Borrowing £100,000 has helped me completely refurbish my new premises

Over the past 4 years we’ve enjoyed visiting small businesses across the country who have come to the Funding Circle marketplace, not only to find out how your lending has helped them, but also to hear their unique stories which we share with you.

For our latest business story we’re in Central London to visit Rufus Grantham, co-founder of BloodandSand Limited, who borrowed £104,000 in October 2014 from hundreds of Funding Circle investors. BloodandSand Limited runs 2 cocktail bars in London; ‘The Hide’ on fashionable Bermondsey Street, and their second establishment which has just opened near Bank underground station.

B60A2479

Rufus co-founded BloodandSand Limited more than 8 years ago with a university friend who shared his passion for delivering delicious drinks in an unrivalled atmosphere. Having successfully run “The Hide” for many years, they looked to open new location.

After searching for more than a year for their second site, they found a derelict pub in the City of London and both agreed that it was the perfect location, so applied for a loan to refurbish the premises. They have split the premises into 2 distinct venues, a cocktail bar in the basement called ‘Demon, Wise & Partners’ and a London themed bar called ‘The Arbitrager’ on the ground floor, where they’ll only stock London-brewed beers and London distilled gin to show support for their local economy. 

In this short video you’ll meet Rufus, hear more about why he started the business and what he liked most about using Funding Circle to help his business grow.

Do you live in London?

If you’re London-based and read the Evening Standard, you may have seen Demon, Wise & Partners mentioned as one of the most anticipated bar openings for 2015! Why not show your support and pop down and have a drink? They open in mid-March, so not long to wait now!

Are you interested in lending to businesses like Rufus’?

You can support small businesses like BloodandSand Ltd by lending to them, and you can earn a great return by doing so. Simply sign up online and use our investor information guide to get you 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.

Does your business need finance?

We’ve helped more than 7,300 business in both the UK and US access finance for a whole range of capital needs. You can apply online in less than 10 minutes.

Cheers all round for peer-to-peer funding revolution. February industry news

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Democratising finance: Botín charts Santander’s digital course

Following the ‘democratising finance’ series from last month, the Financial Times takes a deeper look into how technology is impacting the way we finance small businesses. This piece touches on our partnership with Santander, and how technology companies are working alongside banks to help them contribute to the growth of small companies.  Another disruptive and exciting step towards helping more small businesses access finance.

Hargreaves to enter P2P lending market

Hargreaves Lansdown, the UK’s leading fund supermarket, announced that it is to set up its own peer-to-peer lending platform. They will be looking to compete with the UK’s largest operators and get a taste for the rapid growth in the industry. Peer-to-peer lending is expected to grow even more once it becomes included within ISAs.The Peer-to-Peer Finance Association is currently recommending that the government introduce a third Lending ISA.  James Meekings, co-founder, was quoted in the Financial Times following last week’s Alt Fi conference: “The Isa is going to change the industry.”

Too young for Pensioner Bonds? 5 other shortcuts to a better deal on your savings

Julia Rampen gives some great tips on how to make the most of our savings, with a round up of ISAs and peer-to-peer lending investments. As already mentioned, lending through Funding Circle will become included within the tax-efficient ISA. Exact timings are yet to be confirmed but we expect the government to respond to the consultation within the next month. It’s a big step forward for the industry and a great way for you to feel better about lending! Check out a few more tips about how to how to profit from peer-to-peer lending in this article in DepositAccounts. If you have any questions or would like to start a conversation, please check out our forum here.

The wisdom of the crowd or herd mentality? Crowdfunding looks tempting but it pays to tread carefully

As the alternative finance industry grows and many different companies and models are springing up, the Daily Mail took a look at the options available to investors. This article encourages first timers to try members of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association, who have a demonstrable track record and have worked hard to build trust amongst consumers. Although peer-to-peer lending lies at the safer end of the spectrum and is regulated by the FCA, investors must remember that returns can go down as well as up, because your capital is at risk. At Funding Circle we believe that full transparency builds trust, and as a registered investor you can download our entire loanbook here.

Cheers all round for peer-to-peer funding revolution

Following our recent announcement that RBS will now refer small business customers they are not able to help to Funding Circle, Anthony Hilton discusses how the industry is growing and working with the wider financial ecosystem. He calls peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding  ‘the phenomenon of our time’ and ‘a revolution indeed’ as the industry continues to boom. Nesta quotes that funds raised via these lending platforms have risen from £267 million in 2012 to an astounding £1.42 billion last year.

U.S. Victory Park Capital invests with peer-to-peer lender

This month we are pleased to announce that we have partnered with Victory Park Capital who will lend $420 million to both US and UK small companies over the next three years via the Funding Circle marketplace. By welcoming larger investors to Funding Circle, we are able to help thousands more businesses to access finance. Victory Park will be lending to businesses via whole loans – you can read more about this here. Sachin Patel, our head of UK Capital Markets, discussed the news on CNBC and you can also read more by Peter Renton on LendAcademy.

