As mortgage marketplace HashChing goes through a seismic change and looks to branch into new areas of focus, more details have been emerging about the sudden departure of its executive team.
Last week, The Adviser broke the news that the founder and the executive team of online mortgage marketplace HashChing had all left the company, with a new interim CEO taking the helm.
The founder and CEO of HashChing, Mandeep Sodhi, along with chief operating officer Siobhan Hayden and chief technology officer Vajira Amarasekera – all left the company at the end of May, as did several board members of the fintech.
While the new HashChing board and executive team have not yet been revealed, it has been announced that former BBY CEO Arun Maharaj has been appointed as CEO.
The company also revealed that it would look to expand the platform’s business into brokering small-to-medium business (SME) lending as well as financial advice.
However, several former members of the HashChing team have since voiced concern with the company’s solvency and preparedness for its future direction.
Indeed, several industry sources told The Adviser that they believed the company may be trading insolvent or near to insolvency given some delayed payments and that there were plans earlier this year to place the company into voluntary administration.
Further, former COO Siobhan Hayden told The Adviser: “I am still awaiting payment of my employee entitlements and to the best of my knowledge, the other executives are also.”
A statutory demand letter seen by The Adviser has also been sent to HashChing to demand payment of entitlements to the management team and to either pay the total amount or secure or compound for the total amount of the debt to their “reasonable satisfaction” within 21 days.
Concerns have also been raised by former HashChing members as to how capital is being injected into the company and an apparent lack of detail around the platform’s turnaround strategy to achieve its future growth.
Before the executive team left the company in late May, HashChing had been actively looking at new ways to fund its growth.
It was reportedly looking to raise funds via a crowdfunding exercise (following its failure to raise $5 million last year via the same means) and last year the mortgage marketplace sought financial assistance from Jobs for NSW in the form of a $700,000 loan to create new jobs and allow the company to invest in the resources required to continue “expanding rapidly”.
Cracks had started to show in the relationship between HashChing’s venture capitalists and the executive team at that time, when founder and CEO Mandeep Sodhi told The Adviser that dealing with Jobs for NSW was “much easier” than dealing with a venture capitalist.
However, in a statement issued to The Adviser last week, HashChing outlined that Sapien Ventures, together with the company’s second-largest institutional investor, Heworth Capital, will provide funding for the business at it expands to generate “convincing traction figures”, before going to the wider market for fresh growth capital later this year.
Several fintechs operating in the broking space are backed by venture capitalists, while others chose to eschew them.
Likewise, Athena Home Loans, founded by former NAB executives Nathan Walsh and Michael Starkey, revealed that it has closed its $25-million raise last year, which was led by Square Peg Capital.
Venture capital investor and industry super fund Hostplus and Australian venture firm AirTree also joined the round.
Others, such as Joust, actively chose not to go down the venture capitalist route, instead agreeing to a majority acquisition by houseandland.com.au earlier this year after failed crowdfunded raises.
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser, Australia’s leading source of news, opinion and strategy for mortgage brokers.
As well as writing news and features on the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker podcast and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
Before joining Momentum Media in 2016, Annie wrote for a range of business and consumer titles, including The Guardian (Australia), BBC Music Magazine, Elle (Australia), BBC Countryfile, BBC Homes & Antiques, and Resource magazine.
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