Case study: From pro-athlete to business owner – Christine is ‘made to do more’

Growing up an hour from the South Coast, Christine Johnston excelled at sports and wanted to be a professional athlete. Her dad got her into windsurfing, and she quickly got hooked – pestering him to drive her to competitions across the South Coast. During an impressive pro career, Christine won eight national titles, represented Great Britain at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and most impressively, won the World Windsurfing Championships in 2003.  

Spotting a business opportunity

When she finished her professional windsurfing career in 2008, she worked in an office for five years but it didn’t satisfy her adventurous and ambitious nature. She saw kitesurfing develop as a sport and decided she wanted to get involved, so she took lessons and then an instructors course with British Kitesports, the national governing body for kitesurfing and taught for several seasons in Brighton, Australia and South Africa – gaining experience in a variety of different conditions. With many hours of teaching under her belt, Christine spotted a business opportunity; “I’m quite an ambitious person so the next logical step for me was to be able to put my stamp on teaching by opening my own school”.

In February 2014, she opened The KiTE, SURF & SUP Co in Worthing, West Sussex.

Growth & expansion

The school went from strength to strength under Christine’s leadership, and after two years of steady growth she was ready to expand. “One of the biggest costs in kitesurfing is the equipment;  it’s important to have up-to-date equipment so you have the best equipment for a range of wind conditions, for your pupil’s body weight and their experience levels.”

A business loan enabled Christine to fund more equipment and instructors, and she now offers kitesurfing lessons, ‘Stand Up Paddle’ lessons and a range of kites, kitesurfing, and stand up paddle equipment in her online store.

“ If I hadn’t had a loan from Funding Circle I would have struggled with stock levels and equipment for the school.”  Christine Johnston, founder The KiTE SURF & SUP Co.

Developing a new passion

Christine still loves to kitesurf, but she has developed a new passion – teaching others. As the reviews from satisfied pupils testify, Christine is an excellent teacher while keeping an all-important focus on safety – but she admits that when your business is growing, it is all too easy to lose sight of the thing you loved in the first place. For Christine, her new passion is teaching and a big learning for her in expanding the business has been the need to continue to find time to do what she loves and not get tied up with the day-to-day of running the school. “When you’re running a business it can be difficult to maintain a work/life balance but the quality of your work suffers if you’re on call 24/7 and always responding,” she says.

Christine tries to take one day a week where she switches off from the business by doing yoga or playing touch rugby, but she admits it isn’t easy when you are the only person responsible for your business. Her trick is to prioritize the tasks that need a fast response – “the gold dust” as she calls them – such as booking requests, which really impact her business. She responds to these immediately, fitting other tasks in around responding to customers.

The power of visualization

With a degree and a Masters in Sports Psychology, Christine sees parallels between the mental resilience that an athlete needs to win, and the drive necessary for a small business owner to succeed. Her top tip for business owners struggling with confidence is a psychology technique used by athletes called ‘acting as if’. “You act as if you’re already where you want to be” she says. “When I was windsurfing, I used to imagine I was already a top 10 competitor and this trained my muscles and my brain to get me there.” In business, she imagines the bigger business she aspires to run and behaves as if she’s already there. This technique has helped her take on roles that aren’t her natural strong suit; “when you’re running a business alone, you suddenly have to become the Recruitment Director, the Marketing Manager – things you’ve never had experience in before”. For anyone struggling with Imposter Syndrome, this technique can be a game changer.

Time spent planning can have a big impact on your bottom line

One of the biggest leaps forward for Christine’s business has been going through a ‘Profit Improvement Plan’ which is forecast to improve net profitability an impressive 600% by year end. So how did she do it? Together with her dad who is a management consultant, she looked at the profitability of every part of her business and was able to make a series of small changes which have all added up. From focusing on the brands which give her the best profit margins, to negotiating better prices with suppliers, the impact of these small changes has really impacted her profits.

For example, this exercise showed Christine that the most profitable part of her business is giving lessons, so she has developed alternative teaching plans for when wind conditions aren’t favourable on her normal beach and she’s much more focused with her own time – so now she’s able to teach 20% more lessons, directly improving her bottom line. “It’s all simple stuff”, she says, “but looking at it in black and white was essential to help me see how I could improve my profits”.

Taking the time to think strategically about your business this way is essential to achieve growth, she says.

“It’s easy to firefight all day – you get straight into answering emails, taking bookings – but it’s critical to give yourself permission to plan for your business. Time spent thinking about strategy is not time wasted.”

What’s next for The KiTE SURF & SUP Co?

Christine has just invested in new equipment which she hopes will open up a new revenue stream for her, and she’s focused on finding premises to enable her to expand the business and offer more lessons. “I was always brought up to believe I could achieve anything” she says, and with such a winning mindset, we don’t doubt for a minute that she’ll succeed.


  • Maintaining a work/life balance – Christine tries to take one day a week where she takes a break from the business and does yoga or plays rugby to switch off
  • In a seasonal business, it can be particularly hard to find good people who care about your business when they’re only working for you for part of the year
  • Finding a path to growth – Christine has identified finding premises as the next big step forward for her company, but finding the right location is not easy


  • In July 2016 The KiTE SURF & SUP Co was awarded British Kitesports Recognised School status, the highest level a kite school can reach.
  • Increasing net profits by 600% from last year, after working on a Profit Improvement Plan which has helped her increase turnover too

Find out more about how an affordable business loan can help your business fly at




Get John Lewis vouchers when you add funds and lend it to businesses

For a limited time only, you’ll receive gift vouchers when you add £15,000 or more to your Funding Circle account! Transfer funds into your account today and you could treat yourself to an Apple Watch, Sonos Smart Speaker, Amazon Echo or whatever you need with John Lewis gift vouchers.

What value John Lewis vouchers can I claim?

The amount you receive depends on how much you transfer into your account:

  • Add £50,000 to get £400
  • Add £30,000 to get £250
  • Add £20,000 to get £150
  • Add £15,000 to get £100

What do I need to do?

Firstly, you need to register your account for the promotion. Simply login to your account, go to the Transfer in page and enter your email address on the pop up window.

Then you need to add funds to your account between 21st of February and 31st of March 2019 to get the voucher amount you want. On March 31st, we’ll look at the amount added to your account during this period minus any withdrawals. This will determine the vouchers you’ll qualify for. If you have both ISA and Classic accounts, we’ll look at the amount added between them.

You also need to have lending switched on and keep those funds lent out until 21st of June 2019. If you withdraw funds (from either your Classic or ISA account) you may receive a lower voucher amount or no longer qualify. We’ll then send your vouchers out to your registered email address. For full terms and conditions click here.

Register and transfer funds now

Can I use my ISA and Classic accounts?

You can only claim one gift per person. If you have only an ISA account and have used up your ISA allowance, you can either transfer existing ISAs you hold from other providers, or open a Classic account.

If you have both an ISA and Classic account registered to the same email address, you can split the extra funds between the two. However, if you withdraw from one and transfer to the other, you won’t qualify for a gift. We’ll look at the net amount added between the two.

Can I transfer an ISA from an existing provider?

You can also transfer existing ISAs from other providers. In order for your ISA transfer to qualify, you need to fill out the ISA transfer form in your Funding Circle account between 21st of February and 31st of March 2019. The ISA transfer will need to be complete, with funds distributed to your Funding Circle account and lending switched on, by midnight on 21st of June 2019.