European market for online alternative finance surges

And finally, the Financial Times reminds us of the UK’s domination over the European alternative finance market following a benchmarking report by Nesta. Andrew Hagger’s article in the Independent looks at how peer-to-peer lending is becoming more mainstream as we shape the way that finance is provided, creating an easier and quicker approach to lending and borrowing.

Building more homes by offering new lending opportunities. Weekly Lending Review

Week 9: 23 February – 1 March 2015

February was a fantastic month for lending as £38.5 million made its way to small businesses across the UK.

New loans available to you

There are currently 56 loan requests on the marketplace which are all available for you to lend to.

The total value of new Funding Circle loans was £10,651,780, averaging at £64,000 per loan. The largest loan value was £350,000 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: 23-Feb represents the week of 23rd February – 1st March 2015.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)

yield

Number of listed loans per week

number

Listed loan value per week

value

Total amount lent

lent

Loan parts available to buy from other investors

secondary

Offering the full suite of property loans

Over the last 12 months we have received a significant number of enquiries from businesses interested in taking shorter-term loans for property finance. In order to meet this demand, we are broadening the types of loans you’ll be able to lend to over the coming months.

Loans defaulted last week

Printing company. Loan 2398. Risk band C

This Caerdydd business was established in 1987 and is in liquidation. All affected investors have been notified.

Law firm. Loan 4015. Risk band A

This Merseyside business has been incorporated since 2008 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Contractor. Loan 1761. Risk band C

This Suffolk business was established in 2007 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Insurance broker. Loan 1221. Risk band B

This Northampton business was established in 2008 and is behind with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Online retailer. Loan 5494. Risk band A

This Essex business was established in 2010 and is in liquidation. All affected investors have been notified.

Our collections and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts for all of these loans.

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

We’ve partnered with Virgin Trains to bring you 20% off train travel!

Virgin Trains white

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, but their scale sometimes means they come up against disproportionate costs. We are therefore really excited to have partnered with Virgin Trains to bring our small business customers 20% off travel anywhere on the Virgin Train network. It’s fantastic to partner with another company who also passionately believe in helping business owners get ahead.

The good news is that investors can also take advantage of this offer! To book your advance tickets, all you need to do is enter ‘Funding Circle’ in the company name field and ‘FCinvestor’ or ‘FCborrower’ in the password field, here.

Tickets can be booked from  27 February – 29 June 2015, for travel between 27 February – 30 June 2015, whether it be for work or leisure.

For more information, please visit our partner page.

Helping businesses buy assets. Weekly Lending Review

Week 8: 16 – 22 February 2015

Of the new loans that were listed on the marketplace last week, London and the South East were the most popular business locations and expansion was the most common reason for needing funding.

New loans available to you

There are currently 79 loan requests on the marketplace which are all available for you to lend to.

The total value of new Funding Circle loans was £11,654,900, averaging at £62,661 per loan. The largest loan value was £225,000 and the smallest loan value was £6,000.

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 the amount lent are reported weekly. The dates on the graph should be read as ‘week beginning’, for example: 16-Feb represents the week of 16th – 22nd February 2015.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)

yield

Number of listed loans per week

number

Listed loan value per week

value

Total amount lent

lent

Loan parts available to buy from other investors

2nd

Lending to more businesses looking to buy an asset

We’re pleased to announce that we are trialling a new process for asset finance loans. We’ve helped businesses access finance secured on a specific asset (such as a piece of machinery) since 2012 and we have recently reviewed how we can improve this experience, which we explain more in our blog.

Loans defaulted last week

Design agency. Loan 3446. Risk band C

This London business was established in 2009 and is in liquidation. All affected investors have been notified.

Solicitors. Loan 5102. Risk band C

This Manchester business has been incorporated since 2012 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Plumbing provider. Loans 2900 & 6278. Risk band C

This Telford business was established in 2001 and is entering liquidation. All affected investors have been notified.

Our collections and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts for all of these loans.

 

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

Lending to more businesses looking to buy an asset

Today, we’re pleased to announce that we are trialling a new process for asset finance loans. We have helped businesses access finance secured on a specific asset (such as a piece of machinery, equipment or commercial vehicle) since 2012, and over the last few months we have been reviewing how we can improve this experience for business owners and provide more lending opportunities for investors.

Asset finance is a competitive market which is defined by simplicity, speed and competitive rates. Businesses looking to buy an asset need more certainty over when the supplier will be paid and the interest rate that they will pay. To provide business owners with certainty of cost, asset finance loans will now be fixed rate. This will allow us to release funds for the transaction as soon as the auction ends.

As before, Funding Circle Asset Finance Limited will still hold title to the asset and in the event a business is unable to repay, we will take steps to recover the asset and sell it on behalf of investors.

A valuation of the asset will be completed by a third party specialist asset valuer, who have significant experience in valuing, recovering and selling equipment of all types. This will be provided on the financial summary page as a pdf. The recovery value of the asset is indicative and will depend on its usage and the way it’s maintained.

Whilst we will place more focus on the asset for these kinds of transactions, we will continue to carry out the same high level of due diligence when reviewing the ability of the business to afford and repay the loan. If a borrower is able to provide up to date management account information, we won’t always require bank statements for these types of deals.

