OakNorth’s chief financial officer is due to step down next year, Sifted has learnt.

Cristina Alba Ochoa joined in March 2017 to manage OakNorth’s finances and expansion, as well as taking a seat on its board.

OakNorth — one of Europe’s top fintechs — confirmed Alba was stepping down as chief financial officer and from the bank’s board for personal reasons and would complete the last stages of her tenure in her native Spain.

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“Due to personal reasons, Cristina intends to move back to Barcelona to be closer to family. She will be moving there permanently in due course but will remain CFO at OakNorth for at least the next 12 months. We are currently seeking a replacement and will of course share information on this as soon as we have an update.”

The plan is for Alba to remain with the company in an unspecified role after the 12 month period, the bank added.

During her time at OakNorth Alba helped the UK bank reach profitability, lending sums of between £500,000 and £45m to mid-sized businesses.

She was also central to OakNorth securing its $2.8bn valuation last year, following a high-profile fundraising round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

Prior to joining OakNorth, Alba spent 18 years at GE Capital International.

Alba also did not reply to a request for comment.

OakNorth in Corona times

OakNorth launched in 2015, taking on high-street lenders with quicker loan provisions and digital-only customer care.

It established a reputation for making prudent lending decisions, boasting a zero default rate for its first four years; however, it suffered its first two defaults last year following Brexit uncertainty and a general election.

Now, the bank is braced for a slump in the UK economy following the coronavirus lockdown. Nick Lee, OakNorth’s head of regulatory affairs, told Sifted in April that it expected to see growth slow as a result. 

“We had pretty ambitious plans in terms of growing the loan book and obviously revenue. [But] the reality is we’re not going to hit those for obvious reasons,” he said. 

Nonetheless, Lee added that the company expects to retain its coveted status as one of the few profitable fintechs in Europe and remains confident it will continue its strong streak.

The fintech also white-labels out this credit-analysis technology to non-UK banks, which have shown “interest like never before”, according to Lee.

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