Register and transfer funds now

For more information call us on 020 7401 9111 or Terms and conditions apply.

By lending to businesses your capital is at risk. Not covered by Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Your tax-free entitlement depends on your circumstances and may change.

Enjoy lending!

The Funding Circle team

John Lewis is not a participant in or sponsors of this promotion. All related John Lewis logos are trademarks of John Lewis Partnership plc 2013.

Update to our projected returns

At Funding Circle, our aim is to allow you to earn attractive, stable returns by lending directly to a diversified portfolio of creditworthy businesses. As part of this commitment, we regularly review our projected returns based on our assessment process, the interest rates at which you lend to businesses and the performance of loans.

Taking into account these factors and the mix of businesses in each lending option, following our most recent review we have updated the projected returns for each lending option.

What are the new projected returns?

The projected returns are a forward looking estimate for loans added to your portfolio, and do not affect loans you already hold. As a result of our review, the projected returns for our Balanced and Conservative lending options are now:

Balanced: 5.5% to 6.5%

Conservative: 4.9% to 5.2%

You can see more information on how the projected return is calculated here.

Providing a clear view of how your account is performing

We have also recently updated your Summary page to make it easier to see how your portfolio is performing. Previously, we showed investors three different returns: gross yield, an annualised net return and an estimated fully diversified return. We have received feedback that showing three returns can be confusing, so to make this simpler you will now only see one return in your account, the annualised return.

The annualised return represents how your account is currently performing and is calculated after fees and bad debt. This links directly to your investment earnings and will help you to evaluate how your account has performed since you started lending through Funding Circle.

What other factors can affect your return?

It’s important to understand that your actual return may be higher or lower than the projected return shown for your chosen lending option. This can be caused by factors such as:

  • Actual performance may be higher or lower than projected – for example, more businesses may be unable to repay their loans if macroeconomic conditions were to change, such as during an economic downturn. In addition, the individual businesses you lend to may perform better or worse than projected.
  • The number of businesses you lend to – as you are lending to your own individual portfolio of loans, not everyone will earn the same projected return. Your personal projected return depends on the loans your funds are matched with, and the more businesses you lend to the better our lending tool will be at matching your funds to achieve the projected returns shown. Lending to more businesses also helps you earn a more stable return by reducing the impact of bad debt.
  • Your actual return is likely to change over time – the projected return is the annual return you could earn once all loans have repaid and recoveries have been received from defaulted loans. Bad debts do not typically occur evenly over the life of a group of loans, and it often takes time for recoveries to be made on defaulted loans. This means your return is likely to change over time. You can read more about this here.

Will this affect the businesses you lend to?

These projected returns will affect your lending going forward, and do not affect any loans you already hold. We will review and if necessary, update the projected returns every three months. We display projected returns for the past five years of loans on our statistics page, and update these every three months.

You do not need to do anything and, by having lending switched on, you will continue to lend to businesses automatically. As always, you can change your lending option or pause lending via the lending settings page of your account.

If you have any questions about today’s news, please get in touch. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

The Funding Circle team


How to save for retirement

Jasmine Birtles is a TV and newspaper journalist and personal finance expert. In her articles she’ll be helping you get the most from your investment and reach your personal goals.  

Retirement seems so far away and there are so many other demands on your income that it’s easy to put it off.

However, the good news about investing for retirement is that even small amounts that are put away now can grow to an impressive pile once you decide to slow down a bit.

The aim is to amass a pot of money that is big enough for you to live on for a few decades (you should expect to have a retirement of at least 20 years, if not considerably longer). How you collect up this pot of money is up to you. Pensions are often a good way to do this – particularly because of the tax saving while you work – but it’s not the only way.

Here are a few ways to save for retirement without having to think too much about it!

Make the most of your workplace pension

This is a lovely easy one because if you are an employee – even if you work privately, say as a nanny or carer – you should automatically be enrolled in a workplace pension. According to the new rules, you should be paying 5% of your income into it and, crucially, your employer will also have to pay 3% extra on top of that. So that’s free money from your employer! Not only that, because it’s a pension, the rules say that the Government has to add in the tax you would have paid on that money. So from the start your pot has grown.

Consider setting up your own pension

If you’re self-employed then you will need to be responsible for sorting out your own pension, if you want one.

Personal pensions used to be expensive (in terms of the management fees) and generally poor-performing. Nowadays though they are forced to charge a lower management fee, so you have as good a chance of the pot growing as you would if you had a workplace pension. The only downside is that you don’t have an employer adding to your pot.

As a self-employed person you could consider investing in:

  • Stakeholder pension (the maximum management fee they can charge is 1.5%)
  • Self-invested Personal Pension (SiPP) where you decide what to invest your money in
  • NEST pension (National Employment Savings Trust)

Use your ISA allowance

While pensions have the advantage of tax put in at the start, when you come to retire and live off your pension you will need to pay tax on that income. However, with ISAs it’s the other way round. You pay into an ISA out of your taxed income, then you’re not taxed on the gains you make and when you take it out at the end you get it all tax-free.

However, if you’re using your ISA as part of your retirement savings (and that’s the right thing to do with it, by the way) then you should be putting money in an Innovative Finance or Stocks & Shares ISA. These do better than a Cash ISA in the long-term. Take a look at Index-Tracking Funds (more in this article on as they are a cheap and easy way to invest in the stock market and you can get them wrapped in an ISA.

Get creative about retirement savings

There’s absolutely no law that says you have to invest in pensions or even stock market products for your retirement. Frankly all sorts of different things could set you up for your golden years.  The ideal is to have money in a range of products including pensions, ISAs and, ideally, other investments too.

Other things you could invest in include:

  • Property (either in the UK or abroad)
  • Online lending such as Funding Circle
  • Collections (like art, jewellery, classic cars, Elvis memorabilia, plastic action figures and more!)
  • Gold, silver and other precious metals.

Really, any of these could help you save for retirement. They all have pros and cons and it depends on your likes and your lifestyle which you would go for.

For example, with online lending you can support UK businesses and help the economy grow as well as your nest egg.

Property is usually a good investment long-term, although there are a lot of costs involved in maintaining it and you’re never sure if the price will go up, particularly if you buy abroad. Gold and silver are good ‘safe havens’ when we go through economic uncertainty. It’s worth having some of that if you can do it.

Collections on the other hand can sometimes grow exponentially in value – some Lego sets go up by 1000’s of per cent over a few years. Collections can be very lucrative if you get it right, but it’s more of a gamble. Some people have managed to fund a new conservatory by selling their collection of designer clothes. Others have lived well by selling good art they invested in early. However, you can never know if a particular collection will keep its value. For example, right now posh dinner services which might have fetched thousands a few years ago are hard to shift, and beautifully carved, heavy wooden furniture can barely be given away. So collections should be used as an extra to your core investments only.

For more information

To find out more about the Funding Circle ISA visit

By lending to businesses your capital is at risk. The tax-free entitlement of an ISA depends on your individual circumstances and may change. Not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

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.

Bellissima Weddings: Growing a successful bridal boutique

Bellissima Weddings is a thriving bridal boutique in Essex, founded by husband and wife team Laura and Michael Daly. With support from Funding Circle, they have grown their award-winning business to employ 14 staff over the past 18 years. In this case study, Laura shares how her business came about, her top tips for staying relevant to your customers and how she overcame some of her biggest challenges.

