Peer to peer loans trading – How our loan exchange can help investors

loans sign

Recently, our guest blogger, Katie, published her step by step guide to the FundingKnight loan exchange.

She was keen to point out that the loan exchange can be a great way to begin your FundingKnight journey.  After all, buying part of an existing loan (rather than bidding to get involved in a current auction) has several advantages:

You can start earning interest immediately

Since these loans are already live, your money starts working as soon as you “buy it now”.  No need to wait for an auction to end, no need to worry about getting out-bid and not having the chance to re-submit your offer.

It makes spreading your investment easier… and quicker

Most people agree that spreading out your cash (diversifying your portfolio) is a good idea.  It helps minimize risk because you reduce your exposure to any one loan failing.

But waiting for new loans to come on stream can be time consuming, particularly if you’re using a new platform with less loan traffic.

The loan exchange can help.

Instead of bidding on new loans, you can instantly buy parts of existing ones.  That gives you instant access to all the loans that were listed before you started investing and provides the perfect way to quickly spread your investment out thinly.

You can choose shorter investment periods

Existing loans have obviously been running for some time before you buy into them, in fact, some will only have months left to run – meaning that you enter loans knowing exactly what interest rate you’ll earn (assuming no defaults) and exactly when your investment will be repaid.

And of course, if you need to access your cash earlier than planned… you simply head back to the loan exchange.

Selling part of a loan is easy, too…

When it comes to selling part of your investment – perhaps because you want to switch to another loan or simply because you need to access your cash – we’ve tried to make things as simple as possible.

Rather than having to sell your whole loan in an “all or nothing” way, you can choose exactly how much of any investment you want to sell and whether you want to apply a discount or premium to the original price.

This flexibility can be useful if you want to invest a large sum into a loan but know that you’ll soon want to sell part of your investment and buy into newer loans to speed up diversification.

It’s a feature that Steve Lee – who featured in this  investor Q&A about peer to peer lending – singled out for particular praise.

We asked Steve, “are there any FundingKnight features you particularly like?” and this was his reply:

I’m impressed with the way that the loan exchange works, letting you buy and sell loan parts.  Say I have £500 to bid, I often want to do 5 x £100 bids at the same interest rate.  On most sites I have to do it manually five times and keep scrolling to the bid rate that on a tablet or phone is not easy. 

 

FundingKnight allows you to split up an investment and only sell part of it on the loan exchange, giving you the option to state exactly how much you want to sell at any one time.  In my opinion that makes it a superb solution, the best one available on any of the platforms I’ve used.

 

To visit the loan exchange, log on to www.fundingknight.com, choose Find a Loan from the menu on the left hand side and scroll down to see the loan exchange.  If you’ve not already signed up, register for free via the FundingKnight website and enjoy fee free crowdlending for investors.

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FundingKnight review: What makes us different for investors

being different

This week, a potential investor was kind enough to email us and ask what makes FundingKnight different?  She is keen to spread her investments over a wide range of products and wanted to know what unique differences set FundingKnight apart from other crowdlenders she uses.

We’ve sent a personal response with some answers but if one potential investor is asking the question, it obviously means that there are more of you out there who would like to know more about exactly what’s different about investing with FundingKnight.

So, here goes, a quick review of FundingKnight for lenders.  Feel free to check out the points below for yourself and gives us your thoughts – our door is always open to customer suggestions, tips and constructive feedback.

We lend to businesses not individuals

We arrange loans for businesses rather than people.

Why does it matter?  Deciding whether to invest in businesses or individuals is obviously a personal choice, but we think that the public information that’s available about businesses – such as accounts, cashflow analysis etc. – coupled with the internal and external credit checks we run, make it easier to assess whether a loan from a business is likely to be repaid successfully.

We offer fee free lending for investors

Investing through FundingKnight is fee free for investors.  There are no annual fees, account fees or hidden charges or costs, although of course, there might be tax to pay on any returns.  Many P2P lenders charge fees to investors..

Why does it matter?  It’s cheaper. Investors through us pay no fees, so the interest rate you bid is the interest rate you receive (pre tax and defaults).

We make it easy to sell part of your investment on our loan exchange

FundingKnight let you choose exactly how much of your portfolio you want to sell on the loan exchange.

For example,

You place a bid in a live auction, bidding to invest £1,000 in Apple Accounting Ltd. at 10% over 3 year loan period.

Your bid is successful, the auction completes and you now hold a £1,000 investment in Apple Accounting.  Each month you’ll receive a payment including capital and interest at 10% (prior to any tax and defaults).

A year later, you need to access some cash to finance some unexpected repairs.