We will be testing these basic processes from today, and may make further improvements as we move forward. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, then we would love to hear from you so please get in touch or join the conversation on the forum.

The Funding Circle team

Improving returns at Funding Circle. Weekly Lending Review

Week 7: 9 – 15 February 2015

You and more than 37,000 people helped lend nearly £10 million to businesses across the UK last week.

Of the new loans that were listed on the marketplace, expansion was the most popular reason for needing funding and manufacturing was the most common sector.

New loans available to you

There are currently 62 loan requests on the marketplace which are all available for you to lend to.

The total value of new Funding Circle loans was £10,209,620, averaging at £63,414 per loan. The largest loan value was £600,000 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: 9-Feb represents the week of 9th – 15th February 2015.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)

yield

Number of new loans per week

number

New loan value per week

value

Amount lent to businesses per week

lent

What are whole loans?

Last year we announced the introduction of whole loans to the marketplace. Whole loans are loans which are purchased in full by institutional investors lending to businesses. This means individual loan parts cannot be purchased or sold, as is the case with the ‘partial loans’ that you see and lend to on the marketplace. The graph above shows the split of the total amount lent to businesses by whole and partial loans, and we’ll continue to show this breakdown on a weekly basis.

Loan parts available to buy from other investors

2ndry

Improving investor returns at Funding Circle

Since the Funding Circle marketplace first launched, estimated annual returns have increased from 5.7% in 2011 to 7.1% in 2014. In this edition of our data series, we examine how interest rates have changed over time, what has caused these changes and why investors are now earning more.

News you should know

Last week we were delighted to win a CICM award at the British Credit Awards held in London. We’re proud to be named as the Commercial Collections Team of the Year 2015.

Loans defaulted last week

Education provider. Loan 7712. Risk band B

This London business was established in 2001 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Training provider. Loan 4528. Risk band C

This Northamptonshire business has been trading since 2007 and is insolvent. All affected investors have been notified.

Drainage solutions provider. Loan 1464. Risk band C

This Northamptonshire business has ceased trading. All affected investors have been notified.

Demolition company. Loan 2559 Risk band B

This North Lanarkshire business has been trading since 1958 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Our collections and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts for all of these loans.

 

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

 

Meet Richard Hounsell, a Funding Circle introducer from South West Commercial Finance

SW commercial finance

Richard Hounsell is a director at South West Commercial Finance and has been involved in commercial finance for his whole working life. He was first introduced to Funding Circle through the NACFB. Since then he has used it many times for clients looking to access fast, flexible finance.

In this short video, Richard discusses why he continues to bring clients to Funding Circle, and why he felt it was a good fit for this particular business, a Neal’s Yard Remedies franchise in Bath.

Richard could see straight away that it was a strong business as it had been trading for 10 years, was profitable and had good cash flow. The only issue was that the original premises had become too small. Jon Huxley, co-owner of the retailer, says that Richard gave him the confidence to try borrowing through Funding Circle, so that they could relocate to a bigger shop.

“Peer-to-peer lending has been a breath of fresh air. It has given businesses an opportunity to borrow money where they otherwise couldn’t have done, allowing them to go on to flourish.” said Richard. He goes onto say: “What I like about Funding Circle is the positive attitude from everyone in the organisation . They want to lend money, and help you find a solution.”

If you’d like to have a chat with our dedicated business development team about how we might be able to help your clients, then please give us a call on 020 3667 2208 or email us.

Watch the video here:

Digging into the data: improving returns

Since the Funding Circle marketplace first launched, estimated annual returns have increased from 5.7% in 2011 to 7.1% in 2014. In this edition of the Digging Into The Data series we examine how interest rates have changed over time, what has caused these changes and why investors are now earning more.

Gross interest rates (bid rates) have been increasing over time

You can see in the graph below that since Funding Circle launched in August 2010, the average successful gross interest rate has increased 25% from 8.3% to 10.4%. Let’s look at the main reasons for this increase in more detail.

Gross-interest-rates-versus-estimated-returns

1) Introducing new risk bands has enabled investors to earn higher returns

The Funding Circle marketplace launched with 3 risk bands (A+, A and B) for investors to lend across. As we have grown and understood more about credit assessment we have introduced new risk bands (C and C-) to provide even more lending opportunities to help investors spread their lending across as many businesses as possible.

These newer risk bands have an attractive risk-return profile. Since being introduced in June 2012, more than £103 million has been lent to C businesses with an average gross interest rates of 11% and an expected net return of 6.4%. £32 million has been lent to C- businesses  since June 2013 at an average gross interest rates of 13.3% and an expected net return of 6.8%.

2) The introduction of Minimum Bid Rates has gradually increased gross interest rates

In 2013 we introduced Minimum Bid Rates across all risk bands. Prior to this change, the minimum gross interest rate you could bid on any loan was 4% across all risk bands. From the start of 2013 we saw a sharp fall in gross interest rates. As a result, in mid-2013 we introduced minimum bid rates to increase the overall net returns for investors. Since this introduction average interest rates have increased 24% from 8.4% to 10.4% by the second half of 2014.