Bellissima Weddings, Laura Daly

Before founding Bellissima Weddings, Laura lived in Italy and spent her time as a dancer and fashion model. Having worked for an Italian bridal company, Laura was accustomed to being fitted and pinned into bridal gowns. With first-hand experience, Laura understood the creative process behind wedding dresses and began to expand her knowledge of the bridal fashion world. She had an immediate aptitude for it. After moving back home, Laura saw a niche in the UK bridal market. She felt that the existing bridal retailing industry was stuck in 1980 and appeared old-fashioned and stuffy. Laura would walk into bridal shops and think to herself “this isn’t right!”. That’s when she knew she wanted to do something about it and start her own bridal boutique to give brides a better experience.

Bridesmaids dresses at Bellissima Weddings

Bellissima set out to deliver a more modern approach with unbeatable customer service. This is what won Bellissima Weddings their first customers. Brides would say, “I don’t know what I’m buying but I’m buying it from here” and that’s when Bellissima knew they had got it right.

In 2001, Laura and her husband opened Bellissima Weddings as a joint venture. At the time, Laura’s husband was working in a full-time job as a policeman, so it was just Laura on the shop floor. In the first year, they couldn’t cope with the amount of business they were generating. They had people queuing outside the door and queuing to try on gowns in the bathroom! To keep up with demand, they took on another member of staff. In 2002, Michael decided to go part-time as a policeman because keeping on top of Bellissima’s books was demanding more and more of his time; one year later he took a career break to work at Bellissima full time to keep up with their exponential growth he never went back!

How they grew

Although Laura is the face of the business, Bellissima Weddings bridal boutique wouldn’t be where it is today without the hard work of both Michael and Laura, “we’re the yin and yang” says Laura. The business was doubling sales each year so, in 2003, they moved into a bigger 3,000 square foot shop where the boutique remains today. Bellissima now employs 14 people. Laura’s attitude to her staff is very much that they contribute as much, and are as vital to Bellissima’s success, as her and Michael.

“It’s not a question of us and them. Everyone works for the business and we all feed the monster every day. We all work for the one big name that is Bellissima.” Laura Daly.

Laura treats all her staff as critical to the business' success

Laura’s business highlights

  • Winning the top two industry awards — the Oscars of the bridal world – ‘Bridal Buyer Award’ in 2010, voted by their peers, and ‘Wedding Industry Award’ in 2017, voted by customers.
  • In 2011, Laura was voted Essex Business Woman of the Year.
  • Laura was the chair of the Retail Bridalwear Association but stood down because it compromised running her business. She is now vice chair.
  • Laura writes a monthly column in Wedding Trader. She uses the platform to voice the retailer point of view to suppliers.
  • Bellissima being presented to Princess Anne when she visited one of their suppliers as a top account, a few years ago.

Challenges of running a bridal boutique

  • Cash flow: Keeping it healthy is a rocky road. In the first few years, Laura and Michael found it almost impossible to do any projections, so learning to forecast effectively has been a challenge.
  • Carving out a niche in a crowded market: Bellissima had to reinvent the wheel to make themselves different. This is a constant challenge for the brand and Bellissima have annual meetings to discuss how they can improve to keep their customers happy. “The challenge is making our shop look familiar without being the same as everyone else.” – Laura Daly
  • Finding the right staff: To work in the bridal industry, you have to be passionate about people and fashion. Bellissima do roughly 500 bridal gowns a year and every wedding is as important as the next. The staff at Bellissima strive to ensure every single bride has a great emotional journey from A to Z. “I can do that in my sleep. I was born to do that!” says Laura.

Laura’s top tips for small business owners

  • Enter awards even if you don’t think you might win! It forces you to look at your business in a snapshot of time with a critical eye.
  • Don’t be too proud to take criticism. Negative feedback allows you to improve.
  • Don’t open a business unless you are absolutely passionate about it.
  • Focus on how you can differentiate from your competition. “In the first few years, you will be living your business 24/7. In this climate where there’s every variety of everything already on the market, unless you know that you can make yourself different and stand out, don’t do it.”
  • Understand your customers. “A beautiful store with great stock and wonderful service is nothing if you’re not offering what your customer actually wants. Do your homework and work out what your customers need.”

Funding Circle

Laura and her husband came to Funding Circle when it was the business’ 15th birthday. They found that other bridal retailers had caught up with them and they needed to do something different. To reinvent themselves Bellissima needed a new refurbishment, new designers and new stock — that’s where Funding Circle came in.

They liked the idea of ordinary people investing in their business. “It spurs you on to do what you said you were going to do. You owe it to everybody because they have faith in you and are behind you cheering you on. It’s not just money taken from a bank.”

Laura’s message to their investors…

“However small or great the amount was, you don’t realise the difference it’s made. Whatever you think you’ve done, you’ve done ten times more. So thank you. To know you’ve got people behind you and supporting you is a great feeling.”

Top investor articles from 2018

Want to know what other investors are reading? If you’re new to the platform or missed any of these last year, below we have our top investor articles from 2018. Remember to keep a look-out for new blogs, videos and more in our monthly newsletter.

Make the most of your lending experience

Find out how to make your money work as hard as possible for you. This article outlines five key tips to help you to get the most out of your investor account so you can earn a stronger, more stable return.

Digging into the data: How investor returns change over time

Investor returns often go through distinct stages. So you know what to expect, this article runs through how an account with us typically performs and the reasons why. It’s a helpful read for all investors!

What is compound interest and how can it boost your earnings?

Do you know how compound interest works? Did you know that it can make a huge difference to your earnings? If you are a bit confused then check out this blog post. It clearly explains what compound interest is and how you can use it in the long term to generate larger returns.

Bad debt, defaults and why not to be afraid of them

Defaults are a natural part of lending to businesses and something investors should understand and be fully comfortable with. This post explains how bad debt works, how we account for it and what we do to minimise its impact.

How to earn a more stable return with diversification

Diversification is incredibly important. It enables you to spread your risk and earn a more stable return in the long term. In this post we use an infographic to explain what it means and how you can diversify at Funding Circle.

Saving for a house – by Jasmine Birtles

If getting on the property ladder or buying your next property is a long way off, personal finance expert Jasmine Birtles outlines a few things you can do to speed things up. She highlights the different schemes available and saving techniques for potential homeowners in the UK.

Remember, by lending to business your capital is at risk and funds are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Video. The urban spa that’s healing with your help

January is a big month for fitness and health kicks, so if you’re digging out the gym pass or reaching for detox smoothies, we’ve got someone we’d like you to meet. Martha Mary is a business owner in Manchester. With a passion for healing and a mission to bring healing to the high street, she founded Urban Oasis day spa in 2004. 

With locations at Debenhams and the Hilton in central Manchester, Urban Oasis offers treatments ranging from massages and reiki to nails and lashes. As well as keeping up with the demands of running the business, Martha Mary still takes time to perform treatments herself. Although the workload can be intense, her love for what she does keeps her going. “You’ve got to have a lot of energy, empathy and patience. I love what I do and I’m very passionate about it. Trying to make a difference and do something positive with my life – that’s what really drives me.”

Thanks to Funding Circle investors, Urban Oasis took a loan to get a new accreditation, train staff and buy new equipment. Watch the video below to learn more about her passion and the challenges of running a small business. 