You need £600 but you don’t want to cash in the whole of your investment, as you’d like to continue to receive 10% interest on the remainder.

With FundingKnight, you simply tell the system how much of your investment you want to sell, what price you want to offer it at and submit to put it live on the loan exchange.

One of existing investors, Steve Lee, recently called this feature “a superb solution, the best one available on any of the platforms I’ve used.”

You can invest everything that’s in your account

You don’t have to lend in ‘multiples’ on FundingKnight.  We do have a minimum investment of £25 but after that, you can add on whatever is left in your account to ensure that all of your cash is working as hard as it can for you.

For e.g. if you have £32.50 left in your account, you can invest it all rather than investing £25 and having to add more funds to release the remainder.

Finding borrowers and designing loans

Although we’re focusing on investors today, there are also several unique points about how we look after the businesses that borrow via FundingKnight.

  • We offer the chance to take upfront payment holidays, which can be very useful for businesses that need time for the loan investment to start flowing through into cashflow and profit.
  • We use forward – looking as well as historical information to assess applications and focus on how the loan will be repaid out of cash flow.
  • Investors will have access to a cash flow forecast for each loan, information that many P2P Lenders don’t provide.

Hopefully, that gives you some more detail about why crowdlending with FundingKnight offers a better way to lend money.

Please feel free to leave a comment with further questions or drop us an email at [email protected]

Straight from an investor’s mouth… the crowdlending experiences of one FundingKnight lender

customer satisfaction

Steve Lee is the MD of Jumbocruiser Ltd., the largest British owned luxury sleeper coach operator in Europe.  As he gets closer to retirement, he’s looking for ways to invest his spare cash effectively.

Since summer 2012, Steve has been actively participating in peer to peer lending using a variety of P2P / P2B platforms to invest funds on behalf of himself, his company Jumbocruiser Ltd., the Jumbocruiser Retirement Benefits Scheme (where allowed) and Spenion Unlimited.

Steve has recently become an active FundingKnight lender and has kindly agreed to share, in his own words, some of his thoughts about crowdlending:

FK:  When did you first start experimenting with peer to peer finance?

Steve:  Summer 2012

FK:  Other than FundingKnight, which websites do you use regularly?

Steve:  Funding Circle, Marketinvoice, Thincats.  I also have interests in Zopa and Ratesetter that I am running down.

FK:  You’ve recently started lending through FundingKnight, a relative newcomer in the P2P space.  What do you need to see from a new entrant before you are willing to invest?

Steve:  I always look up the company history and look at the track record of the people behind the company and do a bit of research in the same way I might if investing in shares or loans on other platforms.  When it comes to loans on the platforms, I am slowly learning to use common sense as well.  On one platform I bid £5,000 on a company that was set up just to do a major conference with global speakers (i.e. Bill Clinton) designed for budding entrepreneurs.  This was before I looked at the project carefully.  On reflection I realised I should never have placed the bid as the opportunity was fraught with danger – who was going to cough up £250 to hear people with no entrepreneurial skills like Bill Clinton speak?  I am more careful now and as a minimum I get a credit rating and require a track record of the people involved and even then spread myself out thinner initially.

FK:  Why does P2P finance appeal to you?  Is it solely about the return on investment or does helping small businesses / getting more involved in actively managing your money matter too?

Steve:  I have to apologise but despite being a former hippy activist, I do not do it for the kharma but merely due to the fact that I need to invest my spare cash effectively before I retire.  I believe there is a short term window of opportunity until the government and banks get their acts together where I can overall hit around the 10% return mark before tax and I am taking advantage of it.

FK:  Are there benefits to be had from dealing with smaller companies like P2P lenders rather than big, mainstream banks?

Steve:  It depends on (a) rates and (b) security required when lending to profitable businesses.  For new businesses P2P will probably remain the ONLY way to get capital invested.  There are many lenders out there who will do auto-lending, so those loans will be covered once they get past the platform’s own initial evaluation for loan acceptance. Nearly all my failed loans (on other platforms) were auto-lent so I no longer do that but some people just do not have the time to mess around so I still see a value in auto-bidding for the lenders and the platforms and the borrowers.

FK:  Are there any FundingKnight features you particularly like?

Steve:  I’m impressed with the way that the loan exchange works, letting you buy and sell loan parts.  Say I have £500 to bid, I often want to do 5 x £100 bids at the same interest rate.  On most sites I have to do it manually five times and keep scrolling to the bid rate which on a tablet or phone is not easy.

