April Round-Up

In this month’s round-up you can find industry news, business success stories, your top 5 questions answered and finally changes and opportunities for the new tax year from Simon Read. Read on below to find out more.

Trustpilot quote of the month

“We really like what Funding Circle are doing. From our initial enquiry, funds had cleared into our bank within 7 working days. We can now focus on growing our business. Thank you Funding Circle – for doing the work the banks should be doing!”

Bobbin Bicycles shows how to keep the export wheels turning

It’s great to see one of the businesses in our community featured in The Sunday Times, highlighting how selling overseas can help small businesses thrive.

Founded in 2007, Bobbin Bicycles supply a range of trendy leisure bicycles for everyday cyclists across the world. In 2016, they borrowed £250,000 through Funding Circle to buy stock for their new online sales channel. They’ve recently come back for second loan of £150,000 for working capital. Thanks to your support, we can continue to help small businesses, like Bobbin Bicycles, and push the economy forward.

Top 5 investor questions – answered

Our investor support team are on hand to help with any queries you have about your account, how lending works or Funding Circle in general. We spoke to the team to find out the most common questions you were asking. Here are your top 5 questions answered.

March industry news

In this issue, we discuss how technology has sparked a cultural shift within financial services, and how businesses are turning away from banks for financial support. Read more on this in our industry news.

A new tax year means new opportunities – Simon Read

To help you get the most from your finances, we regularly bring you a column from Simon Read, a personal finance expert. In this issue, Simon discusses how the new tax year can bring new opportunities.

March’s Lending Impact and Borrower Stories

In case you missed it, here’s last month’s post. In March’s lending impact we met Michaela, the founder of Arapina Bakery, in our latest case study video.

By lending to businesses, your capital is at risk.

As always, if you have any questions or comments our dedicated team are here to help. And if you have any suggestions we’d love to hear them.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

Read between the lines – A new tax year means new opportunities

We regularly bring you a column from Simon Read, a personal finance expert with extensive experience in helping people make the most of their money.

We’re into a new tax year and you could understandably be forgiven for thinking, ‘so what?’ But there are two things you need to be aware of.

First is the fact that if you don’t want to fall foul of any new tax laws, you need to be aware of them. Don’t worry, I’ll run through them in a bit.

But second is the opportunity you have right now to get ahead of the game. By that I mean rather than waiting until the end of the financial year to sort out your tax affairs, if you do so now you’ll end up better off – and I’ll explain how.

New tax rates

First, what are the changes in the tax law that have come into effect for the 2018-19 year? Frankly, there’s not a lot, just some tinkering with the tax rates. So the personal allowance – the amount you can earn without paying any tax – has climbed to £11,850.

The basic rate band – the amount you earn on top of your personal allowance and pay 20% tax on – has increased to £34,500. The crucial bit is that means you’ll only start paying the higher 40% tax rate on income you earn this year above £46,350.

Meanwhile, the capital gains tax annual exemption is £11,700 this year and it’s well worth making the most of it if you have assets you’re planning to sell and make a profit on. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you’re married, your spouse has a similar capital gains tax exemption which may be worth using.

In essence, selling some assets this year could help avoid a tax bill later which could hit if you sell a lot of items at a profit.

Plan early to make the most of tax breaks

That brings us right back to how you can be better off by sorting out your tax affairs now.

To begin with, if you start an ISA now rather than waiting until the deadline at the end of the tax year, you’ll benefit from a whole year’s extra growth on your nest egg. You can stick £20,000 into an ISA now, which would mean an extra £1,000 by the end of the financial year if you managed to get growth of 5% over the course of the next 12 months.

For example, the Funding Circle ISA is now open to all investors, which offers a projected annual return of 7.2% tax-free*. If you were to use your allowance now you could be in great shape by the end of the year.

Thinking longer term, you may want to stick some more money into your pension. It’s not just about building up a decent pot that you’re likely to need in your later years, but also taking advantage of one of the best savings tax-breaks around.

The fact is that contributions to a pension attract tax relief at your highest marginal rate. So if you’re a higher rate taxpayer, you’ll attract tax relief of 40% on any money you stash in your pension. To put it another way, that means that for every 60p you put into your retirement savings, the government effectively tops it up to £1, once the tax relief is taken into account.

If you’re in a decent company scheme, your employer may even match your contributions which would turn your 60p contribution into a £2 addition to your pension pot.

You can put up to £40,000 into a pension every tax year. However, if you haven’t used that allowance in previous years you can use it now to make extra contributions to your retirement nest egg. The so-called carry forward rules mean you can use up pension allowances from up to three years ago. That means in the current tax year you can use up allowances dating back to 2015/16 – but you must do so before 5 April 2019.

