Laird London: Hats off to business owners Alex and Zofia

Laird Hatters opens new shop in Covent Garden

Last month we were in Covent Garden visiting the latest Laird Hatters shop and we met owners Alex and Zofia Torun-Shaw. The husband and wife team sell traditional English caps and hats but with an approachable, modern twist. Alex, who studied at London College of Fashion, says “you can have a nice coat, nice shoes… but a great hat really distinguishes you. As my dad always says, ‘Get ahead, get a hat’.”

Laird Hatters London Shop

Set up in 2008, in the midst of the recession, Alex and Zofia wanted to offer an antidote to the usual homogeneous high street which they have achieved with their selection of handmade British hats. The couple now have six stores and have recently expanded their main retail premises in Covent Garden. Furthermore, Yoko Ono, Keira Knightley and Stephen Fry are said to be big fans.

Funding Circle investor Richard has been lending to hundreds of UK businesses through the marketplace for 3 years and Laird Hatters is one of them. We took Richard to meet Alex and Zofia to see how his money directly helped the business to grow. He said ‘having my money go to businesses that need money is important.’

Laird Hatters has borrowed £140,000, across two business loans, from more than 2,000 Funding Circle investors to expand their range of handmade hats and caps.

In this short video you’ll meet Alex, Zofia and Richard, hear how Laird Hatters became closely linked to the fashion industry and why they pride themselves on their shops being an experience.

Are you interested in lending to businesses?

You can support businesses like Laird Hatters and earn a great return. It takes minutes to sign up online and you can use our investor information guide to help you get started. We have thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Do you need a business loan?

More than 9,000 businesses in the UK have accessed  finance from the marketplace, helping them with cashflow, refurbishment and much more. You can check if your business qualifies to apply online in just 30 seconds.

Improving our loan communications to investors

Over the last few months we have been looking at how we can further improve the information we share with investors regarding defaulted loans.

As you may be aware, in March we launched a RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating system, also known as a Traffic Light system, in the Loan Comments in your summary page. Our Collections & Recoveries team provide regular detailed updates on loans currently late or in default where there has been a material development. So far, the feedback we have received from investors has been positive with many telling us they find the RAG system very helpful.

A summary email

As part of our goal to continue to improve communications around defaults, this month we have also started including a summary of your account within your monthly newsletter.

This includes:

– Your average return after fees and bad debts up to the end of preceding month (i.e. June)

– The number of businesses you were lending to

– The number of defaults you experienced in the last month, if any

– The total exposure of your overall investment this represents

This information, together with the RAG rating system will now replace the bad debt communication emails that are sent out each time a default happens. These emails will be phased out over the next month.

Together, these changes provide a regular, comprehensive overview of your account activities. Investors will not receive any less information regarding their accounts than before, as all information regarding loans is included in your summary page. We will continue to default loans on a Thursday and investors can see most recent defaults by reviewing comments in their summary page from noon every Thursday.

Introducing a live Q&A

In addition to these changes, we also want to provide you with a more direct way to communicate with our Collections & Recoveries team. From August, Andrew Jackson, our head of Collections & Recoveries will host a live Q&A every month. He will answer any questions around specific loans you have, and provide you with a general update on the team’s statistics.

If you would like to submit a question, please contact community@fundingcircle.com. Due to data protection, all questions regarding loans must not contain the businesses name, so in your questions, please refer to any business by its loan ID.

The Funding Circle team

 

Introducing a third ISA: What does it mean for Funding Circle investors?

Funding Circle’s new Innovative Finance ISA can be found here

Last week, during the Summer Budget 2015, the Chancellor confirmed a third ISA, the ‘Innovative Finance ISA’, which will allow lending through marketplaces such as Funding Circle to be held within an ISA from 6th April 2016. This is fantastic news for investors who will soon be able to lend up to £15,000 per year tax free.

Funding Circle co-founder James Meekings said the “inclusion of peer-to-peer lending within ISAs is a pivotal moment for our industry.”

The change follows HMRC’s consultation earlier this year, and is another sign that lending through marketplaces is becoming a mainstream way for individuals to earn attractive returns on their money. We calculate that if just 3% of ISA money is channelled through Funding Circle, it would create £1.5 billion of new lending to small businesses annually, creating 75,000 new jobs.* This ISA will sit alongside the traditional cash ISA and stocks & shares ISA as a third option.

What does this mean for investors?

This third ISA will give investors more flexibility and allow for a higher level of diversification, as you will be able to choose how best to allocate your £15,000 ISA limit across the three types of ISA.

It will also mean that Funding Circle can become an ISA manager. With Funding Circle as an ISA manager, you will be able to own all of your investments yourself, rather than investing through a third party ISA manager. This will give you greater control over your investment and keep you closer to the small businesses you lend to, as well as allowing you to avoid paying additional fees to an intermediary.