FundingKnight allows you to split up an investment and only sell part of it on the loan exchange, giving you the option to state exactly how much you want to sell at any one time.  In my opinion that makes it a superb solution, the best one available on any of the platforms I’ve used.

FK:  What would you say to potential investors wondering whether to try P2P Finance?

Steve:  Spread your loans thinly.  Look at who you are lending to.  Feel comfortable about the lending platform that you will initially be sending your money to.  Do not be greedy and bid a lot on loans which have high interest rates but carry a bigger risk.  Subscribe to a database like Company Check and if things look to be going downhill, do not delay selling on a secondary market (loan exchange) even if you are getting a high rate of return.

It is quite difficult to lend out a lot of money quickly so use a site with a secondary market (loan exchange) and accept lower rates for now so you all get all your money lent out and then slowly sell the loan parts when rates are higher elsewhere.  It is a juggling act but it can be done.

FK:  Thank you Steve, we really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with the FundingKnight blog.  Good luck with your crowdlending investments in the future.

Note: The answers above represent Steve’s own personal views and opinion and in no way constitute advice.

More about Steve:

Steve Lee is MD of Jumbocruiser Ltd, one of Europe’s leading sleeper coach companies with coaches from 8 to 16 passengers.  If you are interested in finding out more, please use the online quote form to get in touch.

Crowdlending helps North West business grow

scanning machine

Whilst the UK digests the news that Britain may be heading for a triple-dip recession, Secure Archive Solutions are proving that it doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom for the UK’s small businesses. The business is going from strength to strength proving viable businesses throughout the UK need investment for growth.

Mick Collins, Founder of Secure Archive Solutions said,

“It’s great that small businesses like us can find new ways to get the funding we need. We’ve got big plans for the future and know we can grow profitably with the right small business finance in place.  FundingKnight provide a fast, flexible service. Our loan was live on their website within a week and is already nearly 40% funded.”

Secure Archive Solutions credits expansion into new areas such as scanning as being a key source of growth, and are backed by a strategic vision to find innovative ways to help the company grow profitably and sustainably.

Secured Archive Solutions launched a new round of funding on www.fundingknight.com at the end of last week and the loan is already 40% funded, demonstrating a healthy interest from investors.

The loan still has nine days left to run so if you’d like to get involved simply add funds to your FundingKnight account and go to Find a Loan to place a bid.  If you’ve not yet signed up with FundingKnight head over to register as a lender.  It’s entirely free to join, there are no fees for taking part in a loan and you can start lending with an investment of £25 or more.

New crowdlending opportunity: Secure Archive Solutions Ltd.

SAS Ltd logoA new investment opportunity is now live on our website for all registered lenders to bid on.  If you’re already registered with FundingKnight you can log straight into the website to read all about the loan opportunity, review the financial information and, if you wish, place a bid.  If you’re new to crowdlending or not yet signed up with FundingKnight simply go to www.fundingknight.com to sign up as a lender.  You can start investing with £25 and we charge no fees for taking part in a loan.Whilst it’s early for us to predict rate which potential lenders will achieve, our first auction-based loan provided lenders on average with a rate of 9.98% p.a.

New borrower: Secure Archive Solutions Limited

Amount: £50,000

Period: 2 years

Auction duration: 14 days

Based in Altrincham, Cheshire, Secure Archive Systems provides document storage and archive facilities, offering bespoke solutions in the document management service sector, with a turnover of over £400,000 in the last financial year.It needs the funds to extend its storage capability, installing racking in its newly acquired warehouse, building an extension to its vault, and upgrading its IT.

Once registered, you can find more details by logging on to www.fundingknight.com and choosing Find a Loan.

 

Crowdfunding accountants: Invest in abacus Franchising

abacus franchising logo

New loans are now live on the FundingKnight website, offering the chance to start investing in abacus Franchising.

Abacus is a national network of qualified accountants, supporting small businesses in all aspects of accountancy and taxation.

There are two separate auctions providing a chance to invest in British business:

1 – year loan of £20,000

3 – year loan of £30,000

Each loan will be crowdfunded, using the FundingKnight investment community to attract investors.

You can start investing with as little as £25 and peer to peer lending is fee free with FundingKnight.

To lend to British business you need to register as a FundingKnight investor.  Once that’s done, you simply log onto www.fundingknight.com and choose Find a Loan to start investing.

You decide what to invest in, you decide the rate that you want to bid and you have the chance to access your cash whenever you need it by selling or all or part of your investment to a new lender via the FundingKnight loan exchange.

Read about the abacus loans below, or for full financial analysis and information log onto the FundingKnight website.