If that all seems too much to think about, think about this: there are deadlines to making the most of these tax allowances. If you miss the deadlines, you lose them. But acting now means giving yourself plenty of time to examine your options. And that means giving yourself plenty of time to cash in rather than losing out.

Key things to remember:

New rates

  • Personal tax allowance is now £11,850
  • Higher 40% rate tax threshold is now £46,350

Plan early to make the most of tax breaks

  • Using your ISA allowance early will help you earn more
  • Take advantage of 40% tax relief on pension contributions
  • Carry forward pensions allowance from previous years

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not represent those of Funding Circle. Funding Circle is not authorised to, and does not, provide investment, tax, legal or regulatory advice.

The information and views contained here are provided solely for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal, tax, regulatory, accounting or investment advice, or as a recommendation or an offer or invitation by Funding Circle.

To the extent permitted by law, Funding Circle does not accept any liability for any loss or damage which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of, or reliance on, such information contained here.

If you have any questions, please speak to your professional adviser or seek independent specialist advice.

*The tax-free entitlement of an ISA depends on the individual circumstances of each investor, and may be subject to change in the future. The projected return is an estimate of what investors could earn on the Balanced lending option, after fees and bad debts. It uses the loans we expect to be funded on the platform, and the estimated bad debt rate of those loans based on our all-time loan data. See the full calculation here. Your actual return maybe higher or lower, and by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Culture shifts and funding boosts – March industry news

How Funding Circle is keeping the little guys in the loop – City AM

Up until now, finance companies have typically been viewed as dull and corporate, but we’re pleased to see that this perspective is changing. Technology has sparked a culture shift within financial services, bringing enthusiasm, passion and fun back into the workplace. As our co-founder James Meekings says, “When we think about the people we hire, it’s all about energy.” Fostering an empowering culture and staying true to a set of values is key to a successful business, and is something we are firm believers in at Funding Circle.

China could snatch the crown of FinTech capital, Britain is warned – The Times

Talking about the FinTech sector more broadly, the chancellor Philip Hammond recently told an industry conference that the UK was the “global capital of FinTech” and that the emerging industry contributes £7 billion to the economy. Mr Ramsden of the Bank of England added “The UK can’t afford to be complacent even with London’s pre-eminent position, commercial advantage must be constantly worked for and renewed.” As well as boosting the economy, FinTech companies are creating new opportunities for investors, consumers and businesses. Whether you want to transfer money overseas, get a faster loan or a better return on your investment, these platforms are making such services quicker and easier to use.

FT City Network transcript: the outlook for ‘Global Britain’ – Financial Times

As well as changes in technology, trade partnerships play a crucial role in creating opportunities for businesses. Looking ahead to a post-Brexit world, there will be a lot of excitement about new global partnerships we can build in distant lands. In the long-term these could be very beneficial, but for small businesses who depend on exporting, their greatest opportunities in the short term will continue to lie with our European neighbours. Small businesses do not typically have the time or resources to form long-distance trading partnerships. Consequently, access to fast, fair and affordable finance will be critical to taking advantage of the opportunities exporting can bring.

Small firms say no to bank loans – The Times

Another shift we’re seeing across the UK is the number of businesses that are turning away from banks for financial support. Research suggests that only one in three businesses indicated a willingness to borrow finance in 2017, down from almost half in 2015. However, it’s hugely positive to see the increased amount of innovation and choice being brought to the market thanks to the emergence of online lending. These platforms are helping small businesses  seize growth opportunities, hire more staff and go even further.

Innovations to utilise your tax allowance – City AM

Finally, we’re really excited to announce that the Funding Circle ISA is now available to all investors. This will allow investors to make the same attractive returns tax-free, helping them better provide for their future while helping businesses get the funds to thrive. As with the Classic account, there are two investment options to choose from: ‘Balanced’, for a projected return of 7.2 per cent; and the lower-risk ‘Conservative’, for a projected return of 4.8 per cent. For more information on the Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) check out this article in The Times or visit our ISA page.

News

Your top questions – answered

Our investor support team are on hand to help with any queries you have about your account, how lending works or Funding Circle in general. We spoke to the team to find out what were the most common questions you were asking. Read on below to find the answers to your top 5 questions.

1. Can I move money from a Classic to an ISA account?

Unfortunately you can’t transfer either loan parts or available funds from your Classic account to your ISA.

ISA regulations state that investors can only make cash subscriptions into an Innovative Finance ISA. Instead, you must first sell your loan parts to other investors, then withdraw the funds raised into your nominated UK bank account. You can then transfer the funds into your ISA account.

Likewise if you have available funds in your Classic account, you are unable to transfer directly to your ISA. Again, you will have to withdraw and transfer in from your bank account.

The same is true if you want to move funds from your ISA to your Classic account.