ISAs – a complete guide

ISAs have had a shake up in the last few years, giving you more choice and potential rewards. To help you understand the options available, below you’ll find details on the different types of ISA, how they work and key points to be aware of. Always remember that tax rules depend on your individual circumstances and may change in the future.

What is an ISA?

ISA stands for Individual Savings Account. They allow you to earn interest on your savings or investments tax-free. The amount you can put into your ISA is capped for each tax year, for 2018/19 and 2019/20 it’s £20,000. This is called your ISA allowance.

You can choose to split your ISA allowance across different ISAs, or put it all in one. How you choose to do this can make a big difference to your earnings.

What types of ISA are there?

There is a variety of ISAs to suit different risk appetites and life stages. You can choose from a Cash ISA, Stocks & Shares ISA, Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA), Lifetime ISA (LISA) and Help to Buy ISA. There’s also a Junior ISA to help you save for the kids.

You can only pay into one of each type of ISA in any tax year. Each has different benefits, so it’s important to understand how they work.

Cash ISA

A Cash ISA works like a savings account, only all the interest you earn is completely tax-free. As with savings accounts, there’s a whole host of Cash ISA providers and options out there, such as instant access, fixed-rate or regular savers. Most are free to set up, but some may charge to withdraw.

Although you may earn a lower interest rate with a Cash ISA than a Stocks & Shares ISA or Innovative Finance ISA, they are very low risk. Your money is also protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which will compensate you up to £85,000 if you lose your money. However, if the interest rate offered is below inflation, you could be losing out in real terms.

Stocks & Shares ISA

You can also use an ISA to earn tax-free interest on investments. These Stocks & Shares ISAs will normally be managed using an app, online platform, broker or fund manager.

Your money could be invested in shares in public companies, bonds (essentially a loan to a company or government) or funds (a mixture of investments pooled together).

These types of investment can give you higher returns than you’d get with a Cash ISA, but they carry more risk. Although the interest is tax-free, your investment could go down as well as up.

There are often more fees associated with a Stocks & Shares ISA as well. Providers may charge you for opening an ISA, changing investments, withdrawing or transfering to another ISA provider.

Innovative Finance ISA

Innovative Finance ISAs allow you to earn tax-free interest by lending to people or businesses. There are a variety of online providers (often known as peer-to-peer lenders or lending platforms) that will focus on different groups. Some only lend to individuals, others to property developers, and some like Funding Circle that lend to small UK businesses.

As you’re lending your money, there’s a risk that the loans won’t be repaid. Providers mitigate this risk in different ways, such as spreading your funds across multiple loans.

As you’re lending your money, there’s a risk that the loans won’t be repaid. Providers mitigate this risk in different ways, such as spreading your funds across multiple loans.

Consequently, Innovative Finance ISAs typically sit somewhere between Cash ISAs and Stocks & Shares ISAs. They typically offer better returns than Cash ISAs and savings, but are more stable than playing the stock market.

With the Funding Circle ISA you could earn a projected return of 6-7% per year*. Find out more. Capital at risk.

Help to buy ISA

Help to buy ISAs are a type of Cash ISA made for first-time house buyers. You can save £1,200 in the first month, then £200 per month from then on. When you’re ready to buy your property, the Government will then add 25% as a bonus (up to £3,000).

As they are a type of Cash ISA, you can’t pay into both a Cash ISA and a Help to buy ISA in the same tax year. If you’ve opened your Cash ISA this year, you can transfer the funds to your Help to buy ISA. If you have more than £1,200 in there, you can transfer the rest elsewhere.

Lifetime ISA

Like the Help to buy ISA, a Lifetime ISA can help you at important life stages. It can also help you buy your first home, or you can keep it open and use it for retirement.

You can deposit up to £4,000 per year and get a 25% bonus from the state. The bonus is paid monthly (if you make a deposit that month), and once it’s in your account it counts as your money, so you can earn interest on it too. You have to be between 18-39 to open one, and you’ll get contributions up to the age of 50.

If, however, you take the money out for anything other than buying your first home or retirement, there is a penalty of 25%. That leaves you around 6% down overall. It sounds counterintuitive, but here’s an example to show how it works:

£4,000 + 25% = £5,000

£5,000 – 25% = £3,750

How can I use my ISA allowance?

The ISA allowance is set every year. It’s risen from £7,000 in 1999 to £20,000 in 2019. While there used to be rules on how you can split your ISA allowance, now there’s more freedom.

As mentioned above, there are limits to how much you can put in a Lifetime ISA or Help to buy ISA. Aside from that you can choose to spread your £20,000 however you’d like to. You can put it all in one ISA, or spread it among a few.

Remember, if you choose to spread it out, it’s your responsibility to make sure you don’t go over your £20,000 ISA allowance in total. Providers will usually make sure you don’t exceed the limit in any one account, but they won’t know what ISAs you have elsewhere.

Any interest also won’t count towards your personal savings allowance. This is another allowance which lets you earn £1,000 of interest on savings each year without paying tax (£500 for higher tax rate payers). So if you have a lot of savings earning interest, an ISA will help you keep more of it tax-free.  

How do I get my money out of an ISA?

The rules for taking money out of your ISA depend on the type and provider you have. There is no set time period you need to start enjoying the tax-free benefits. However, some products may have fees for withdrawing or closing your account early.

Unless you have a flexible ISA, once you’ve taken out funds you can’t put them back in.

What is a flexible ISA?

With a flexible ISA, you can take money out and replace it within the same tax year without it affecting your tax-free ISA allowance. Here’s some examples to show how it works:

Judy has a flexible ISA. She’s paid in £20,000 already this year, using her whole allowance. She takes out £10,000 to buy a car, but because she has a flexible ISA she can pay the £10,000 back in before the April 5th deadline.

John has a non-flexible ISA. He’s also paid in £20,000 this year. He takes out £8,000 to redo his kitchen, but he can’t pay in any more until the next tax year.

Tina also has a non-flexible ISA. She’s paid in £5,000 this year, leaving £15,000 of her allowance left. She takes out £2,000 for a family holiday, but can still only pay £15,000 back in.

Whether an ISA is flexible or not depends on which ISA you have. Cash ISAs, Innovative Finance ISAs and cash in a Stocks & Shares ISA can all be flexible, but it depends on the provider.

Help to buy ISAs, Lifetime ISAs and Junior ISAs are not flexible.

When is the deadline for using my ISA allowance?

You must use your ISA allowance by April 5th to get the tax benefit for that year. The allowance does not roll over, so you will lose it if you don’t take advantage. From April 6th onwards it will be a new tax year with a new ISA allowance that you can use. The previous year’s allowance, however, will be gone.

Who is eligible for an ISA?

To be eligible for an ISA, you must:

  • Be 16 or over (18 or over for Innovative Finance ISA and Stocks & Shares ISA)
  • Live in the UK
  • Have a national insurance number

You can only take out an ISA in your own name. Joint ISAs with a friend, partner or relative aren’t allowed.

Can I transfer ISAs?

You can transfer ISAs from both the current tax year and previous years to a new provider. Just like your bank account or household bills, switching providers can help you get the best rates.

When transferring ISAs there are two important points to remember:

1 – Don’t withdraw the money yourself – speak to the new provider about a transfer

Transferring an ISA is not as simple as withdrawing from your bank account and depositing somewhere new. If you withdraw the money yourself, you can lose your tax benefit. Instead, speak to your new provider and ask them for an ISA transfer form. Normally they will then arrange the transfer for you.

