Get festival ready with our five camping essentials

Camping and festival season is fast approaching, so now is the time to ensure you have all your supplies ready to go. Our list of 5 camping essentials will help you prepare for some outdoor fun, while also supporting some unique local businesses across the country.

Essential 1. A water bottle

Camping at Glastonbury festival this year? Stay hydrated and take along a stainless steel, BPA-free water bottle from Glogg. These fantastic reusable water bottles are perfect for camping as they’re not plastic or glass and importantly, won’t harm the environment. At last year’s festival, Glastonbury needed a business to produce 200,000 stainless steel pint cups and Glogg was ready for the challenge. To fund the manufacturing process, the company borrowed £40,000 from 533 investors, helping to turn the project into a success.

Glogg manufactures stainless steel water bottles for Glastonbury festival

Helen from Glogg, manufacturers of stainless steel water bottles

Essential 2. Waterproofs

The British summer is gloriously unpredictable, so make sure to stock up on waterproof gear, such as a waterproof jacket and a pair of wellies from All Outdoor. Once you’re all kitted out you’ll be able to enjoy your camping or festival activities, whatever the weather throws at you. The All Outdoor team have over 10 years of experience and know the importance of having the right attire for the right activity. To help increase stock due to high demand, All Outdoor have borrowed finance across three loans.

Essential 3. A comfy sleeping bag

No more tired excuses! Wake up ready to embrace the day after a good night’s sleep in a cosy sleeping bag from Camping World, the one-stop-shop for all your camping needs. The company are experts in the field and stock all staple supplies — you could even add an inflatable mattress for an even better sleep. To help fund expansion, Camping World borrowed £408,340 across two Funding Circle loans.

Essential 4. Picnic set

Be the envy of the camping grounds with a colourful picnic mat from The Stripes Company. Their striped fabrics bring life to any surrounding and are perfect for hosting a tasty picnic with your friends and family. You could even top it off with a stripy deckchair, so you can sit back, relax and listen to the festivals tunes. To help increase their product range and expand internationally, The Stripes Company have borrowed more than £175,000 across three loans since 2011.

Essential 5. Find your perfect location

If you’d prefer to skip the madness of music festivals, why not head up to idyllic North Yorkshire and rent a tent at Jollydays Glamping? Quiet and peaceful, you can escape and appreciate an outdoor break while enjoying the sounds of nature. The family-run business was set up in 2008 and became an immediate success – becoming one of the early leaders in the glamping revolution. To add more accommodation units to keep up with high demand, the family team have borrowed over £145,000 across three Funding Circle loans.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?

Lend alongside over 61,000 investors and you could earn a great return whilst supporting small businesses across the UK. Sign up online today.

You can use our investor information guide to help you get started and there are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. By lending to businesses, your capital is at risk.

Looking to expand your business?

We’ve helped more than 23,000 businesses in the UK access finance for a range of finance needs, including hiring staff, opening new shops and working capital. Get your instant quote today.

Enjoy lending. The Funding Circle team

Fintech can power a prosperous future. April industry news.

Our FinTech industry can power a prosperous future

Last month, the Government hosted the first ever International Fintech Conference, bringing investors from all over the world to learn about how innovation in the UK is changing the way customers access and use financial services. Ahead of the event, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond discussed how the industry is providing consumers with better services and more choice, and lowering costs for businesses. The UK remains the best place to start and grow a FinTech firm anywhere in the world, and the Chancellor called out Funding Circle and Transferwise as two ‘hugely successful British firms’.  

Funding Circle’s Desai: use P2P for monetary stimulus

Speaking alongside the Chancellor and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, Funding Circle’s CEO Samir Desai talked about the benefits of starting a FinTech company in the UK and went on to suggest that the Bank of England could use platforms as a way of directly stimulating the real economy. Small businesses account for half of the UK’s GDP and have been responsible for a large chunk of post-financial crisis job creation. They are the engine-room of the British economy, which is why your continued support is so vital.