Minimum  bid rates

3) We’re improving our ability to manage the supply and demand of the marketplace

Whilst the introduction of new risk bands and minimum bid rates has helped to increase the overall gross interest rates for investors, these rates fall if there is an imbalance in the marketplace. This means there are too few borrowers for investors to lend to and causes gross interest rates to fall, creating inefficiencies in the marketplace. This is one of the biggest challenges at Funding Circle.

In order to better balance supply with demand we have introduced a number of new initiatives over the last few years. These include TV advertising and partnerships with banks and accountants to increase demand from businesses. We’ve also broadened the types of investors who use Funding Circle to ensure we meet this increase in demand.

spread of investors

Improving credit policies leads to a decline in losses

Alongside increases in gross interest rates over time, improvements in our credit assessment and loan servicing policies have led to increases in the actual returns investors receive.

We publish information about the bad debt performance versus expectations on our statistics page and update this information monthly. These results show that since 2010 our credit assessment policies have consistently improved. This is down to the work our credit analytics team is doing to create better risk models, by using more and more sources of data.

We are also getting better at analysing the propensity of a business to default after they have accepted a loan. Looking at the below graph we can see that in 2013, for every accepted business that defaulted, 4 that were rejected ended up in default, this is a 3X increase compared to 2011.

Bad debt performance over time

Finally, the loan servicing team have brought down the number of businesses that are late paying from 1.5% to 0.7% as a proportion of all live loans. When a business does default the loan servicing team work to reclaim as much of the loan as possible. Currently the recovery rate for defaulted loans is 19.4p, and this rate has steadily increased  from 14.6p since we started managing defaulted loans in-house. Long term, the expected recovery is anticipated to be ~40p – increasing to 44p for loans that defaulted in the first half of 2014, and 47p for defaulted loans in the second half of 2014.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this post about the improving investor returns on Funding Circle. With future changes such as ISA introduction and new tax relief for investors, we expect that lending to businesses through marketplaces will become even more attractive for investors over time; however it is important to note that interest rates can go down as well as up as your capital is at risk. We always recommend investors spread their lending across at least 100 businesses where possible to maximise their returns. You can read more about diversification on our statistics page.


The Funding Circle team

Save time. Work Smart. Have a cup of tea!

We met weliketowork.com recently and like us, they’re passionate about helping small businesses succeed.

weliketowork FINAL (1)

OK so you’re busy, you need things done and you can’t do it all yourself….

Like Funding Circle we want to help small businesses succeed – one of the most common problems we hear about is that people don’t have the space, time or money to hire someone full time – so what can you do?

Maybe you need help with social media management, administration, content writing, accounting, online marketing or other tasks?

Weliketowork.com is the UK’s freelance marketplace where businesses can outsource remote projects to UK workers including Mums, Seniors and Students. We look after the billing and contracts and you get help from smart, motivated people who are ready to work!

5 steps to a cuppa….

With weliketowork.com there are 5 easy steps to get help fast so that you can concentrate on your priorities, move forwards and relax with a nice cup of tea.

1. Describe what you need to be done using our simple post a project form.

2. Receive bids via email from our UK freelancers

3. Select your ideal match

4. Get your worker started

5. Review the work once it is done and pay when you’re satisfied

Sit back and put the kettle on!

Useful people available to help you:

Weliketowork.com is all about making useful people available at the right time to the companies that need them.

If that sounds simple then we’re glad as it makes perfect sense to us!

What customers say:

Yes we’re new but we’ve already attracted lots of talented freelancers and we’ve had some great results so far, Simon from Maker Club agrees:

“Through weliketowork.com we engaged the services of Jane as a freelance social media manager to help up gain publicity for our startup. We have continued to work with Jane on an ongoing basis as there is not enough work to warrant recruiting someone full time and she is doing such a great job that it made sense to continue. We will definitely be using weliketowork.com for other tasks as we grow – great service!”

Take a look now or give us a call at our Brighton office on: 01273 915125

By Jonny Dunning, from weliketowork.com

The democratisation of finance. January industry news

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How to boost the returns on your cash

There was plenty of discussion last month around how to make your money work harder in the post-Christmas period. You can read more on how peer-to-peer lending compares to other investments available in the Daily Mail, Guardian and the Independent. Since launching, investors at Funding Circle have earned over £25 million in net interest after fees and bad debt. But remember that investor returns can go down as well as up, as your capital is at risk.

RBS to refer rejected small firms to peer-to-peer lenders

Last month RBS announced plans to formally refer small businesses they cannot help to companies such as Funding Circle.  We’re very pleased to be working with both RBS and Santander, as both partnerships will help to raise awareness within the small business community of other finance options now available to them, providing you with ever more lending opportunities on the marketplace. It’s a great example of how technology companies can work alongside traditional banks in a complementary way and to the benefit of the customer.

Peer-to-peer lending: The new landscape

Following the RBS news, Sachin Patel, our Head of UK Capital Markets, went on CNBC to discuss what it means for the industry. You can also read more about our partnership in the Financial Times, the Guardian and City AM.