When and how do I start using my ISA allowance?

Further information about how the ‘Innovative Finance ISA’ will work in practice will be published later this year, including whether investors will be able to transfer existing investments into the new ISA. We will keep you up to date with any developments on the blog, however our recommendations to the Treasury on how the ISA should work can be found in our Lending ISA blog post.

Will you be taking advantage of the new ISA from April next year? Let us know your thoughts below.

*Independent research by government think tank Nesta found that businesses that receive a loan through Funding Circle employ on average 11 people, and see an average increase in employment of 27 per cent after receiving finance.

A fantastic benefit from our partner, Virgin Trains | Weekly Lending Review

Week 28: 6 – 10 July 2015

Earlier this year we announced our partnership with Virgin Trains, and brought members of the Funding Circle community 20% off train travel on the Virgin Trains West Coast Mainline. We’re pleased to announce the offer has been extended until 29th December 2015. You can read more about the announcement, and how to book on the blog.

New loans available to you

There are currently 75 loan requests on the marketplace which are all available for you to lend to.

The total value of new loans listed on the Funding Circle marketplace was £11,599,200, averaging at £59,002 per loan. The largest loan value was £500,000 and the smallest loan value was £5,000.

Business loans still available for bidding on for the next 3 days or more:

Weekly marketplace trends

These graphs show the most recent activity on the marketplace. The average gross yield graph is reported weekly and shows a rolling two week average of gross yields. This calculation assumes you reinvest your interest each month and therefore includes the compound interest you earn. Number of loans, value of loans and amount lent are reported weekly. The dates on the graph should be read as ‘week beginning’, for example: 6-July represents the week of 6th – 10th July 2015.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)

WLR 28 - yield

Number of listed loans per week

WLR 28 - listed

Listed loan value per week

WLR 28 - loan value

Total amount lent

WLR 28 - amount lent

Loan parts available to buy from other investors

WLR 28 - loan parts 2

News you should know

Lend to more businesses in these 3 easy steps.

Following the introduction of the E band, you may wish to update your autobid settings by following the 3 easy steps below. You can read more about our new risk band on the blog.

(1) Log back into your account and navigate to Autobid.

(2) If your Autobid is on:

Take a note of your current settings
Click ‘Turn Autobid Off’
Use the ‘Advanced Settings’ to include the E risk band
Click ‘Turn Autobid On’

(3) If your Autobid is off:

Use the ‘Advanced Settings’ to include the E risk band
Click ‘Turn Autobid On’

Providing more information around defaulted loans

If you have any defaulted loans you may have noticed we apply a RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating system, also known as a traffic light system, in the loan comments on your dashboard. This is to help you assess the quality of your defaulted loans, and your expected return over a certain period of time.

Loan defaulted last week

E-cigarette supplier. Loan 11038. Risk band B

This Cardiff business has been running since 2011, and is entering insolvent liquidation. All affected investors have been notified.

Our collections and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts for all of these loans. Read how our collections and recoveries process works on our blog.

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

 

Funding Circle & Sage announce partnership to support more small businesses

We’re delighted to announce our new partnership with Sage, one of the world’s leading providers of software solutions for small businesses.

Sage provide a range of invaluable business tools including software for accounts, payroll, HR and payments, and has in excess of 6 million customers worldwide.

The tie-up involves Sage referring their small business customers to Funding Circle in cases where their customers are in need of business finance.

We believe that signposting alternative finance providers from such a trusted brand will help to raise the profile of the options now available to business owners, and bring more lending opportunities to the 40,000 Funding Circle investor community.

This partnership follows our agreement with Santander last year, who are also referring their business customers to Funding Circle where we are better placed to help.

Are you helping transform a former school into family homes?

Last month we met Jonathan Jay, director of Birchmead Homes Limited, at the former Abbey School in Gloucestershire. A former retail banker, Jonathan turned his hand to property development 15 years ago and is currently part-way through converting 19 homes in the idyllic market town of Tewkesbury.

Birchmead Homes Property Development

The local community has welcomed the project as the building, which overlooks the magnificent Tewkesbury Abbey, had become an eyesore. The project has even been featured in the local press, for example the Gloucestershire Echo.

Jonathan has borrowed more than  £2 million from 21,000 Funding Circle investors since July 2014 to develop the school building, and already has 70 potential buyers.

In this short video you’ll meet Jonathan, and have an understanding of how your lending is helping to build homes across the UK.

Property development loans were available between April 2014 and April 2017. If you work in the property industry and are looking for finance, we may still be able to help you with an unsecured loan up to £350,000 with a personal guarantee, or a secured loan up to £1 million.

Get an instant quote online or speak to our dedicated team today on 0800 048 8747.