As mentioned above, Stocks & Shares ISAs often charge a fee for transfering, withdrawing or closing an ISA.

2 – You can only pay into one of each type of ISA in any tax year

If you want to transfer a ISA from the current tax year, you’ll have to move all of it to the new provider. However, for ISAs from previous years, you can either move them all into one or split them across several providers.

What is a Junior ISA?

If your child is under 16, you can open a Junior ISA (JISA) for them instead. They only get an allowance of £4,260 at the moment, but if you open one when they’re born they’ve got plenty of years to rack up interest. You have a choice of Cash or Stocks & Shares, and you can divide the allowance between the two.

Although it’s in their name, the ISA is opened and managed by you. They can take over when they reach 16, but they can’t touch the cash until 18. Once they turn 18 though it’s their money to do want they want with.

The Funding Circle ISA

The Funding Circle ISA is an Innovative Finance ISA. By using the simple online platform, you can quickly lend to hundreds of small UK businesses. They get the money to grow and create jobs, and you can earn interest as they pay you back each month.

You can earn a projected return of 6-7% per year*. It’s a flexible ISA, so you can take money out without losing your tax-free allowance, and you can transfer ISAs from other providers.

Find out more about the Funding Circle ISA here.

By lending to businesses your capital is at risk. Tax rules depend on your individual circumstances and may change. Not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

*The rates shown are the annual projected returns, after fees and bad debts but before tax, that a diversified investor could earn with the Balanced lending option. Your actual return may be higher or lower than projected, for example due to the performance of the individual loans your funds are matched with, or a change in macroeconomic conditions.

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.

Looking back on the last three months: October – December 2018 review

Happy New Year! As we look forward to what 2019 has in store, we wanted to take a step back and celebrate what investors like you have achieved. As part of this, last week we updated our statistics page with our lending and performance figures up to 31st December 2018. Read on to find out more.

You’ve helped a record number of small businesses grow

Between October and December last year, investors lent £680 million to small businesses across the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands; bringing the total lending for 2018 to approximately £2.3 billion.

In the UK alone, more than £440 million was lent to UK small businesses between October and December. Alongside 79,000 investors, in 2018 you lent more than £1.5 billion to UK businesses. When you remove repayments received this year from that figure—what we call net lending—you have provided approximately £725 million of new funding to businesses all over the UK, an incredible achievement!

More of our key lending figures can be seen below:

You help all types of businesses from all over the UK

By lending through Funding Circle you make a huge difference to all kinds of businesses throughout the UK. With your help they’re able to grow, create jobs, develop new products and support local communities. Below is a breakdown of the sector and location of the UK businesses currently accessing finance through the Funding Circle platform.


An update from our Chief Risk Officer

In December our Chief Risk Officer, Jerome Le Luel, provided his insight into how the macroeconomic environment has impacted loan performance in the markets Funding Circle operates in, and what we have done to help ensure you continue to earn attractive returns. In the UK, loans taken out since 2012 are projected to deliver returns of between 4.7 – 7.3% per year, after fees and bad debt.*

Although the economic environment for small businesses in the UK remains strong, the outlook for consumer credit in the UK has worsened in recent years. This has impacted a small population of loans in our higher risk bands who can be more susceptible to shifting trends in the consumer credit environment. These headwinds are reflected in the projected returns for our 2016 and 2017 cohorts, the most recent of which can be seen on our statistics page. You can read Jerome’s update in full here.

We’re excited for the year ahead

We’re looking forward to what 2019 will bring. Following our public listing on the London Stock Exchange last year, we believe we’re in a strong position to help you lend to more small businesses than ever before, earning an attractive return while helping the UK economy to grow. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk, and your funds aren’t covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

*Projected returns for loans taken out in the UK between 2012-2018, as of 31st December 2018. The projected annualised return shows the return, after fees and bad debt, that loans are currently estimated to achieve. Loans are shown by the year they were taken out. The return is calculated by combining the actual annualised return received to date, and our latest return estimates, including expected recoveries, for the remaining term of loans that have not yet been fully repaid. Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns and by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Our Business Champion programme is a year old

Funding Circle Business Champion

At Funding Circle we’ve always valued our introducer community and the relationships we have with them. They are an integral part of our business and have played an important part in helping us get where we are today.

Now a year old, we created the Business Champion programme to give new opportunities and support to introducers who want to work closely with us. The programme is open to introducers of all shapes and sizes. We are looking for introducers that provide high quality business, show commitment to Funding Circle, provide great customer outcomes and are efficient to work with.

In return, we provide them with a unique offering that differs from anything else in the market. First and foremost, we provide a best-in-class service with faster decisions and personal support. By working closer together, we can help them say yes to more clients, more often.

What’s more, we also work with introducers to help grow their own business. By giving access to our marketing expertise and resources, we deliver campaigns and run analysis to attract and retain more clients.

Giving introducers the opportunity to grow and reach their full potential is at the heart of the Business Champion programme. Not only does it help us and our introducers, but benefits their clients and Funding Circle investors too.

2018 was an amazing year for our Business Champions, with record breaking quarters for lending and fantastic feedback on the new service. We’ve also continued to evolve the programme adding new benefits throughout the year.

Business Champions now receive:

  • Business Champion branding
  • £500,000 max loan size
  • Commission up to 6%
  • Funding Circle fees capped at 3%
  • Marketing support
  • Decision typically on the same day*

*When application is fully submitted with all documents before 1pm

Being a Business Champion is a mark of quality for introducers. It recognises their expertise and all the work they do to keep clients satisfied, as well as the quality of business they have provided to Funding Circle and investors.

We’re delighted with the success the programme has seen in its first year already, and we’ll keep forging stronger relationships that can help our introducers fly!

Are you a commercial finance broker looking for a fast, affordable funding solution for your clients?
Get in touch with our dedicated Introducer team at or give us a call on 020 3667 2208.


Introducing an improved and simplified Summary page

At Funding Circle, we want you to have a clear and simple view of your portfolio. As part of this, we have redesigned your Summary page and are excited to announce this is now live.

We have redesigned the Summary page to provide a snapshot of your account, with more detailed information easily available. The video guide below provides an overview of how you can navigate around the new pages to access all the information you need.


Providing a clear view of how your account is performing

Previously, we showed investors three different returns: gross yield, an annualised net return and an estimated fully diversified return. We have received feedback that showing three returns can be confusing, so to make this simpler you will now only see one return in your account, an annualised return.

The annualised return represents how your account is currently performing and is calculated after fees and bad debt. This links directly to your investment earnings and will help you to evaluate how your account has performed since you started lending through Funding Circle. The return is calculated in the same way as the previous annualised net return.

It’s worth remembering that your annualised return will change over time. Data at Funding Circle shows bad debt rarely occurs evenly over an investment period, and is typically concentrated during certain periods of a loan’s life. This means returns generally will dip, then begin to increase as recoveries arrive. You can read more about how returns change over time on our blog.