How FinTech is revolutionising personal banking

Innovation has completely transformed the way we manage our money. From tapping your card to buy your morning coffee, to using your smartphone to apply for business finance, we’re seeing the impact of FinTech everywhere. These products have been hugely beneficial allowing people to connect directly, democratising finance and putting control back into the hands of the customer. This article takes a look at current accounts and how we’ve begun to see companies step in to drive this exciting change.

“Your money isn’t really safe in the bank” – so this is where to put it instead

In terms of your personal investment options, there are lots of different ways to help you build a diversified, fruitful portfolio. Here, the Mirror examines various options to help you beat the interest rate slump, such as putting your money in stocks and shares or lending directly to creditworthy businesses. As with any investment, the key to managing risk is diversification. In the case of direct lending this means spreading your money across hundreds of loans. Remember, when you lend, your capital is at risk.

Peer-to-peer lending bosses split on whether to become a bank

And finally, at another industry conference, AltFi Europe, Samir outlined the reasons why Funding Circle has no plans to become a bank. He cites business’ desire to move away from banks to enjoy the fast, flexible finance that platforms are able to provide, and investor satisfaction with the attractive and stable returns they’re able to earn by lending directly. To date, your lending has helped 23,000 business owners across the country to access finance, including multi-Grand Slam and gold medal winning paralympian, Peter Norfolk. Read more about how your investment helped him hire more staff on our latest blog.

Read between the lines: What does rising inflation mean for your money?

Each month we will be bringing you a regular column from Simon Read, a personal finance expert with extensive experience in helping people make the most of their money. In his last piece, Simon looked at the changes introduced last month with the new tax year.

Inflation is rising – and is set to climb even higher by the end of the year. Official figures revealed a surprise jump in the headline rate of inflation to 2.3% in March, its highest rate for four years. And it is estimated to climb to 2.8% by the end of the year.

Why is it rising and why should you be worried about it? Inflation is measured by comparing the price of a basket of goods. They represent typical purchases by British people and the way the basket itself changes is interesting. For instance, this year has seen the introduction of gin and cycle helmets to the basket to reflect changing spending habits. Meanwhile menthol cigarettes and fees for stopped cheques have been dropped. As an aside, VHS video tapes were only scrapped from the inflation basket 10 years ago, although it seems like a lifetime since anyone bought them!

The inflation figure tries to reflect the real-life spending patterns and rising – or falling – costs. And rising inflation means it’s getting more expensive to live. It’s been ever thus. However higher inflation is hopefully offset by higher wages, meaning your money should go as far as ever.

But there’s one area where inflation is hitting hard right now – our savings. If you can’t get a savings return higher than inflation, you’re losing money. The cash in your nest egg will be worth less and less as inflation outstrips the returns you get. And right now, no-one can get an inflation-beating rate from traditional banks and building societies with even the much-heralded new Government-backed savings bond paying less than inflation at 2.2%.

So if you don’t want your savings to shrink, you need to do something about it. That means finding better returns. But you can only get better returns by exposing your hard-earned cash to greater risks/Does rising inflation strengthen the argument for investing in peer-to-peer platforms? Of course it does. But it also strengthens the argument for investing in stock markets, where you may be able to get even better returns. For instance, the FTSE-100 climbed from a level of 6200 a year ago to around 7200 now. That’s a rise of 16%. If you’d invested in the right funds 12 months ago, you’d be sitting on returns that far outstrip inflation.

But the key to stock market investing is timing. Get it wrong, and you could face huge losses. For instance if you’d whacked your savings into the market on 20 March, you would have got in when the FTSE stood at 7430. That was the day that the current Prime Minister sent markets spinning by revealing she would be triggering Article 50 just over a week later. If you’d have hung on until 20 April and then sold in panic you would have got out when the FTSE stood at 7118. That would have meant a loss of more than 4% in just a month – not so attractive, is it!

The point is this: while inflation is a worry to savers, the fear of losing your nest egg is greater. It’s not sensible to switch all your savings out of low-paying bank and building society accounts into high-risk shares. The key is to find a balance. Keep your rainy day savings, your emergency money, to hand in a deposit account. Consider peer to peer platforms for your nest egg, cash you may not need for a while. And if you have money you can afford to risk, that you won’t need for at least five years, look at stock market-linked options, such as equity income funds.

