Director and Co-Owner: Creditplus
Paul graduated from Loughborough in 1984 with a BSc in Economics with Accounting. He joined Creditplus in 2019, following an illustrious career spanning 35 years with the top global accountancy firms. Most recently, he was Global Head of Asset Finance at PwC, and concludes that cars are the most complex and interesting assets he’s financed.
Loughborough has always had a prestigious affiliation within economics and finance, but I was equally keen to continue playing basketball at university – something Loughborough was also well-regarded for. I had signed to play for Leicester-All-Stars at a time when Channel 4 launched a new TV channel and started sponsoring the English Basketball League on TV.
I chose Economics with Accounting as a degree as it suited my interest in business and analytics. I knew I wanted to train to be a Chartered Accountant when I graduated but longer term and I knew I wanted one day to lead a business – I waited quite a while for that ‘one day’ to arrive!
I wanted a firm foundation in economics and analytics (which Loughborough gave me) to ensure I could make reasoned decisions – the last 35 years of working with some of the largest corporations in the world has given me the experience to know which parts of the theory work and which parts need adapting to work in practice!
Looking back, choosing Loughborough was an amazing and lucky choice that has played a huge part in shaping who I am today. What I learned at Loughborough, paired with my subsequent ‘real-world’ experience, has been the perfect mix for me in tackling some of the largest funding projects in the UK and worldwide.
A degree from Loughborough – no matter what the course is – puts you in good stead and I’ve been fortunate to work with lots of alumni throughout my career.
As an alumnus, there is an impressive support network and on a recent visit to the campus, I enjoyed seeing current students learning and enjoying life on this amazing and inspiring campus, just as I once did.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study the same course that you did?
Even though the campus has changed since when I graduated, it still feels like ‘my university’ and I am so proud of that.
Since I graduated from Loughborough, its ranking as a one of the most prestigious universities to study at has improved year-on-year (hopefully this progress has nothing to do with me no longer being a student there!).
However, something I learned from living in New York and working with my colleagues there, is the value of building a network of friends and business acquaintances who will support and encourage you in your working life, as well as your personal life.
I would advise students to make the most of the opportunities presented to them to build a network of potential future work colleagues, not just friends; your fellow peers will be alongside you for decades to come. So, make friends, make future business contacts, have fun and work hard.
After graduating with my degree and the Adam Smith Prize for Economics, I began my career with the accountants Price Waterhouse in London. I passed my Chartered Accountancy exams first-time and spent eleven years learning the trade, including working in New York in 1995/96.
On returning to the UK, I had many offers to work at several banks and other accountancy firms and chose to join Arthur Andersen as a Partner. Andersen was acquired by Deloitte in the early 2000s and I continued to advance my career there, working in Asset Finance & Leasing.
I then came full-circle in 2007 and re-joined PricewaterhouseCoopers, which was known as PwC by then, as a Senior Partner. Shortly after that, I became Global Head of Asset Finance & Leasing where I regularly advised global corporations on major infrastructure projects, financing large assets such as aircraft and trains and many other types of assets, including large fleets of cars.
I became a 50% shareholder of Creditplus and joined the company as a full-time Director in January 2019.
I’d been looking for a new challenge after 35 years of working at the “Big 4”, the last 22 years as a Partner. I was offered an opportunity to buy into a chain of cafes (yes, I like coffee!), but I knew that asset finance was not only an area I had extensive experience in but it also had the growth potential I was looking for.
My business partner, Shaun Armstrong, built Creditplus from scratch; it was the first company in the UK to sell a used car online; that was 15 years ago and at a time when it was hard to sell a branded can of baked beans online!
There really is no such thing as a typical day at Creditplus. Much of my time is spent with Shaun looking at how we can seek out under-served areas of the used vehicle market, keeping abreast of technology (we are really a Fintech company or as I like to say, “Motech”) and supporting our amazing team of 100 people.
I love the fast-moving industry in which we operate and the endless number of opportunities we see ahead of us. We are in an industry in which the product (the car) is fast-changing as is the way people access the use of cars – cleaner, battery-operated vehicles will become mainstream as will autonomous (driverless) vehicles.
Vehicles are fast becoming mediums through which data can be collected (and sold) such as local weather conditions, locations and times frequented by drivers (enabling local businesses to market services to those drivers) and so much more.
But most of all, I get a real buzz when our company is the first to do something, be that selling a car online, launching our latest product or providing our customers with a highly automated customer journey so that they can order, finance and have their chosen car delivered to their doorstep without leaving their armchair.
Creditplus is based in Poole, on the South Coast, which is a fantastic place to live and work. I split my time between my homes in Central London and Sandbanks, as many of the lenders and companies we work with are London based.
It’s been a pleasure to join a company with such a bright future and to work with colleagues who share our passion for the company and who are equally excited by what the future holds for us.
Over the next five years, we plan to continue to build on our position as the most trusted online car finance and car supply company and to continue investing in our team, so that every person can be the best that they can be and work in an environment that inspires and challenges them to continually improve.
Later this summer, we are moving to a new office we recently purchased which is more than double the size of our current office, so there is plenty of room to expand. We are hoping to install a roof top bar for our team so that they can enjoy a beverage or two after work, over-looking Poole Harbour.
With a range of exciting opportunities on the horizon, I hope we’ll be looking back in five years’ time, proud of what we have achieved but having also enjoyed the journey!
There have been many amazing moments in my career, including advising corporations such as GE Capital on building a global asset finance business worth several hundreds of billions of dollars, advising the Government on the privatisation of British Rail and on structuring the financing of London’s new Super Sewer being built under the Thames.
I am incredibly proud to be part of Creditplus and in knowing that we help so many people to find a car at an affordable monthly cost, without which they would struggle to get to work, drive their children to school and to keep in touch with their family and friends.
We continuously strive to save our customers time, effort and money and it’s great to see the results of what we do in everyday life. I truly believe the proudest moment in my career is still to come!