Behind the Scenes at Finsmart

Introducing John Zafar, Board Advisor

At Finsmart, we are passionate about working with experts. As well as our core team, this means that our advisors are integral to our development – both when looking at product, sales, marketing, fundraising and the business as a whole. 

Over the coming weeks we will introduce you to our senior team. Today, we meet John Zafar. 

What is your role with Finsmart? 

My role as Board Advisor mainly takes the form of supporting the founders in the key areas of challenge for early-stage fintech companies. 

Why do you think Finsmart is unique/special/one to watch?

The problem the founders are solving is one they’ve experienced directly in their careers in Investment Banking and Primary Capital Markets. The level of first-hand knowledge they have of what the pain points are for all stakeholders in primary capital markets gives them a credibility and sincerity in front of their customers that is extremely hard for others to replicate. We know that change is always difficult, but we also know that when it’s done well, it is transformational. That is our goal: to transform the stakeholder experience in Primary Capital markets through the application of digital technology. 

What will you personally bring to the table?

For the last twenty-two years I have worked as a CEO and NED with founders and investors in growing and selling businesses, creating over £150m of shareholder value in that time. I now work with a range of companies from start-ups through to investor backed companies turning over more than £100m per annum. This breadth of experience and the networks I’ve built up over time allow me to advise and add value across a number of scenarios and challenges that the SLT face as they scale Finsmart into becoming the dominant player in its market.

 What are the biggest challenges facing the industry? 

Overcoming inertia in terms of operational and technology driven change and transformation. This can manifest itself in many ways, but as we saw with the NHS when it was faced with the pandemic, very large institutions can change and transform dramatically in a short space of time when this is proactively led from the top. 

Where do you see Finsmart making a difference? 

Once DealPro, Finsmart’s PCM digitally integrated workflow platform, has established itself in the market, it’s my view that stakeholders will look back and ask themselves why they didn’t make the change earlier. There are so many different pain points that the Finsmart technology addresses, I think the user experience will be akin to going from an old mobile phone with very limited functionality, to using the latest smartphone, which has massive functionality. The difference it makes is going to be that profound. 

Where do you see Finsmart today, 5 years, 10 years? 

The near-term goal is to ensure that banks, issuers and data vendors in the PCMs are aware of Finsmart and the capabilities it has to transform their everyday lives in terms of the work these stakeholders carry out within the existing technology infrastructure being used today. 

In the future we are looking to ensure that DealPro is one of the go to systems that every stakeholder has running on their own desktop and mobile, alongside the other core systems used every day. 

Tell us a little about your background 

I’ve worked in a variety of sectors including Oil & Gas, Deep Tech, Executive Recruitment, Investment Banking, Healthcare, Healthtech, AI, Edtech and Fintech. For twenty years I have been a CEO leading companies through turnaround and rapid growth; for the last twelve years I have also been a NED on the board of a number of businesses. Today I work with several early-stage technology led ventures and some mid-cap companies. 

I’ve built and sold a number of companies on behalf of founders and private equity investors, generating over £150m in shareholder returns via these exits. Along the way I have also built a number of management teams, many of whom today are friends. 

I chair three companies:, Acton Banks Ltd and Your Game Plan Ltd. I am an NED of two others: The Barton Partnership and Rethink Group and I am a board advisor to and FinSmart. I am also a Trustee of a charity called Dallaglio Rugby Works, that supports children who are outside the mainstream education system. 

And when you’re not working!

Family, friends, skiing and supporting Arsenal take up the rest of my spare time. 

For more information about Finsmart or for a demo, please contact

The Finsmart Team