Why you can’t ignore the rise of mobile friendly websites

You’ve probably seen headlines with statistics about the growing proportion of our lives now dedicated to technology, or you’ve noticed the average person on the street glued to their mobile phone. Whether you surf the web while you walk, talk or eat, it’s safe to say that mobile phones, and the way we interact with the internet, is now integrated into our daily lives.

UK adults now spend an average of 2 hours, 26 minutes a day on mobile devices according to research from eMarketer, up almost fivefold since 2011. They also forecast that the average time spent searching online using a mobile phone will surpass time spent at a desktop or laptop later this year.

What does ‘mobile optimised’ really mean?

A website that is optimised for mobile is designed specifically to be read and navigated on a mobile phone (rather than a shrunken version of a website designed for desktop). For example, a mobile friendly site will have easy to use ‘finger friendly’ buttons. If you aren’t sure where to start, Google has an easy to follow guide to help make your website look great on mobile.

What does this mean for small businesses?

Consumers are searching for businesses while on the go and want to find shops, restaurants and bars near to where they happen to be. This provides a great opportunity for small businesses as they can now pinpoint customers in their local area.

mobile friendly business“People searching in their local area are more likely convert

Curious to understand the search activity of potential business customers Google undertook an independent study. It concluded that people searching in their local area are more likely to be ready to act and so convert better than non-local searchers.

In February this year Google also announced a new algorithm for browsing on a mobile device. This update, which came into effect on 21 April, means people searching on mobile will only see the most popular and mobile friendly websites. For example, Funding Circle borrower Cable & Cotton’s mobile friendly website ranks highly if you search ‘fairy lights’ in Brighton.

On the flip side, businesses who have not yet optimised their website for mobile might have seen a decrease in traffic since April as their website’s Google ranking may have dropped. Most importantly, the change will make it harder for potential customers to find you.

Is your website mobile friendly?

Making sure you have a mobile friendly website is a great opportunity to put your business ahead of the competition. You can check if your website is classed as mobile friendly by entering a web address into the Google mobile-friendly analyzer.

There are also handy online tools to help you start thinking about your Google shopfront, including My Business Be found, customize your website software and guidelines for representing your business on Google.

It’s never too late to change!

The good news is that when you switch to a mobile-friendly website Google will pick it up immediately, so you should start seeing the difference straight away.

What would you like to find out in our next Google post? Please add your suggestion to the comments section below.

Want to find out more about how using Google can help your business?

You’re helping even more small businesses | Weekly Lending Review

Week 27: 29 June – 3 July 2015

It was an exciting week at Funding Circle as we introduced a sixth risk band, to help even more small businesses access finance, whilst offering you more lending opportunities on the marketplace. More than £10 million made its way to businesses across the UK in just one week alone, thanks to your lending.

New loans available to you

There are currently 75 loan requests on the marketplace which are all available for you to lend to.

As part of lending to businesses, some may be unable to fully repay their loans, which is why diversification is so important. We’ve created a short video which runs through the basics of diversification and how you can diversify at Funding Circle.

The total value of new loans listed on the Funding Circle marketplace was £8,709,500, averaging at £66,484 per loan. The largest loan value was £588,000 and the smallest loan value was £5,000.

Business loans still available for bidding on for the next 3 days or more:

Weekly marketplace trends

These graphs show the most recent activity on the marketplace. The average gross yield graph is reported weekly and shows a rolling two week average of gross yields. This calculation assumes you reinvest your interest each month and therefore includes the compound interest you earn. Number of loans, value of loans and amount lent are reported weekly. The dates on the graph should be read as ‘week beginning’, for example: 29-June represents the week of 29th June – 3rd July 2015.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)

Yield 2 27

Number of listed loans per week

Loans listed 27

Listed loan value per week

Loan value 27

Total amount lent

Amount lent 27

Loan parts available to buy from other investors

Loan parts 27

News you should know

Following the introduction of the E band, C- has been renamed to D

C- has been renamed to D to make our risk grading easier to understand. The new risk band structure is: A+, A, B, C, D, E,  where A+ is lowest risk.

Providing more information around defaulted loans

If you have any defaulted loans you may have noticed we apply a RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating system, also known as a traffic light system, in the loan comments on your dashboard. This is to help you assess the quality of your defaulted loans, and your expected return over a certain period of time.

Loans defaulted last week

Industrial fastening stockist. Loan 3824. Risk band A

This Cambridgeshire business was incorporated in 2001 and is entering insolvent liquidation.

Building design. Loan 1839. Risk band B

This London business has been running since 1997 and has entered administration.

Vehicle recovery and repairs. Loan 3564. Risk band D

This Durham business was established in 2012 and has ceased trading.

Sports optics supplier. Loan 3788. Risk band D

This Surrey business was incorporated in 2010 and has ceased trading.

