A pleasure to meet you!
2014 has already seen a number of new developments at Funding Circle, including the introduction of regulation, the announcement of additional funding by the Government-backed British Business Bank and the start of our tailored property loans for businesses. With the number of investors fast approaching 30,000 we wanted to host an investor evening to meet more of you in person, and hear first-hand about your experience of investing through Funding Circle.
Last Thursday we had the pleasure of meeting about 30 of you at our first event for investors. It proved to be a great forum for debate and feedback, with many interesting and useful points raised – we hope those that attended agree, and many thanks to you for giving up your time to come and say hello.
We appreciate that not everyone is able to travel to London, so we filmed the event and will be publishing a video shortly. In the meantime though, we wanted to write up some of the key themes discussed in a three part blog series. This first post will take a look at some of the key points raised during the credit assessment and analytics session.
Credit assessment & analytics
Rahul, our Head of Credit Analytics, and Ari, our Head of Underwriting, kicked things off with a discussion on our credit assessment process and the risk models we build to help us determine which businesses to list on the marketplace.
We discussed how these models ensure we remain within our estimated loss rate and why we’re constantly improving them so that only the most creditworthy businesses make it through to the credit assessment team. We also covered off our five-stage credit assessment process, and why ‘big data’ analytics, combined with a personal review of every application delivers superior credit performance.
Key things to come out of the Q&A included:
Q: How many pairs of eyes look at a single loan application?
A: Businesses go through a five stage credit assessment process at Funding Circle. Two of these are automated; the first is a credit model we have built and continue to improve following data from past performance of loans, and the fourth is a model which looks at whether the business meets the criteria for a Funding Circle loan. We manually assess stages 2, 3 and 5, and the sales, underwriting assistants, and underwriting teams respectively all work incredibly closely together to ensure that information is shared and assessed at each stage.
Q: Are you prepared for another economic downturn?
A: The answer to this is two fold. In terms of listing new loans on the marketplace, our risk bands are calibrated to target the expected annual loss rates that we publish on the site and this would not change in the event of a downturn. Loans that might have previously been listed as A+ would simply be listed as a B, for example, and loans that might have been listed as C- would be rejected.
In terms of our existing loan book, we take three factors into account when calculating the expected annual loss rate. The first is whether or not the business is expected to default. The second is the time at which the business defaults; for example a business which defaults after 1 repayment compared to a business who is unable to repay after 50 of 60 repayments will owe considerably more. The third factor is how much we expect to recover following the default. For both the second and third factors, we have taken a significant downturn into account and calculated the loss rate using stressed estimates.