2. Why can’t I sell all my loan parts?

Although the majority of loan parts will typically be sold within 24 hours, to ensure all investors are protected and treated fairly, we have specific rules and restrictions on which loans can be sold. Investors can’t sell loan parts that:

– Have had their risk band removed (for example when a CCJ has been registered against the business)
– Are late (currently behind on repayments) or are in default
– Have only one payment remaining

The first two restrictions are often temporary. If a business gets back on track with their repayments and there are no remaining issues, we can reinstate the risk band and the loan part can be sold.

As a result, investors can only sell loans that are in good health, which helps to protect the investors who buy them.

3. Why is my money not being lent out?

Our automatic lending tool is designed to help more than 70,000 investors lend their funds to businesses quickly and fairly. We have a dedicated team who monitor the balance between the supply of investor funds and demand from businesses. Liquidity has been excellent in recent months with approximately 97-99% of the total amount of investors’ funds lent out to businesses at any time.

It’s important that the remaining available funds are allocated fairly, so all investors have the chance to lend their funds to businesses. To help achieve this, the lending tool is more likely to match investors who have a large proportion of their funds available.

It’s worth noting that the lending tool will typically start matching your available funds once they reach 0.5% of your portfolio, and you will usually have a small proportion of funds not lent at anytime. Lending will be slower at weekends as new loans are only listed within working hours, but you may still purchase loan parts that are being sold by other investors.

In addition, if you are lending through our Conservative lending option, it can take longer to lend all of your funds out to businesses as you are only lending to our A+ and A risk bands, rather than across all businesses.

4. Why do I get negative interest at the beginning of lending?

This is a common occurrence when investors first start lending and is not a cause for concern.

When lending through Funding Circle, you will typically lend the majority of your funds to businesses who are taking out a new loan. However, you will also use some of your funds to purchase loan parts that are being sold by other investors.

As loan parts are often sold mid-way between repayments, it’s important that both the seller and buyer of a loan part receive the interest owed for each day they hold it for.

As a result, when you buy a loan part, you’ll pay the seller the amount of interest owed to them since the business last made a repayment. This interest will be taken from your available funds, and may show as a negative amount on your account total if you are just starting to lend. When the business makes their next repayment, you’ll receive a full month’s worth of interest.

5. Can I split my funds between Conservative and Balanced?

Only one lending option can be applied to your account at a time, so funds cannot be lent out using both Conservative and Balanced options simultaneously.

However, you could lend out half your funds using one option, then switch to the other and lend out the rest. This would split your funds across the two options, although any repayments would then be lent according to your current lending option.

If you’d like to change your lending option, you can do so at any time via the “Lending settings” tab.

More information can be found in our investor guide. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Your April Review – Insight and Analysis

In March, you and other investors lent over £123 million to UK businesses, allowing them to achieve their business goals. Dive in below for your monthly analysis.

Last month, you helped over 1,800 UK businesses grow and take new opportunities — thank you for your continued support! Together we can continue to drive energy into the UK economy.

How Funding Circle is keeping the little guys in the loop City A.M.

“When I step into the lively hive that is Funding Circle’s office, it’s a breath of fresh air” says Katherine Denham, writer at City A.M. This article highlights our culture, our team and how our investors are supporting thousands of small businesses across the county.

These graphs show the most recent activity on our platform.

You’ve helped more than 10,500 small businesses access finance in the last 6 months…

 

Totalling over £701 million lent

March 2018 sector breakdown

Amount lent to each sector

March 2018 regional breakdown

Amount lent to each UK region

As part of lending to businesses, a small percentage will not be able to fully repay their loan. This is known as bad debt and is a normal part of business lending. We believe diversification, where you lend no more than 1% of your total to each business, is the best way to reduce the impact this has on your return. Our automatic lending tool will help you diversify by splitting your investment across lots of businesses. We suggest lending £2,000 or more, so you can lend to at least 100 businesses, with no more than 1% going to each one.  

Each week, we publish a list of the loans being defaulted on the Customer support section of our website under ‘Announcements.’ To see a breakdown of the loans defaulted last week simply click on loans defaulted 29th March 2018  For further information on why Funding Circle defaults loans you can read our FAQ here.

You can also read more about how our collections and recoveries process works (part one and part two) on our blog.

Up next in April we’ll be looking at the impact your lending is having on the UK economy and bringing to life some of the businesses you’ve helped access finance.

As always, if you have any questions or comments our dedicated team are here to help. And if you have any suggestions we’d love to hear them.

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

*Data from CEBR report

This blog is a general summary, and should not replace financial advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Funding Circle is not authorised to, and does not, provide investment, tax, legal or regulatory advice. If you have any questions, please speak to your professional advisor or seek independent specialist advice.