Agricultural contractor. Loan 6127. Risk band D

This County Fermanagh business has been running since 2014 and is 3 months in arrears.

Tarpaulin manufacturer. Loan 5387. Risk band A

This Suffolk business was incorporated in 2007 and has entered insolvent liquidation.

Digital agency. Loan 1372. Risk band C

This London business was established in 1996 and is 3 months in arrears.

All affected investors have been notified.

Our collections and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts for all of these loans. Read how our collections and recoveries process works on our blog.

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

 

Virgin Trains extends their travel discount for the Funding Circle community

Earlier this year we announced our exciting partnership with Virgin Trains as part of our ongoing commitment to helping small businesses stay ahead.

The partnership brought all Funding Circle customers, including investors and borrowers, 20% off train travel on the Virgin Trains West Coast Mainline.

virgin trains

We’re pleased to tell you all that Virgin Trains have extended the offer period until the end of the year, so you can book advance train tickets with a 20% discount until 29th December 2015.

Offer details: 20% off!

All Funding Circle customers can access a 20% discount on travel anywhere on the Virgin Trains West Coast Mainline until 29th December 2015. To book your advance tickets:

1. Go to http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/funding-circle/

2. Enter ‘Funding Circle’ as the company name

3. The password is ‘FCinvestor’ if you lend to businesses through Funding Circle, or ‘FCborrower’ if you are a small business customer

4. Terms & conditions apply

Tickets can be booked from 3 July – 29 December 2015, for travel between 4 July and 30 December 2015, whether it be for work or leisure.

For more information, please visit our partner page.

The Funding Circle team

Business lending through marketplaces surges. June’s industry news

Newspapers - Copy

P2P business lending to eclipse consumer sector

Last month, business lending through marketplaces overtook lending to consumers in the UK for the first time. Marketplace lending to consumers began in 2005, whilst business lending began in 2010. However, the small business lending market is worth approximately £7 billion per month, and the options available to small businesses has historically been narrower than for consumers, so it was only a matter of time before business marketplace lending overtook consumer.

The lenders of the revolution look familiar

Big news in June as Goldman Sachs announced their intention to launch a marketplace lending platform at some point in the future. They plan to offer loans to both consumers and small businesses. A sign that the industry is maturing as larger institutions become more involved, particularly those who are historically used to dealing only with other institutions rather than consumers. In this Financial Times article, Morgan Stanley estimates that marketplace lending could become a $290 billion market within the next five years.

2015 Digital Masters Awards

The Digital Masters Awards recognise Europe’s top leadership talent across the digital space. Our very own UK COO, Pam Burton, won the ‘Google Award for Women in Digital’. Pam has helped make Funding Circle one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Europe and the marketplace is currently the 5th largest net lender to small businesses in the UK.

Peer-to-peer lending must mature to thrive

Back in May, Metro Bank and Zopa announced a new partnership where Metro Bank will lend to British people alongside existing investors through the Zopa platform. This type of relationship aids further expansion of marketplace lending and is a great example of how technology companies can work alongside traditional banks in the best interests of customers.

From couriers to car clubs: How the power of sharing could help you save money, cut costs and share the love

In this final piece, Laura Shannon describes the rise of ‘people power’; the rapidly expanding personal marketplace where people deal directly with other people to invest, save or anything from house sharing to car rentals. The sector is expected to be worth £230 billion a year within a decade. Within this falls marketplace lending, and the attractive rates you can earn if you diversify your individual investments across hundreds of loans. To learn more about what diversification could mean to you, check out our blog. And remember, when you lend, your capital is always at risk.

3 top business tips from Jason, director of Spartan Motor Factors

In June we caught up with Jason Farrugia, director of Spartan Motor Factors, who shared his top tips for running a small business.

Investor monthly banner - spartan 3

Spartan Motor Factors are the fastest growing vehicle parts supplier in South Wales, with branches in Newport, Cardiff and Bridgend. They stock a wide range of batteries, clutches, springs, braking and services parts, lighting and much more.

Established in 2012, Spartan Motor Factors has impressively been voted CAT Awards Small Factor of the Year for the past three consecutive years. The directors feel it’s essential that all customers are provided with truthful and accurate information regarding the price, availability and delivery time for vehicle parts, and they take great pride in having advisors with over ten years experience in the industry.

Back in May 2014, Spartan Motor Factors borrowed £75,000 from 1,251 investors to open a new branch. In this short video you’ll meet Jason and find out why he believes constantly analysing your stock profile is so important.

These are his top tips:

  • Know your stock and customer needs
  • Keep on top of cashflow
  • Build great relationships with your suppliers

If, like Jason, you’re looking for business loan, You can check your eligibility online in just 30 seconds.

Apply online and a member of our team will get back to you within 2 working days.

We’ve helped more than 8,000 businesses in the UK and US access finance for a range of finance needs.