We have withdrawn the accrued interest figure

Your accrued interest is the interest that has built up, but not yet been paid, since the last payment by a borrower. As this is not money that has been actually received, this figure has now been withdrawn to provide a simpler view of your portfolio total. It is still possible to view the amount of interest due for each loan part via your repayment schedule.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

The Funding Circle team

Chief Risk Officer’s Update – December 2018

Jerome Le Luel joined Funding Circle as Global Chief Risk Officer three years ago; bringing with him more than 20 years of experience in risk management. His previous roles include Global Head of Risk Analytics at Barclays Bank and Global Chief Risk Officer at Barclaycard. Jerome leads a team of more than 100 risk professionals across the four markets Funding Circle operates in: including data scientists, credit risk analysts and credit assessment experts. Their role is to help ensure you can earn attractive returns by deploying industry-leading risk management techniques and models.

In the first of a bi-annual series, Jerome will provide his view of what has been happening in the wider economy, and what this means for the businesses you lend to.

The economic environment has created favourable lending conditions

Investors lend through Funding Circle to small businesses in the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands. Looking at these four economies in detail we can see that they have all recovered from the 2008 recession, with sustained growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the last four years:

1. GDP growth %, year on year

Source: Federal Reserve, ONS, OECD

In each of these markets, central banks have set historically low interest rates, making the cost of borrowing affordable and stimulating economic growth. Where interest rates have risen they have done so very gradually, to avoid triggering another recession:

2. Central bank interest rates

Source: Federal Reserve, BoE, ECB

This has resulted in strong levels of job creation and low unemployment rates:

3.Unemployment rate

Source: Federal Reserve, ONS, ECB OECD

This positive economic environment has created conditions that are highly favourable to lending. As a result, credit defaults for businesses have reduced significantly following the recession.

4. Small business insolvencies (Q1 2008 = 100)

Source: Paynet, Gov.UK, DESTATIS, CBS Statistics Netherlands

Across the US, Germany and the Netherlands consumer defaults are also at historic lows. However, the UK has seen an increase in the number of consumer insolvencies over the past two years:

5. Consumer insolvencies (Q1 2008 = 100)

Source: Federal Reserve, GOV.UK, DESTATIS, CBS Statistics Netherlands

This has been driven by a steady increase in consumer borrowing since 2013 as wages struggle to keep up with the cost of living. We haven’t seen this replicated in the UK small business space, as banks continue not to focus on small business lending. This can be seen below by the total outstanding stock of loans to small businesses, which is lower now than it was in 2011.

6. Outstanding loans to UK consumers and small businesses (£bn)

Source: BoE

However, the trends we have been seeing in the consumer space are having a knock-on effect on the overall insolvency rate of small businesses in the UK, which as we saw in graph 4, has risen slightly in recent months (although is still below pre-recession levels). For example some business owners—especially smaller ones—may be more reliant on personal credit cards than business bank overdrafts when managing the ongoing cash flow of their business.  

This trend looks to be isolated to the UK, with consumer and small business insolvency levels remaining low in the US, Germany and the Netherlands.

Loan performance has been strong

Investors lending through Funding Circle have continued to earn attractive, stable returns. Across our four markets, loans taken out since 2016 are projected to deliver returns of approximately 4 – 7% per year, after fees and bad debt.

Projected returns* after fees and bad debt, all markets

Source: Funding Circle

The consistency of these returns is reflected in recent lending commitments from some of the larger investors who lend through the platform. In addition to a new £150m funding facility from the British Business Bank (the UK government’s development bank), over the past few months two well-established institutions have committed to lend $1 billion and £1 billion to small businesses in our US and UK markets respectively.


We have seen consistent improvement in the performance of US loans since 2016. This has been driven by two key factors: an increase in the proportion of lower risk businesses accessing finance through the platform, and the increasing maturity of our risk models, now in their fourth generation in the US.

Projected returns after fees and bad debt, US

Source: Funding Circle


We have adjusted our pricing to reflect that base interest rates are rising faster in the US than our other markets, and loans originated in Q1-Q3 2018 are currently projected to earn investors 5.8% – 7.8% after fees and bad debt.


Although the credit environment for small businesses remains strong, as mentioned the outlook for consumer credit in the UK has worsened in recent years. This has impacted a small population of loans in our higher risk bands who can be more susceptible to shifting trends in the consumer credit environment. These headwinds are reflected in the projected returns for our 2016 and 2017 cohorts, which are 5.4% – 6.3% and 5.2% – 6.2%.

Projected returns after fees and bad debt, UK

Source: Funding Circle

We regularly update and improve our assessment models, leveraging more than eight years of loan performance data, and we made adjustments in recent months to account for this. These include tightening some of our credit policies and deploying our latest risk model, incorporating data directly from an applying business’s bank. The loans that have been taken out following these adjustments are projected to deliver investors returns of 6% – 7% after fees and bad debt.


Since Funding Circle acquired a business in the German market towards the end of 2015, we have seen significant improvements in loan performance; supported by the implementation of learnings and best practices from our more developed markets.


Projected returns after fees and bad debt, Germany

Source: Funding Circle


We expanded into the Netherlands at the same time as Germany, and we have seen similar levels of improvement over the past few years. In both markets we have developed our in-house Collections and Recoveries capabilities, and are now seeing recovery rates at similar levels to the UK.


Projected returns after fees and bad debt, the Netherlands

Source: Funding Circle

This serves to highlight the self-improving nature of lending; the more businesses that access finance through lending platforms, the stronger and more predictive risk models become. This allows us to price loans with even more accuracy.

The outlook for the economic environment is encouraging

Across all of our markets we believe that conditions remain encouraging for small businesses. In the US the economy is on a strong trajectory, stimulated by recent tax measures that have provided incentives for businesses to make investments. Although the US economy may be closer to the end of the business cycle than the start, the fundamentals remain strong and the small business credit environment is likely to remain positive in the medium term.

In the UK trading conditions remain favourable, although Brexit is creating a degree of uncertainty. We can’t predict the outcome of negotiations between the UK and the European Union, however our stress modelling (see below) shows the UK loanbook is in a strong position to weather any potential economic fallout.

The economic recovery started later in Germany and the Netherlands, so there is likely to be further to run before the end of their business cycles. Both Germany and the Netherlands are export-oriented economies; they tend to sell more goods to other countries than they buy. This means there is the potential for some exposure to the rising political and international trade tension we have seen in recent years. However, overall we remain positive about the stability of the German and Dutch small business environment over the next few years.

We are confident returns will remain resilient through a recession

A deep understanding of credit risk, and first-hand experience of managing multi-billion pound lending portfolios—particularly through the 2008 recession—has taught me that although lending is cyclical, careful monitoring and a prudent approach can provide investors with attractive returns throughout every stage of the economic cycle. When downturns happen, defaults do increase. However, it’s important to remember the vast majority of borrowers should remain financially healthy.

At Funding Circle, we rigorously prepare for changes in economic conditions. Part of this is to regularly stress test the loans in each of our markets. To do this we take a base scenario**—the projected returns from loans being originated today—and using a bespoke stress testing model, apply a number of adverse scenarios recommended by each market’s central bank. This allows us to simulate what could happen to the projected returns established in our base scenario. Although every recession is different, the results show that even in severe economic conditions investors should still be expected to experience positive returns:


2018 Funding Circle stress test results

Source: Funding Circle Stress Test 2018.

These results assume that no action would be taken to mitigate losses in the event of a downturn. In reality, we carefully monitor loan performance for signs of stress. If there were signs that conditions were worsening, we would make adjustments to account for some of its effects: for example tightening our assessment process, or calibrating prices on new loans. These actions should mitigate some of the adverse impact on investors’ returns.