Business seeking funding: abacus Franchising Company Limited

Loan 1:

Amount: £20,000

Period:  1 year, repayable in 12 installments

Loan 2:

Amount: £30,000

Period:  3 years, with a 3 month repayment holiday

Auction duration:

Fast track auction of up to 14 days, to close when both loans have been filled at the reserve interest rate.

Reason for loan:

Expansion, following new contract awarded by Scania GB.

Business background:

Incorporated in 2004, abacus has developed a national network of qualified accountants who support SME businesses with all aspects of accountancy, taxation and administration functions.  The network has over 3,000 clients. Its collective fee income would make it one of the top 100 accountancy firms in the UK. Abacus is the only national accountancy franchise for qualified accountants approved by the British Franchise Association.

The loan is to provide finance to support the expansion of the business following an award of a new alliance with Scania GB to provide services to its customers.

Find out more, or search for new loan opportunities by registering as an investor with FundingKnight.

The State of Innovation in UK Insurance

Bought by Many

Today, we’re delighted to welcome Steven Mendel, Co-Founder & CEO of Bought By Many to the FundingKnight blog.  Here’s his guest post taking a look at the state of innovation within the UK insurance industry.

You might think the competitive insurance industry would embrace innovative insurance products such as peer to peer insurance to demonstrate its commitment to financial innovation.  However, evidence suggests that the sector is resting on its laurels.  It has mainly demonstrated a slow response to the evolving needs of customers, despite technology offering new ways to service customers and access data to provide more sophisticated and personalised premium options.  Marketing on the basis of price sensitivity is no longer enough.  Consumers are increasingly looking for excellent customer service and convenience.

PWC’s recent Future of Insurance report supports this view.  Customers are demanding ease of interaction through technology and greater flexibility from the insurance sector.  It suggests that data trawling of social networking sites can give the industry new knowledge on the behaviour, desires and buying power of existing and potential customers.  In fact, the report even goes so far as to say that sensor technology could help to evaluate the health of policyholders and identify problems earlier, leading to reduced liabilities and lower premiums.  So where is the big debate on these potential developments within the insurance industry?

As insurance companies are essentially in the business of using data to calculate quotes, it is easy to conclude that social networks would offer a tantalising opportunity for them to drive a personalised marketing strategy.  Many other businesses have already harnessed the power of Facebook.  The question is: why has the insurance industry largely ignored its potential?  The travel industry has already embraced booking apps, online day itinerary services and social media integration to encourage consumer demand in an economically challenging market.

Friendsurance, a small company in Germany, is innovating in the area of shared insurance, where small policies can be shared among a circle of friends, thus reducing the cost.  Granted, Germans are renowned for the level of insurance that they have but this represents a novel way of groups of, say, students or neighbours, getting better value on parts of their insurance.  However, there is no sign of the insurance industry embracing this idea in a cash poor consumer market or taking advantage of shared networks across the internet. This is where Bought By Many comes in, through linking collaborative consumption with social media, to try and update the insurance world – which should benefit insurers, through the creation of grouped risk, and consumers, with better value offerings. Their intention is to make insurance social, no small task.

Another route for innovating in the insurance world is through smart phones.  Given their pace of evolution in every day working lives, it is inevitable that customers will want to start the claims process for scenarios such as car accidents or minor home contents damage on their mobile phones.  There is some sign of a shift in this direction, although not across the board.  It looks as if the US insurance industry is pushing the boundaries of technology more, with the likes of State Farm’s Pocket Agent and American Family Insurance’s My AmFam.

In the UK, Aviva offers an app for the iPhone that allows car insurance customers to start their claim on their phones but another huge player, Axa, currently only gives customers one option – an 0844 phone number.  More insurance companies need to adapt apps such as MotorMate, devised by Confused.com to deliver data on a driver’s behaviour, for the purposes of offering personalised car insurance quotes.  Given that the newspaper and music industries – not exactly known for their embrace of the digital era – have transformed the way they deliver their products to the smart phone audience, the insurance industry seems to be lagging behind.

Price comparison websites have brought the issue of transparency to the fore in the insurance sector but companies themselves are coy when it comes to comparing their prices with competitors.  Perhaps some of the larger insurers should learn from a feature on the Esurance website, another US based company, that provides a quote and compares it against rates from other insurers.

The industry’s constant focus on physical damage and loss situations is frequently criticised.  As the commercial world becomes increasingly dependent upon the value of information and knowledge, it is time for the insurance sector to adapt and provide new emphasis on financial and information risk management.  New ways of thinking are needed if the insurance industry is to be able to call itself innovative.