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 advisor or seek independent specialist advice

Sharing the voice of British small businesses

We wanted to make the views of British businesses heard, so we asked thousands of you for your thoughts on the year ahead. In the space of four days, more than 2,300 of you told us about your investment intentions, turnover expectations and also your position on the upcoming general election.

What we discovered is that small businesses are going for growth, unfazed by the uncertainty caused by last year’s referendum result and the snap election. Nearly 70% of UK small businesses expect their turnover to increase within the next 12 months – half of whom expect a steady increase of between 6 and 20%, and only 6% expect turnover to decrease.

Small businesses, who already account for 60% of private sector employment, will continue to drive much needed job creation this year. More than half of the businesses we spoke to are planning to hire at least one new full-time member of staff over the next year. With more than 5 million small businesses across the country – this could mean the creation of millions of new jobs in the next 12 months!

Ahead of the election, small business owners told us that they’re three times more likely to vote for the Conservative Party over the Labour Party. In total, 41% said that they plan on voting Conservative, whilst 13% said Labour and 9% said they intended to vote for the Liberal Democrats.

Support for the Conservatives comes despite 49% saying they voted Remain in last year’s EU referendum, demonstrating a level of confidence in the party to deliver Brexit regardless of how business owners voted in the referendum.

When asked what their one policy priority is in the run up to the election, tax was by far the most important issue. With business rates mentioned specifically nearly 300 times, 40% said that they want the new Government to focus on this area after the election. The second most important policy area, according to a quarter of businesses, was of course Brexit.

Investors at Funding Circle include 60,000 individuals, local and national government, the European Investment Bank and financial institutions such as pension funds. By opening up small business lending to a wide range of investors, Funding Circle has improved competition in the market, supported job creation and reduced small business dependency on bank lending.

To date investors have lent £2.2 billion to more than 23,000 UK small businesses. Businesses funded through the platform typically access the capital they need in seven days, and independent research found that 94% of businesses would come back to Funding Circle first in future.

 

If you’re a small business looking for finance, visit our website to check if you qualify in just 30 seconds.

Take 10: 3 simple ways to manage an overwhelming workload

Quick and simple ways to boost your business in just 10 minutes

There’s never enough hours in the day, especially for small business owners. So, for the latest in our Take 10 series, we’re looking at 3 simple ways to help you stay on top of that never ending to do list.

busy workload

Managing your workload effectively can help keep you happy and healthy

Managing your time effectively helps you control of your day-to-day workload and keep a clear view of longer-time projects. In turn that can help you achieve your career goals more quickly and avoid stress.

Although a bit of stress is normal and can even be channelled into positive energy, being highly stressed over a longer period of time can be problematic. It can affect your sleep or even cause more serious illnesses, so controlling your workflow for a peaceful mindset is really important.

1) Is the task urgent, important or both?

When we’re busy rushing around it’s easy to prioritise those quick, urgent items to simply tick them off your to do list. It’s always tempting to reply to an email as soon as it pops into your inbox.

However, it’s important to understand the time constraints of the task in hand and whether it will have a high impact. The below Importance vs Urgency matrix can help you prioritise competing tasks:

Important vs urgent

For example, depending on your role, emailing a supplier about a change in your team might be important but not time sensitive. Whereas organising a looming invoice payment might be urgent and important.

2) Categorise tasks with the 4D’s

When looking through your inbox, try categorising tasks into the 4D’s: Delete, Delegate, Defer or Do.

Set yourself free from an exploding inbox and delete it

Consider whether the email requires your attention or is worth your time. If it’s not, keep your inbox uncluttered and delete it. This will help you focus on prioritising important items. And there’s always the deleted items folder if you realise you need it back!

Learn to delegate

You might be responsible for the task, but think whether it’s important or necessary for you to do it. Experts in your business might actually be better at performing the task. Just remember to ensure you put in time to check the item has been done by the person you’ve delegated it to.

If you don’t need to do it straight away, defer it

Think about whether the task is important or time sensitive, and whether you can afford to defer it. It might be an item that you’d like to do, but doesn’t need to be done for a hard deadline like a meeting or print deadline. Deferred tasks can sometimes become obsolete as goals move, meaning you also save yourself some time.