Although we can’t predict when and how the next recession will happen, my experience tells me that we are ready. We are originating resilient loans in all of our markets, and we have the right tools in place to mitigate economic stress if needed.

We hope you have found this information useful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, and remember by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Jerome Le Luel

*Projected returns as of 30th September 2018. The projected annualised return shows the return, after fees and bad debt, that loans are currently estimated to achieve. Loans are shown by the year they were taken out. The return is calculated by combining the actual annualised return received to date, and our latest return estimates, including expected recoveries, for the remaining term of loans that have not yet been fully repaid. Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns and by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

**Base case scenario taken from projected returns of loans originated Dec 2018.

This material contains certain tables and other statistical analyses that have been prepared by Funding Circle. Numerous assumptions have been used in preparing this statistical information, which may or may not be reflected in the material. The statistical information should not be construed as legal, tax, investment, financial, or accounting advice. The Information is provided as of the dates shown and is subject to updating and revision, and may change materially without notice. Subject to applicable regulations, no person is under any obligation to update or revise the information. The information may contain various forward-looking statements, which are statements that are not historical facts and that reflect Funding Circle’s beliefs and expectations with respect to future events and financial and operational performance. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions, estimates and other factors, which may be beyond the control of Funding Circle and which may cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied from such forward-looking statements. Nothing contained within the information is or should be relied upon as a warranty, promise, or representation, express or implied, as to the future performance of any loans. Any historical information contained in this statistical information is not indicative of future performance.

VIDEO. Three thriving Scottish businesses, thanks to your support

The patron saint of Scotland, St Andrew was known for being strong, sociable and fair. Characteristics that Scots are proud to stand for, they celebrate St Andrew’s Day with acts of kindness and good deeds on the 30th November each year.

Whether you’re dancing a ceilidh, hiking around Loch Lomond or just knocking up some tatties and neeps, it’s a day to enjoy all things tartan. Plus as an official holiday, you get the day off work if you’re north of the border.

To join the celebration, we visited three thriving Scottish businesses: The Good Spirits Company, Alex McDougall Mowers and Highland Wi-Fi. All three businesses have been able to go further, thanks to the fantastic support of Funding Circle investors.

In this video you’ll meet Calum, Alex & Shirley and Matthew. They talk about why they’re proud to be a Scottish business and how support from Funding Circle has helped them achieve their business goals.

Want to lend to more businesses like this?

To help even more businesses get the funds they need to grow, sign in to your account and add more funds today. Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Introducing the Funding Circle Android app

We’re pleased to announce that from today, you will be able to download the Funding Circle App to use on your Android device. The app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play store.

The Android app will allow you to keep track of your Funding Circle account while you are on the go. It will offer you fast, secure access to your portfolio, including fingerprint sign-in functionality.

In the first version of our new Android app, you will be able to check how your portfolio is performing and view your account summary. For now, if you need to add funds to your account or change your lending options, please continue to do so by using your desktop device. We’ll be adding more functionality in the future, and as always we appreciate your feedback to make the app as simple and easy to use as possible!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

Top present ideas from businesses you’ve helped

Looking for some inspiration for presents this Christmas? Below you will find seven dazzling and delicious gift ideas to wow your loved ones. These fantastic companies have all been able to succeed thanks to your lending.

Inside out toys

Are you struggling to think of something to buy the little ones? Inside out Toys sell branded children’s toys on Amazon and Ebay; providing endless hours of amusement and important learning tools.  They are a family owned company; established in 2011 by Nicki and Julian Garner. They have borrowed over £460,000 across seven loans to develop their ‘jumini’ wooden toy range and to purchase more stock.

Enjoy travel

Is your loved one obsessed with travelling? Or perhaps they just need a break away? Make sure you check out Enjoy Travel and their amazing deals. They are a fully licenced tour operator who specialise in finding you your perfect break away. Gerry and his team pride themselves on providing the most enjoyable, memorable music-filled holidays available. With thanks to your investment , Enjoy Travel has been able to create several new music festivals across Europe, including their latest ‘Celtic on the Coastas’ which has just been launched.

Wine Discovery

If you haven’t bought the perfect gift for the wine lover in your life, don’t worry! You can book a relaxing wine tasting event at their home or chosen venue from Wine Discovery Limited. Weather they are looking for an introduction to wine tasting or just want to spend time with friends this is the perfect gift. Their prices start from £25.00 per person; offering a range of different experiences. The company borrowed £6,000 in 2017 to improve their website and buy additional stock.

Bedale Beauty

Looking to push the boat out when it comes to your Christmas shopping this year? If you are on the hunt for something memorable, then check out the treatments available at Bedale Beauty in North Yorkshire. They opened in 1992 and are known locally for their high standard of treatments, product ranges and customer service. They offer the perfect range of Gift Sets; ranging from make up collections, bathing products and many more. The team borrowed £25,000 from investors to push forward with their expansion plans and change the layout of the salon.

Grasmere Chocolate Cottage

Christmas time calls for some festival indulgence- so why not celebrate in style by purchasing a chocolate box from Grasmere Chocolate Cottage Limited! Their aim is to create culinary and visual delights worthy of their iconic Lake District surroundings.  Richard and Angela Barker managed to expand their premises and staffing with a £30,000 loan. Their chocolate goodies are all handmade, so make sure to check them out!

Red Star Brewery

Instead of spending Christmas at your local, surprise your Dad by booking a unique beer tasting experience at Red Star Brewery in Merseyside. The company was formed in 2015 by two friends with the aim to produce ales using the finest hops from around the world. They have since gone on to export beers as far as Serbia and won two gold medals at the 2015 NW Siba awards. The team borrowed £10,000.00 to purchase 150 casks to keep up with their demanding customers.

What the budget means for you – Jasmine Birtles

If you were hanging on to Phillip Hammond’s every word on Monday 28th October, waiting to hear what changes he would be making for investors, you probably came away disappointed…or relieved.

Because frankly, this year’s Budget had remarkably little news for investors and savers.

In the main that was a good thing. In the run-up to the Budget analysts were widely predicting a raid of the pensions annual allowance and possibly a reduction in the ISA limits and changes to IHT exemptions. But no. Silence on all counts. It was largely a giveaway Budget with very little clawed back by the Chancellor – particularly for investors.


For the tax year 2019/20 the annual ISA allowance remains at £20,000, and pension investors can still stash away £40,000. Neither are to be reduced which is a huge relief for anyone looking to build their retirement savings. Combining the two, which many investors do in order to make the most of their tax advantages, these allowances enable most people to invest in a nest egg tax-efficiently.

Also if you are an ISA investor who holds Alternative Investment Market (AIM) shares you can breathe a sigh of relief too. Since 2013, AIM shares have been allowed in ISAs, enabling ISA investors to create portfolios that are free of inheritance tax as well as income and capital gains tax. Investors will be glad not to have lost this in the last Budget.

There is also a positive move for parents investing for their children. The annual subscription limit for Junior ISAs for 2019-20 will be uprated in line with inflation to £4,368.