Technology improves access for the masses

In a special series about ‘democratising finance’, the Financial Times takes a look at how technology is improving access for both borrowers and investors. Samir Desai, our CEO, said: “In the past it wasn’t really possible for individuals to lend to businesses unless they had £100,000 or more available. Now they’re on an equal footing with big institutions. That is true democratisation.”

P2P lenders rebrand and evolve

A second piece in the series explores the shift from ‘peer-to-peer lending’ to ‘marketplace lending’, and why more and more borrowers and investors are turning to it. Many traditional banks are still nursing weak balance sheets, constraining lending, yet Funding Circle’s marketplace is now the fourth largest net lender to small businesses in the UK.

Lend-to-save investment trust P2P Global Investments launches new shares to tempt investors attracted by up to 8% yield

P2P Global Investments, an investor on the Funding Circle marketplace, raised £200 million last May and is now looking to expand with the issue of new shares. The investment trust uses money raised to invest in loans on platforms in the UK, US and Europe.

Entrepreneurs aren’t lone wolves: Labour will back them for the good of all

Following a Labour Party business event where co-founder James Meekings spoke, Chuka Umunna, Shadow Business Secretary, discusses the importance of access to finance for small businesses.

News

Connecting you with more businesses you’ve lent to. Weekly Lending Review

Week 6: 2 – 8 February 2015

It’s been a fantastic start to February as you helped lend more than £9.4 million to UK businesses last week.

Of the new loans that were listed on the marketplace, construction was the most common sector and expansion was the most popular reason for needing funding.

New loans available to you

There are currently 84 loan requests on the marketplace which are all available for you to lend to.

The total value of new Funding Circle loans was £12,093,060 averaging at £64,324 per loan. The largest loan value was £300,000 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 and value of loans are reported weekly. The dates on the graph should be read as ‘week beginning’, for example: 2-Feb represents the week of 2nd – 8th February 2015.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)

yield

Number of listed loans per week

number

Listed loan value per week

value

30% busier because of your lending

For our first business trip of 2015 we went to Bath to visit Elizabeth Season, co-owner of the Bath franchise of Neal’s Yard Remedies. Anne, who lent to the business alongside 900 other people, came along too. They borrowed £100,000 last year to refurbish their new shop.

News you should know

No update to minimum bid rates for March

Minimum bid rates will remain at their current levels for March:

A+: 6%

A: 8%

B: 9%

C: 10.2%

C-: 12.2%

We’re here to answer the questions you have

Join us on the forum this week to ask your tech and website related questions. We’ll have David T, our VP of Engineering answering them this week.

Loans defaulted last week

Healthcare provider. Loan 6251

This directors of this London business are entering bankruptcy and they are in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Agricultural supplier. Loan 3276

This Pembrokeshire business has been trading since 2000 and is in arrears. All affected investors have been notified.

IT consultancy. Loan 3409

This London business has been trading since 2009 and the borrower is proposing a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement). All affected investors have been notified.

Catering equipment supplier. Loan 2667

This Essex business has been trading since 2010 and is in administration. All affected investors have been notified.

Construction contractor. Loan 1849

This Hampshire business has been trading since 2008 and is in administration. All affected investors have been notified.

Transport company. Loan 1415

This Chipping Norton business has been trading since 2002 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Our collections and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts for all of these loans.

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

 

Marketing for small businesses: Measure, Review, Refine

It’s all very well having a well designed website offering excellent user experience and a targeted marketing strategy to match. But if you don’t have the right tools in place to measure performance, you won’t have any idea of what is and isn’t working.

Having this information to hand will provide you with a far better understanding of your customers, what drives them and what they’re looking for. You can then review what’s working and refine your tactics to target your ideal customers even more effectively.

But how do you go about it? Read on to find out.

First off, measure your marketing tactics

The first obvious question to ask is which of your marketing strategies should you be measuring? The answer: practically everything. The following list isn’t exhaustive, but will give you a good start:

Your website

– Use Google Analytics to discover what’s performing and what isn’t. You’ll find out how long your customers spend looking at different parts of your site, how often they’re clicking to download offers and, crucially, how often they convert. You can also use A/B testing on your web pages, on everything from the colour of a call-to-action button to the layout of a page.

Your social media activity

– Social reports – from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all of the key networks – provide you with a wealth of information. You’ll discover everything from conversions resulting from referrals, to the paths that customers from different social networks took when they visited your website, to what content on your site customers are sharing, and where.

Your mobile marketing

– An ever-growing number of people are using their smart phones for everything from reading your emails to browsing your website. So you need to have a clear understanding of how your mobile site is functioning. Discover which devices customers are using to access your website, for example, and you’ll be able to ensure that you can tailor your offering to create an optimum experience for them.

Your email marketing

– You can use measurement tools to discover how potential customers are interacting with your email. With a tool like Mail Chimp or Campaign Monitor, you’ll be able to find out who opened your email, and who followed your call to action. All of which enables you to be more targeted. A/B testing is also crucial when it comes to email marketing. You should try out different subject lines, copy and templates to find out what works best.