Just do it

If it’s a task that’s important to you and you have time to do it, get it done. Achieving these tasks, especially if business critical, can help you bookend your day or week and stay in control.

3) Prioritise using the MoSCoW matrix

If you’re managing a project and have a clear set of requirements, the MoSCoW matrix can help you rank tasks and deliver the most important items.

MoSCoW

Must: Any items that must be achieved to complete a successful project

Should: The project success doesn’t rely on this item, but if possible within your time and resource constraints you should include

Could: Items you could have as long as they don’t impact on other items to ensure you deliver a successful overall project

Would: If you had unlimited time and resource you would include this item. It might be included in future edition, but won’t be delivered within the current project scope

We hope you found this post useful. In the next instalment of Take 10, we’ll be looking at how to motivate your direct reports.

The Funding Circle team

Your April Impact – Lending Impact and Borrower Stories

April's investor impact

You told us that monthly and weekly updates were a little too much, so to better suit your needs we’re improving the way we talk to you on a monthly basis.

In your first Investor Impact, we’re looking at some of the success stories from recent borrowers and how your lending has helped them achieve their goals.

Did you know?

This month we hit more than 60,000 investors, big and small, lending to businesses through Funding Circle. Together your lending is having a real impact on the UK economy. Already in 2017 you’ve helped more than 5,000 businesses access much needed finance to grow and prosper. We’re going to need a pretty big venue to host everyone for our next event!

60000 people

A great month for

Firstnet create 100 new jobs in Leeds

Award winning IT services provider Firstnet Solutions Ltd was founded in 2011 to provide small businesses with the best possible IT infrastructure. Based in Leeds, husband and wife team David and Angie Cusworth are passionate about helping small businesses benefit from the same IT solutions as larger companies, but for a price that suits their needs.

Firstnet solutions

Last month, Firstnet Solutions Ltd opened a new purpose-built data centre in Yorkshire. David told us ‘we envisage that this data centre will create more than 100 new jobs, providing an important source of local employment.’

To facilitate the launch of their new data centre, Firstnet Solutions Ltd borrowed £74,480 in October 2016. David added: ‘Accessing finance through Funding Circle has helped our business achieve this success and we will look to work together more as we grow.’ Congratulations to David and the team!

We’ll be visiting David and the team soon to film a case study video – stay tuned.

April's success story

Paralympian goes for gold with a Funding Circle loan

Husband-and-wife team Peter and Linda Norfolk are well-experienced in achieving excellence. Nicknamed ‘The Quadfather’, Peter Norfolk OBE is a double paralympic gold medal and multiple Grand Slam winning wheelchair-tennis player, while Linda was Head of Physio for the Paralympic GB team at the Athens Games.

Not content with just winning medals, together they also own and run Equipment for the Physically Challenged (EPC), specialising in providing high-performance wheelchairs and powerchairs.

To hire two new members of staff, Equipment for the Physically Challenged (EPC) borrowed £30,000 in 2016. Meet this inspiring couple and hear more about their story in this short video.

5 fun ideas

The glorious summer weather is fast approaching and with more bank holidays coming up in May, it’s the perfect time to start planning. We’ve put together a list of five great ideas, from picnics to watersports and weekend getaways, to help you get outdoors and support businesses that have flourished thanks to your lending.

Up next

At the beginning of May, we’ll be publishing ‘Your May Review – Insight and Analysis’ which will focus on what’s been happening on the marketplace to help you get the most from your investment.

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

Enjoy lending, the Funding Circle team

Paralympian goes for gold with a Funding Circle loan

Peter and Linda Norfolk are no strangers to success

The husband-and-wife team are well-experienced in achieving excellence. Nicknamed ‘The Quadfather’, Peter Norfolk OBE is a double paralympic gold medal and multiple Grand Slam winning wheelchair-tennis player, while Linda was Head of Physio for the Paralympic GB team at the Athens Games.

