salary Finance, a small business with a big social purpose

Award Type: 

  • £29.7m - total loans taken out by 11,800+ employees since 2016
  • £7.6m - total savings achieved by avoiding interest payments
Winner

Salary Finance, a small business with a big social purpose, is the Small Responsible Business of the Year.

Action 

The mission of Salary Finance is simple, to accelerate an employee’s journey from debt to savings, and thereby improving their financial and mental wellbeing. “We want a world where money does more good for more people,” says Asesh Sarkar, the CEO and co-founder of the business whose other founders include Dan Cobley, former managing director of Google UK & Ireland, and Daniel Shakhani, a social impact entrepreneur, 

“We partner with progressive, forward-thinking employers, who want to make people’s lives better by helping their employees pay off debts faster and get on the path to savings and a financially secure future.”

Salary Finance exists for good reason. A quarter of people working in the UK right now are experiencing financial insecurity, and eight million of us have no savings at all.  These financial burdens impact us in other ways; 67% of employees who find things financially difficult report at least one sign of poor mental health, compared to 41% of those who are financially comfortable.

The business, which picks up the Small Responsible Business of the Year Award 2018,  responds to these growing social problems by helping people avoid payday loans and high-cost credit. At no cost, it lends money at lower interest rates thanks to its reduced operational costs, compared to traditional lenders.  It will lend money to employees, even if they have a low credit rating.

The business also helps people with budgeting, affordability and savings, limiting loans to 20% of an employee’s salary with capped 3-year terms to reduce the overall cost of debt and time spent paying it off.

So, what progress and impact has it made so far? Since 2016, over 11,800 employees have taken out loans totalling 11,800+ employees – and 49% are for debt consolidation. This resulted in borrowers saving almost £7.6 million in interest payments, with each employee customer saving an average of £600 in interest, helping them to get out of debt 6 to 12 months sooner.

Salary Finance works with more than 60 employers, like Marianne Hernandez, a social worker at Hackney Borough Council. “I’d been living in my overdraft for a few years, and it was really starting to get me down,” she says. “Using Salary Finance has been a massive relief for me. Now I'm out of my overdraft and I've recently started looking into saving.”

The company says that it is able to remain competitive thanks to the efficiencies of its digital administration system and platform. It was able to work with the UK’s second largest employer in less than two months, integrating with its existing platforms. Employees can use the company’s online system to apply for borrowing or savings products in less than six minutes. It is a digital platform that has been recognised, with Salary Finance named as one of the 20 Most Innovative Digital Companies in the UK and Loan Provider of the Year 2017 at the MoneyAge Awards.

The company has a number of developments in the pipeline for 2018 and beyond, including interest-free loans for graduates, the ability to actively repay customers’ creditors through Direct Debit consolidation, a Salary Advance service,  allowing low-earners to draw down on what they have earned part way through their pay cycle.

“We stand for people, not numbers,” adds Sarkar. “And we’re proud to be a company underpinned by a social purpose.”