Income tax

The thresholds for income tax are also being tweaked. Continuing the government’s policy of the last few years, the personal tax free allowance is edging up, as is the higher rate tax threshold. Here’s what they’ll be for 2019/20:

Personal allowance – £12,500

Basic rate (20%) – £12,500-£50,000

Higher rate (40%) – £50,000-£150,000

Additional rate (45%) – £150,000+

For those earning over £100,000, the personal allowance works a bit differently. For every £2 over £100,000 that you earn, your personal allowance will be reduced by £1. So, if you earn £125,000 or more, you’ll have no personal allowance and will have to pay income tax on all of your earnings.

Stock market investing

There was little for stock market investors in this Budget, but some of the chancellor’s ideas will have an impact.

“Investors breathed a sigh of relief as the Chancellor maintained the status quo in terms of allowances,” says Moira O’Neill from Interactive Investor. “For example, over the years, chancellors have been fond of meddling with venture capital trusts and enterprise investment schemes, which grant investors appealing tax advantages for investing in early stage companies. But no sign of more with these regimes in this Budget.”

Last year there were unexpected cuts to the dividend tax allowance, which was reduced to £2,000, but the Chancellor did not wield the axe further this time. It was hoped that he might have reversed the cut this year and it was a shame that he didn’t, but at least it wasn’t increased.

The tax advantages of shares listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), London’s junior market, were expected to be in the Chancellor’s line of fire, but also escaped.


In the ‘small print’ of the Budget announcement we heard a few bits of good news for savers.

For a start the minimum investment required to hold Premium Bonds will fall from £100 to just £25 by the end of next March, which will be welcomed by small savers and those who like to give Premium Bonds as a gift to children and grandchildren.

Also, the criteria for buying bonds as gifts for children under 16 will also be loosened going forward. The new rules say that aunts, uncles and family friends are now going to be allowed to gift bonds worth up to £50,000 per child. Currently they can only be bought by parents, grandparents and legal guardians. National Savings & Investments will release further details of these changes later.

Still on the subject of saving for children, a consultation on draft regulations for maturing Child Trust Fund accounts will be published next year, as announced in the Budget. These were launched in 2002, but were then superseded by Junior ISAs in 2011. The Budget also included news that the annual subscription limit for Child Trust Funds for 2019-20 will be uprated in line with consumer prices index to £4,368.

For more information

To find out more about the Funding Circle ISA visit

By lending to businesses your capital is at risk. The tax-free entitlement of an ISA depends on your individual circumstances and may change.

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.

Your autumn review

By lending through Funding Circle you make a huge difference to businesses throughout the UK. With your help they’re able to grow, create jobs, develop new products and support local communities. Thank you for your continued support – you’re helping drive the UK economy forward! Read on to find out more in your spring review. 

Autumn review – lending figures

Between July-Sept 2018 you and other investors helped thousands more businesses get the finance they need to thrive.

Spring review - lending figure

*In July-Sept 2018, new loans made through Funding Circle helped unlock 3,540 jobs across the UK.

July-Sept sector breakdown

The industries you have been lending to:

Industry breakdown


July-Sept 2018 regional breakdown

Your lending has been helping every region throughout the UK: 

Regional breakdown

More on your impact

For more detail on how your lending is helping businesses throughout the UK, check out our blog on how you’re helping the economy grow, or you can sign in to your account to add funds

By lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Enjoy lending!

The Funding Circle team

£1 billion lent through our Introducer team

2018 has been an incredible year at Funding Circle. A few weeks after listing on the London Stock Exchange, we’re proud to announce that our Introducer team has reached the milestone of £1 billion lent since it was formed in 2012.

To mark this occasion, we spoke to Luke Hultquist and Stuart Sterling from Halo Corporate Finance, one of the first introducers to work with us when we launched the Introducer channel.

Find out why Luke and Stuart choose to regularly introduce clients to Funding Circle in the video below. Our Head of Broker, Tom Shave, also discusses what’s coming up in 2019 and reveals the long term vision for the broker channel.

As our introducer network continues to grow across the UK, we’ll be able to help even more businesses access finance, supporting the economy and creating jobs.

Are you a commercial finance broker looking for a fast, affordable funding solution for your clients?

Get in touch with our dedicated Introducer team at or give us a call on 020 3667 2208

Helping more investors build a well-diversified portfolio

At Funding Circle, we want you to earn attractive, stable returns by lending to UK businesses. To help you achieve this, we suggest that investors diversify their portfolios by lending small amounts to lots of different businesses.

We want every investor to benefit from a well-diversified portfolio and have a positive lending experience. As part of this, we have decided to change the minimum amount you can lend to each individual business from £20 to £10.

Helping investors with smaller portfolios diversify

Our automatic tool lends no more than 0.5% of your portfolio to any individual business. This means that if one of the businesses you lend to is unable to repay their loan, only a small amount of your portfolio would be affected. Spreading your risk in this way helps you earn a more stable return.

By reducing the minimum loan part size to £10, more investors will be able to build a well-diversified portfolio. Every new investor who lends £2,000 or more will now lend to at least 200 businesses. Lending just £1,000 (the minimum initial transfer) now allows investors to lend to at least 100 businesses, which we believe provides a strong level of diversification. For example, 93% of investors who have diversified like this for at least a year are earning 4% or more.

Please note your existing loan parts will not be affected and this will only affect new loans you lend to. If you lend more than £4,000 you will see no change as our lending tool will lend more than £20 (0.5% of your portfolio) to each business. By lending to businesses, your capital is at risk.

If you have any questions on today’s news, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

Our new partnership with Just A Card


Funding Circle was born from the belief that when small businesses succeed, everyone benefits. I’m proud that we have been able to help more than 42,000 British small businesses to get finance through Funding Circle since 2010. However, we know times are tough for independent businesses across the country, which is why I am delighted to announce that we’ll be supporting the Just A Card campaign.

Just A Card is a not-for-profit campaign run by the incredible Sarah Hamilton and her amazing team of volunteers up and down the UK. For the last three years, Just A Card has been working hard to help small businesses get vital extra sales by encouraging people to make a purchase – however small – through their window stickers, pins and posters. And it’s working! Independent retailers who have joined the campaign say that just reminding shoppers of this fact – that every sale counts – is making a difference. This simple yet powerful message highlights what we need to do to ensure our high streets remain full of thriving independent businesses instead of boarded up shops.

How it started

“I had a light bulb moment three years ago” tells Sarah, who founded the campaign “I read a quote from store owners who’d just shut up shop – “if everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card’ we’d still be open”. I realised then that if we value our independent businesses, it’s not enough just to talk about them. We have to take action to support them.

I firmly believe that people cherish independent businesses and want to support them. However, sometimes they simply don’t recognise how valuable every purchase is. We’ve now got 3,000 businesses supporting our campaign with window stickers across the country. With Funding Circle’s help, we’re going to treble that number to over 10,000 by the end of the year. I’m so excited to be working with Funding Circle because they are just as passionate about supporting small businesses as we are.” 

Support independent businesses this Christmas

We’re going to be sending a window sticker pack to all the relevant small businesses in the Funding Circle community, encouraging them to support the campaign. Particularly in the run-up to Black Friday and Christmas, we want people to support their local independent shops, bookstores, cafes and businesses.

So watch out for a very special envelope landing on your doormat early next month. Display your window sticker with pride or pass it on to a local business, and do get involved with ‘Just A Card Indie Week’ November 19 – 23, by following @fundingcircleUK and @justacard on Instagram or visit for more details.

James Meekings – Funding Circle Co-founder and UK MD.