Not content with just winning medals, together they also own and run Equipment for the Physically Challenged (EPC), specialising in providing high-performance wheelchairs and powerchairs. Founded in 1989, EPC imports specialist equipment from all over the world, providing their clients with a personalised service to ensure they get the chair best suited to their need. Their focus is to give customers more freedom, creating innovative chairs that are easier to dismantle, transport, and fit a wider range of uses.

To hire two new members of staff, upgrade their website and purchase new computer equipment, Peter and Linda borrowed £30,000 through Funding Circle in December 2016.

In this short video, meet this inspiring couple and hear more about their story.

 

 

Are you interested in lending to businesses like EPC-Wheelchairs?

Lend alongside 60,000 investors and support small businesses across the UK by signing up online today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started and there are 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.

Looking to expand your business?

More than 22,000 businesses in the UK have accessed finance from Funding Circle, helping with cash flow, refurbishment, hiring staff and much more. You can check if you qualify for a business loan online in just 30 seconds.

Five fun ideas for a delightful bank holiday

The glorious summer weather is fast approaching and with more bank holidays coming up in May, it’s the perfect time to start planning weekend activities. We’ve got five great ideas that will help you get outdoors and make the most of the weather, while supporting businesses across the country that have flourished thanks to your lending.

1. Plan the perfect picnic

If your idea of the perfect weekend includes indulging on delicious food and drinks, while enjoying the company of friends and family, why not plan a picnic? Stock up on award-winning relishes, along with olives, toasted bread and a range of cheeses, from Deli Flavour, the one-stop-shop for all your snack needs. Voted one of the 50 best deli’s in the UK, the company was able to open another shop after borrowing £25,000 from 275 investors in November 2013.

2. Test your skills at watersports

Based in beautiful Brighton and Hove, Lagoon Watersports are experts in their field and offer a range of trainings in activities such as yacht sailing, paddle boarding and windsurfing. The friendly team teach sessions for all ages and aim to get people confident and comfortable in the water. Lagoon Watersports were able to purchase a new powerboat engine for powerboat rides after borrowing over £100,000 across three Funding Circle loans since 2012.

 3. Embark on a weekend getaway

With great views of the Irish Sea, St. Kilda Hotel is nestled in the middle of Llandudno’s beautiful promenade, with easy access to all the town has to offer. This family-run business is sure to give you a warm and friendly welcome during your stay. St. Kilda Hotel used their Funding Circle loan to cover maintenance and refurbishment costs, borrowing £30,620 from 322 investors in December 2015.

4. Get busy in the garden

Dust off your gardening boots this long weekend and start to get your garden ready for the summer. Based in Meols, a village on the northern coast of England, Carr Farm Garden Centre has been running since the 1930’s and since then has grown to be a successful garden centre – they also have online shop so you can order no matter where you’re based. To help with maintenance works across their 7 acre site, the family-run farm shop borrowed over £100,000 from 1,631 investors.

5. Get active outdoors

And finally, if you’re a thrill seeker, or just love outdoor sports, Pure Outdoor have some adrenaline-pumping activity ideas. Located in the heart of the Peak District National Park, the experienced team provide courses and activities such as rock climbing, caving and mountain guiding – a fun and exciting way to spend your bank holiday! The adventurous company were able to purchase a new office for their business after borrowing £8,000 through Funding Circle.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?

Lend alongside over 60,000 investors and you could earn a great return whilst supporting small businesses across the UK. Sign up online today.

You can use our investor information guide to help you get started and there are 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.

Looking to expand your business?

We’ve helped nearly 23,000 businesses in the UK access finance for a range of finance needs, including hiring staff, opening new shops and working capital. Get your instant quote today.

Enjoy lending. The Funding Circle team

Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

A quiet crash in bank lending? March industry news

A quiet crash in big bank lending?

Bank of England statistics reveal that since the EU referendum, net lending (that’s total lending minus repayments) to British small businesses by 22 of the largest banks dropped from £1 billion in the second quarter of 2016, down to just £220 million in the last three months of the year. Meanwhile, Funding Circle investors lent £167 million on a net basis in Q4 alone! This is a great demonstration of the huge value your lending is having on the UK economy.

