We spoke to Michael May, Founder of start-up firm Secured Lending Audit who look at clients loans or mortgages to see if they are being overcharged.
What do you currently do?
I am Founder and Director at start-up commercial firm Secured Lending Audit. As a team, we work on business customers’ behalf to audit their loans or mortgages to establish if there has been any mismanagement which has resulted in fees or interest being overcharged. This must be on a live loan or mortgage, or a loan or mortgage which has been paid off in the last six years. If after an audit it is established there has been any mismanagement during the life of the loan or mortgage, we report details of this back to the borrower.
Using our team of commercial litigation expertise, we then go to work to reclaim the current value of the error on behalf of our clients. I have always believed in being fair and doing what I can to help, so unless there is a fee to be reclaimed, we don’t charge for the initial service.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
There’s always a regular stream of news focusing on how banks and lenders have broken the trust between themselves and their customers, either by bending or completely breaking the rules. So, I thought I would explore the commercial finance sector, paying particular attention to the lack of regulation by the FCA.
When banks were self-regulating, some behaved badly by developing and offering far from fair products, which was often at a cost to the business owner in the long run. Despite being regulated by the FCA, there are still areas of concern which customers may not recognise and in the unregulated market of commercial finance, there is little remit for customers to challenge their lender. I wanted to bring to market a specialist service which enables borrowers to challenge their lender if and when they have been overcharged.
You see, due to the lack of regulation customers may be under the impression that their lender is taking every precaution possible to ensure they operate to the highest standards, which is of course true for FCA regulated lenders, but for those not, it is not an obligation to do so. Therefore, there’s often a lack of investment in internal compliance, auditing and infrastructure.
What defines your way of doing business?
In my eyes, businesses operations should always be fair and in the best interest of the customer. My mission with Secured Lending Audit is to ensure there is a level playing field for borrowers.
It is incredibly difficult for a customer to get a bank to either admit they did something wrong or pay them back for doing something wrong without evidence of the issue. Using the bespoke software that has been developed for SLA, I want to be the person who challenges this behaviour.
What do you admire?
Fairness in business, always. I am passionate about doing something which makes a difference to the business community and respect others who share the same mindset. I admire anyone who overcomes challenges for the greater good.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
As the business is still very young, I’ve not had that much time to reflect. However, at the moment, I’d have to say I wish I had invested in the business model earlier in order to prevent more businesses being subjected to bad practice.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
If you think there is a business opportunity, then go for it. I have invested quite a lot in the business and if for whatever reason it doesn’t work, I will have at least tried. If I never tried it, I’d kick myself in 5 years’ time when lenders publicly get into trouble for over charging interest.