Your online advertising

– From sponsored posts on social media platforms to pay-per-click Google listings, it’s easy – with the tools you’re given by whichever platform you’re using – to measure the success of your online advertising.

Once you have the analytics, it’s time to review

So you have the tools in place, and you’ve measured everything you’ve been doing. What next? It’s time to review.

As an example, let’s say you’ve posted a blog about how to drive sales with the right marketing tactics. You’ve shared it on LinkedIn, and more contacts than ever before have liked and shared it.

What’s more, you can see that 25% of those contacts who liked your post have downloaded the e-guide (about using online channels to generate leads) suggested in the call-to-action at the conclusion of the blog.

So what can you learn? First up, you know that this type of content is of great interest to a certain segment of your contacts. Because the form links to your CRM, analytics will tell you whether there’s a common denominator they share. Perhaps they’re businesses of a certain type or sector, or all marketing managers, or all based in a similar area.

Whatever their background, you’ll know what they’re looking for and can send them targeted content, as you know they’re engaged with and are interested in what you’re offering.

You’re then able to refine to improve

But you also need to look at where you’ve fallen down. Despite its huge popularity on LinkedIn, 75% of those who shared the post took no further action. It’s obvious that the content was of interest. So why the hesitancy in taking that further step?

An obvious place to start is to look at your call-to-action button at the bottom of your post.

Did you know that the colour of that button can have a huge impact on your conversion rate? Contrasting colours – orange on a page where the focus is blue, for example – appeal to our lizard brain, the reactive part of us that wants to make a quick decision.

It sounds improbable, but tests have shown that the greater the contrast in colour, the more your button will stand out. Try it!

Of course, there are a huge number of variables that could be affecting the success of your post, and you need to look at other factors. How about A/B testing the layout of the page? Or attempting to share your content at lunch time or early evening, when people have more time to focus on it?

Having the right tools in place is also important at this stage of the process. Operating with an effective content management system (CMS), like WordPress, gives you the flexibility to easily refine the content on your site to respond to any conclusions you’re able to draw.

You could also consider an inbound platform – HubSpot is very effective – to facilitate your marketing practices and workflows, and to track how contacts engage with you.

Treat the process as an ongoing cycle to achieve success

So you’ve measured, refined and reviewed – great. Your strategies are working and you’re converting more leads as a result.

However, you can’t afford to get complacent. Your commitment to the process should be ongoing. After all, for any number of reasons, tactics that are successful in the run up to Christmas could alienate customers in January.

Whatever the time of year, if you know who is interacting with your marketing, and how, you’ll ensure your company is well positioned for growth.

 

By Sarah Groves,Cognition Agency

You read more marketing tips by downloading any of Cognition’s free eguides.

Cognition is a full-service marketing agency and a Funding Circle borrower. It’s known for its commercial approach, linking marketing activity to revenue and growth.

If you’re interested in taking out a Funding Circle business loan, you can apply online at anytime.

 

Our franchise was 30% busier after borrowing £100,000

For our first business trip of 2015, we visited the Bath franchise of the well-known “Neal’s Yard Remedies” to see how they were getting on after taking out their Funding Circle loan back in May 2014.

Neal’s Yard Remedies is a leading British retailer of organic beauty products and natural medicine. They operate a franchise network across the UK and their shop in central Bath, Somerset is just one of 40.

The Bath franchise is run by 3 co-owners who are all natural therapists: Jon Huxley an Acupuncturist, Amanda Lewis-Stark a Medical Herbalist and Elizabeth Season a Naturopath. They knew the business needed more space so they searched for funding to allow them to move out from their small site.

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After finding a larger premises just 20 yards from their existing shop, the business borrowed £100,000 from 935 individuals through Funding Circle – each lending as little as £20 to the business. Anne was one of them, and we invited her to come along to meet the business she lent to.

In this short video you’ll meet co-owners Elizabeth and Jon, hear their plans for the business, and how the money they raised from individual investors across the UK lead them to being 30% busier during the Christmas period, compared to Christmas 2013.

If, like Anne, you’re interested in supporting small businesses like the Bath franchise of Neal’s Yard, then you can sign up easily online. 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.

Does your business need finance? We’ve helped more than 7,000 business in both the UK and US access finance for a whole range of capital needs. You can apply online in less than 10 minutes.

More than 80 new loans! Weekly Lending Review

Week 5: 26 January – 1 February 2015

It’s been another busy week at Funding Circle as there are more than 80 new lending opportunities available to you on the marketplace right now, so place your bids before it’s too late! Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Retail and property and construction were the 2 most common business sectors, and expansion was the most popular reason for needing funding.

New loans available to you

There are currently 85 loan requests on the marketplace which are all available for you to lend to.

The total value of new Funding Circle loans was £12,457,780 averaging at £62,918 per loan. The largest loan value was £382,500 and the smallest loan value was £6,200.

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 and value of loans are reported weekly. The dates on the graph should be read as ‘week beginning’, for example: 25-Jan represents the week of 25th January – 1st February 2015.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)

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Number of listed loans per week

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Listed loan value per week

value

We made it onto the 2015 FinTech 50 list!