Bank said no, but I didn’t lose my sense of hummus

Helen Smith, founder of Glogg and one of Funding Circle’s many great borrowers, shares her company’s success story and experience of using direct lending for growth finance in The Times. When Glastonbury needed a business to produce 200,000 stainless steel pint cups for last year’s festival, Glogg stepped up to the challenge. Turning to Funding Circle for support, Helen was able to secure funding from hundreds of investors and the project was a huge success. Read the full story on our blog.

They came, they saw, they disrupted

It was also great to see Samir Desai, Funding Circle CEO, featured in the The Sunday Times Maserati 100 list, which recognises influential entrepreneurs who are disrupting the business world. In it’s third year, the award took a new approach and focused on celebrating the beneficial impact that these individuals are having on the economy. This type of recognition is only possible because of the continued support we receive from our customers on both sides of the platform so thank you!

The best places to put your cash if you want to beat inflation

With inflation on the rise, an article in This is Money explores a few tricks to help make your spare cash work harder. By considering these options, such as direct lending or investing in stocks and shares, you don’t have to leave your money in a cash Isa that loses value over time. Read more about direct lending and how you could earn stable, attractive returns by lending to small businesses – but remember, when you lend, your capital it at risk.

Read between the lines: New tax year, new tax planning

Speaking of financial planning, personal finance expert and former editor at The Independent Simon Read, gives his advice on how to approach financial decisions in our new blog series ‘Read between the lines’. When planning for the new tax year, Simon encourages investors to be proactive and start the process as early in the year as possible so that there’s plenty of time to take any potential changes into account. To learn about what the recent Spring Budget means for you, check out this video on our blog.

Funding Circle secures $100M investment from CIM

And finally, our US business announced that Community Investment Management, an impact investment firm focused on direct lending, is now lending an additional $100 million to American small businesses. This exciting agreement gives even more businesses the opportunity to access the finance they need, which in turn encourages job creation and economic growth in local communities across the United States.

Property development lending – important update

Funding Circle’s long term goal is to become the first choice for small businesses here in the UK and across the world. By attracting thousands more businesses to the platform, we can offer you many more lending opportunities, allowing you to continue to earn an attractive, stable return. To meet this goal, we have taken the decision to focus on our core small business lending product in the UK and our other markets and will scale down new property development lending, expecting to stop all lending by mid-2018.

We are proud of the lending we have facilitated to small developers since 2014. The borrowers you have lent to have built thousands of homes and credit performance has been strong; loans have generated a 7% annual return* (as of 10th April 2017) and you have earned more than £22m in interest.

By focusing on our core product you will be able to help thousands more small businesses to access finance and grow. Over the last year you have lent record-breaking amounts, with approximately £280m lent to small business borrowers in the first three months of 2017. We expect this trend to continue.

It’s important to note that this decision is not related to credit performance of property development loans, which have outperformed expectations over the last three years and we expect this to remain the case.

We will continue to work on your behalf to service all existing property development loans. There will still be opportunities for you to lend to experienced property professionals over the next 12 months.

If you have any questions on today’s news, please get in touch at contactus@fundingcircle.com.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

*Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. Returns shown may change over time as some businesses may not be able to fully repay their loans.

Read between the lines: New tax year, new tax planning

Over the next few months we will be bringing you a regular column from Simon Read, a personal finance expert with extensive experience in helping people make the most of their money. Last time we caught up with Simon to get his reaction to the recent Spring Budget. In this column, Simon looks at what changes the upcoming tax year may bring for you.

The new tax year begins on 6 April. There’s usually a lot of noise before that date for people to make the most of their existing year’s tax allowances, or lose them forever. That’s sound advice but making any financial decision in haste can lead to expensive mistakes. That’s why I encourage everyone to do their tax planning at the beginning of the financial year, so there’s plenty of time to take account of what may be a changing situation.

What’s different about the 2017/18 tax year? It’s mainly a question of changing limits – the deadline to act will be exactly the same as it has been in previous years, 5 April. For savers the most notable change is the increase in the tax-free ISA allowance to £20,000, up from £15,240. That’s a massive jump but, to my mind, the biggest advantage is that the new figure is a nice round number and easier to remember!