If the insurance industry fails to adapt, the development of new technology could open up opportunities for small, niche companies to offer products to consumers.  Think about how the publishing world is being cracked open by self-published authors who need little more than their talent and access to Amazon’s Kindle store to build their name and income.  The same thing could happen, albeit it to a lesser extent, in the insurance industry.  The industry is famous for its risk-averse nature so, while it has become more efficient within its existing markets, it has failed to develop new ways of doing business.

Although the prospects appeared to be mixed, I am optimistic for the future of the industry.  A survey by Gartner in late 2010 on IT development in the global insurance industry revealed that investment is low but that senior managers are expecting huge changes in IT over the next five years to create that all-important competitive edge.  There is a sense, however, that insurance companies have been driven into these changes rather than because of a desire to offer a different experience to their customers.  The time has come for the sector to look at the travel and leisure industries, then, to see what their future could look like.

Steven Mendel is Co-Founder & CEO of Bought By Many, a start-up enabling communities to club together to buy insurance. Twitter: @stevenmendel

Peer lending and Crowdfunding praised by Bank of England’s Andy Haldane

the Bank of England

Perhaps an industry knows it is on to something when someone who confesses to being “congenitally pessimistic about most things in life” admits to being really optimistic about its future… Certainly, the latest comments from Andy Haldane, director of financial stability at the Bank of England will be music to the ears of peer to peer lenders in the UK.

Speaking to the Independent in an interview published today, Andy Haldane told Margareta Pagano of his bright hopes for the future of crowd lending:

“It’s a time of opportunity knocking for finance.  Hopefully, the growth of peer-to-peer lenders, such as Zopa, Funding Circle and Thin Cats, and those involved in crowd-funding, such as Crowdcube, will help solve the problems we have in the UK with lending for SMEs.”

Haldane went on to explain how he thinks online technology has “the potential to transform finance and fill the gap left behind by the big high street banks which have little appetite for taking on risk in lending to SMEs.”

You can read the full article “Bank supremo: Peer-to-peer lending is a good reason to be cheerful” in the Independent, or start peer to peer lending yourself by registering as a lender at FundingKnight and taking part in one of our live peer to peer loan auctions.

 

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P2P online auctions… how rational are you?

waiting for the hammer to fall

If you haven’t already visited http://www.p2pmoney.co.uk you should put it top of you P2P to-do list.  It’s an independent website dedicated to comparing UK peer to peer lenders and keeping avid fans happy with a pretty steady torrent of news and updates.

I’ve been lucky enough to get the opportunity to contribute a few guest blogs over on the P2pmoney blog and this week’s is P2P Online Auctions: Waiting for the hammer to fall.

It’s a short piece about how irrational people can potentially get when overcome with the frenzy of auctions – and designed to coincide with our first loan auction on the FundingKnight P2P Loan platform.

If you’re interested in how auctions can mess with your minds head over for a look.

Peer to peer loan descriptions: What’s in a name?

analysis

I’m an avid reader of the Lend Academy blog by Peter Renton, in fact, I recently reviewed his book about Lending Club, The Lending Club Story on the Funding Knight blog.

One of the reasons I love Lend Academy is the amount of information and analysis on offer for P2P enthusiasts.  Yes, it’s focused on the US market but it never fails to get me thinking…

This week, it’s the a guest post called Loan Descriptions – Can They Be Helpful When Choosing Loans? that has caught my eye.  Written by Sam Kramer, a financial sector old-timer and keen P2P investor (You can find him on Twitter @P2P_CT), the post delves into historical data to investigate whether the loan description that introduces a P2P loan is at all predictive of its eventual repayment rate i.e. can you predict which loans will default simply by reading their name?

Well, I won’t let all of the results out of the bag, you should head over to Lend Academy to read the full post for that (and subscribe since this is just the opener in a 2 -part guest slot) but here’s a taster to whet your appetite.

chart tracking default rate by loan description length

Default rate by loan description length

Top level analysis: Very short loan descriptions (between 1 and 10 characters) have a reasonably high default rate.  (Note, interestingly, no-description loans have a lower-than-average default rate, as do short loan descriptions of 11 – 350 characters).

The post goes on to look at the impact of longer descriptions as well as drawing attention the the impact that recency of loans will have – if no-description loans are a relatively new thing, then logic says they’ll have a lower default rate since less of them will have grown to maturity.

This latter point is relevant for virtually every piece of analysis you’ll see about peer to peer lending as the whole industry is so young.  Finding a way to compare default rates of very young ‘unseasoned’ loan books with the much more mature lending portfolios of mainstream banks could throw up some interesting analysis… any volunteers?