For the second year running, we’ve made it on to the FinTechCity list; a list of 50 of Europe’s most promising FinTech companies. Thank you all for your continued support!

We’re here to answer the questions you have

Join us on the forum this week to ask your tech and website related questions. We’ll have David T, our VP of Engineering answering them all next week.

Loans defaulted last week

Facade installation company. Loan 6242

This London business has been trading since 2008 and they are entering liquidation. All affected investors have been notified.

Windsor Pub. Loan 8296

This business has been trading since 2009 and has entered into administration. All affected investors have been notified.

Fixtures and fittings business. Loan 5481

This Hampshire business has been trading since 2005 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Scientific consumables company. Loan 5476

This Northamptonshire business has been trading since 2008 and has entered into formal insolvency proceedings. All affected investors have been notified.

Care home. Loan 4985

This Worcestershire business has been trading since 2009 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Our collections and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts for all of these loans.

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

 

£500 million lent

What a milestone! In just four and a half years, your lending has helped more than 7,000 businesses access half a billion pounds of finance via Funding Circle.

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You are now lending approximately £35 million a month to creditworthy small businesses, making Funding Circle’s marketplace the fourth largest net lender to small businesses in the UK. Since launch, this has created an estimated 21,000 jobs.

Geoff Ridgeon and David Massey run the award winning restaurant, The Exhibition Rooms, based in Crystal Palace, London. Last year they borrowed £36,000 from 763 investors to open a second restaurant, Brighton Way, based in Streatham Hill.

Geoff Ridgeon, co-owner at ‘The Exhibition Rooms’, said: “At first we tried to approach the banks, but we were consistently told that lending to restaurants wasn’t a priority this year. We were recommended Funding Circle by a friend, and after checking it out, we decided to apply. It was stress-free and straightforward, but more than anything we found that people wanted to invest in us.”

Last week, we also announced a second referral partnership with RBS (following the one we announced last year with Santander). This will help to raise awareness within the small business community of other finance options now available to them, providing you with ever more lending opportunities on the marketplace.

We’ve just hit £500 million! Weekly Lending Review

Week 4: 19 – 25 January 2015

Today we were excited to pass the milestone of £500 million lent to small businesses across the UK. Onwards and upwards to £1 billion!

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There are currently more than 100 new lending opportunities available to you, so place your bids before it’s too late! Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Property and construction remained the most popular sector for the second week running and the most common reason for needing funding was to expand.

New loans available to you

There are currently 131 loan requests on the marketplace which are all available for you to lend to.

The total value of new Funding Circle loans was £11,381,300 averaging at £57,192 per loan. The largest loan value was £320,000 and the smallest loan value was £7,000.

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 and value of loans are reported weekly. The dates on the graph should be read as ‘week beginning’, for example: 19-Jan represents the week of 19th-25th January 2015.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)

yield

Number of listed loans per week

number

Listed loan value per week

value

£500 million lent

Today we celebrated passing the £500 million lent milestone to businesses across the UK. Thanks to everyone for your support over the years, and here’s to the next £500 million!

Loans defaulted last week

French bakery. Loan 2520

This Middlesex business has been trading since 2010 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Tile retailer. Loan 2520

This Plymouth business has been trading since 2010 and wishes to propose a Company Voluntary Arrangement. All affected investors have been notified.

Foreign exchange. Loan 1586

This Sussex business has been trading since 1995 and is in arrears with their repayments. All affected investors have been notified.

Social housing builder. Loan 4907

This Newport business has been trading since 2006 and has entered into administration. All affected investors have been notified.

Our collections and recoveries team are working to recover the outstanding amounts for all of these loans.

 

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

A £515k loan and December’s industry news. Weekly Lending Review

Week 3: 16 – 19 January 2015

There are more than 60 new lending opportunities available to you on the marketplace right now, so place your bids before it’s too late! Last week, the majority of businesses looking for funding were in the property and construction sector and the most popular reason for needing funding was to expand. Remember, by lending to businesses your ital is at risk.

We also have a £515,000 loan on the marketplace for a company who develops and manufactures industry leading software and hardware for the broadcast and film industry.

New loans

There are currently 64 loan requests on the marketplace which are all available for you to lend to.

The total value of new Funding Circle loans was £7,191,900 averaging at £63,645 per loan. The largest loan value was £515,000 and the smallest loan value was £7,000.

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 and value of loans are reported weekly. The dates on the graph should be read as ‘week beginning’, for example: 12-Jan represents the week of 12th-19th January 2015.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)

yield

Number of listed loans per week

number

Listed loan value per week

value

Highlights from December’s industry news

In this month’s peer-to-peer lending news roundup we have a new tax relief for your lending, predictions of 2015 being a big year for your money and a new investor at Funding Circle.

 

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

 

Chancellor introduces new tax relief for investors. December industry news

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Is alternative finance the answer to SME lending?

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, co-founder James Meekings went on CNBC to discuss why traditional small business lending is still shrinking, and what other options are now available to small business owners. Online marketplaces are one such option, linking supply and demand directly. Funding Circle is now the 4th largest net lender to small businesses in the UK.

