George Ashworth has left UK challenger bank Virgin Money after the bank decided to shelve its SME business lending unit, as revealed in its most recent results.

A spokesman for Virgin told Leasing Life: “As announced at our half year results on 26 July we decided that it would be prudent to defer our SME plans and focus our investment on enhancing our digital capability. As a result I can confirm that George Ashworth has decided to continue with his SME career elsewhere and has left Virgin Money.”

The spokesman said that Ashworth’s departure would not change its intention to develop a business lending unit in the future.

Ashworth joined Virgin Money as director of its intended SME business lending unit in November 2015, after a successful stint setting up and growing Dutch lessor ABN-Amro Lease UK, now headed by managing director Richard de Keijzer.

This year he featured in Leasing Life’s power 50 list of the top influencers in the European asset finance industry, the fourth time he has appeared in the annual list.

Ashworth has had a 39 year career in banking and leasing, starting at Barclays in 1977, entering into asset finance in 1989 as managing director of start-up IVM Finance, later bought by DLL. His career has taken him to DLL; captive lessor Crown Equipment Corporation; Lombard; Fortis Lease and Aldermore.

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By GlobalData