Autumn Statement 2014: P2P lenders welcome tax relief boost

The Autumn Statement itself included some great news for individual investors. The Chancellor outlined tax and regulation changes which we have been campaigning for since we launched in 2010. From April, you will be able to offset any losses – or bad debt – against your net return. You can read more about what this means here. The news was also covered in the Times and Guardian.

Funding Circle strikes deal in US

Last month we also announced that for the first time, a global investor will be investing in small business loans through the Funding Circle UK marketplace. A private fund, managed by New York-based KLS Diversified Asset Management, will be investing £132 million in loans to UK small businesses. The KLS-managed fund will invest in whole loans across all risk bands and will not compete with any individual investors lending on partial loans. It’s a significant step on the journey to creating a stable and sustainable global marketplace, where creditworthy businesses borrow directly from a diverse range of investors – you can read more here.

Why investors are bullish on Lending Club IPO

In a landmark moment for the industry, Lending Club, an online marketplace in the US which focuses on personal loans, became the first to publicly list on the New York Stock Exchange. Our US Managing Director went on Bloomberg to discuss the potential of the marketplace model. CEO Samir Desai also discussed the news on CNBC, and you can read more in the Times and City AM.

Banks are taking a risk by treating peer-to-peer lenders lightly

The Financial Times warns banks are at risk of treating the industry too lightly. The piece compares the disruption marketplace lending is causing, to Uber’s rapid expansion across the globe. Whereas taxi drivers have rushed out their own online apps and mounted the legal barricades to stop Uber even pulling up in their neighbourhoods, the way mainstream banks have responded to peer-to-peer lending  is much more laid back.

A year of change for your money

In an end of year roundup piece, the FT predicts that 2015 will be a big year for the industry following a successful 2014.

News

How To Brand A New Product Or Service To Win The Right Business

When you’re preparing to launch a new product it’s natural to think about new branding to reflect your investment in development and aspirations for success.

The key is to develop branding that will give you the sales you want.

The right product branding can help you punch above your weight when entering new market segments. However, there are several considerations to take into account when branding new products or services.

Product branding strategy – Questions to ask yourself

 

1. What brand equity do you have in your existing product branding?

If your current product or service ranges enjoy substantial brand equity, you potentially risk losing positive association and recognition if you deviate too far from them.

Think carefully about your target customers, looking at cross- and up-sell opportunities related to your existing range. If there are strong links with other products or services you offer, radically different branding risks cannibalising your customer base and negatively impacting sales across your portfolio.

2. How competitive is your market?

You need to balance your existing brand equity against the level of saturation and competition in the market segment you’re entering.

In a competitive market, the right branding can deliver the cut-through you need to win business. It helps you position your product or service as a new breed, delivering a more appealing proposition to your customers.

Product branding execution – Practical considerations

Once you’ve considered strategic elements around existing equity and market competition, there are several practical elements to consider.

1. Start by being clear on your brand promise

A brand is not just a logo. The logo is just a visual cue that supports the wider brand, which encompasses the promise you make to your customers about the experience you offer.

To give you a basic example, easyJet, with its typeface and orange and white colour palette, offers a promise of cheap flights. Sir Stelios has expanded into other markets, such as gyms, property rental and hotels. All use the same design scheme. Because of the equity around the easyJet brand, you know at a glance that easyHotel and easyGym offer that same low-cost, no-frills promise. If easyGroup companies stop being cheaper, all the orange in the world isn’t going to help them retain and acquire customers.

You therefore need to start with clear idea of what promise your product or service is making, and then develop the design and marketing materials to communicate that idea.

2. Emphasise benefits over features

People don’t buy what your product does, they buy how it helps them. How do you save money? How do you make their lives easier?

For example, a new software solution might use an innovative, proprietary code to aggregate data from multiple sources. That’s the feature. The benefit is that the user can see exactly what’s going on in his business at a glance. At a basic level, the software saves time while facilitating growth.

Your brand promise therefore needs to go beyond specific product features to cut to the heart of why people should care about it.

3. Select a design you can use across multiple platforms

Between marketing collateral, point-of-sale materials, exhibition stands, website, advertising, media articles and email templates you will have to use the brand design in many different contexts.

Make sure the design you choose will work well (and cost-effectively) in all these different media.

For example, an icon of a water droplet can look brilliant in print. You can divide elements of the image so some are gloss varnished, meaning the droplet will have a nice sheen on brochures and business cards. However, translate that image to a website and it will look bland and flat. The print cost associated with that gloss varnish will also be higher than basic print, which may be impractical for general materials like product sheets.

4. Create a trademark where possible

Your product brand will have value in terms of intellectual property. Getting the legal protection of a trademark will help protect that value, and the market position you’re cultivating.

Are there other branding considerations that you’ve found to be crucial for your business based on past experience launching new products or services?

By Simon Jolly, Cognition Agency

You read more marketing tips by downloading any of Cognition’s free eguides.

Cognition is a full-service marketing agency and a Funding Circle borrower. It’s known for its commercial approach, linking marketing activity to revenue and growth.

If you’re interested in taking out a Funding Circle business loan, you can apply online at anytime.