The 6th April also sees the introduction of the new Lifetime ISA, aimed at first-time homebuyers and people saving for their pension. You need to be under 40 to open one and the big attraction is that the government has promised to top up your savings by 25%. However there are several restrictions and a limit of £4,000 each year. So, while it’s worthwhile for hopeful homebuyers to take advantage or even switch an existing Help to Buy ISA to a Lifetime ISA, anyone looking to save for their retirement is likely to be better off sticking to a company pension scheme, if they have one.

There’s also the Innovative Finance ISA which allows you to shelter your investments through peer-to-peer platforms in a tax-free account. The established platforms are yet to launch their ISA products, so this is something to look out for.

Meanwhile the Personal Savings Allowance introduced in April 2016 continues and means you can earn £1,000 of interest and pay no tax on it if you’re a basic-rate taxpayer, and £500 of interest if you’re a higher-rate taxpayer.

The amount of tax the authorities will demand from you is likely to fall in 2017/18 as the personal allowance is climbing from £11,000 to £11,500. That means an extra £100 for basic rate taxpayers.

The higher rate threshold, the point at which you start paying tax at 40%, is effectively climbing from £43,000 to £45,000, giving anyone earning about that level a £300 boost. That’s unless you live in Scotland where the threshold has been frozen at £43,000.

I haven’t yet mentioned pensions, salary sacrifice, company car tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, or several other areas where the tax situation has changed or may require your action. The point is this: you now have 12 months to get your head around your tax situation and act to make the most of it.


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 advisor or seek independent specialist advice.

Spring-clean your Funding Circle account

Last week marked the start of Spring—the clocks went forward, the days get longer and with a bit of luck, the weather gets warmer!

For many people, spring represents the time to have a good clean out in their homes, but it is a good opportunity to get your financial house in order as well. Your Funding Circle account is no exception, so here are four tips to help you get the most out of your investment.

1. Give yourself the best chance of earning a stable return

Our data shows that investors who diversify by lending small amounts to many businesses are more likely to earn a stable return. From time-to-time some of the businesses you lend to won’t be able to repay their loans, so lending small amounts minimises the effect this could have on your return. We recommend that you lend to at least 100 businesses, with no more than 1% of your portfolio lent to each one.

Every investor who has followed these two steps for at least a year has earned a positive return. In addition, 91% of these investors are earning at least 5% annually after fees and bad debts. More information on the benefits of diversification can be found on our statistics page. You can see the maximum percentage you have lent to any one business in the My Loan Parts section of your Summary page.

2. Make sure your funds are working hard

You can earn great returns by directly lending to businesses through Funding Circle, but your money earns nothing if it is sat idle. Each month you will receive either a principal and interest payment (the amount you lent plus the interest earned), or an interest-only payment from the businesses you lend to. Ensuring these repayments are lent out to new borrowers can maximise your earning potential.

Doing this regularly can be time consuming, however our Autobid tool will automatically lend your repayments out to new borrowers, leaving you to get on with your day!

3. Check your Autobid settings

It’s good practice to review your Autobid settings regularly to ensure they still meet your lending criteria. While logged in, the Autobid page will allow you to turn the tool on or off and manage your diversification options. The Advanced Settings will also allow you to choose which risk bands to lend to and set the gross interest rates for buying loan parts from other investors. Remember, diversification across both risk bands and businesses can help you earn a stable return.

4. Grow your portfolio for the long-term

Setting up a standing order can be done quickly and allows you to set aside a little each month towards your financial future. Making even a modest regular contribution can have a considerable long-term effect on your Funding Circle account. For example, if an investor with £10,000 in their Funding Circle account was to set up a standing for £100 a month, after 30 years they could have an account worth nearly £200,000.*

Remember, past performance is not a guarantee of future performance, and by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

We hope you have found this useful, and if you have any questions about your account please get in touch.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

*Returns are at our estimated annualised return of 6.9%** (as of 6th March 2017), are compounded monthly, and are after fees and bad debt but before tax. Based on this, an account worth £10,000 with a standing order of £100 a month would be worth £199,084.63. Returns are calculated using a compound interest calculator.  

**This estimated return is a weighted estimate of the annual return after fees and bad debts that investors could earn from lending money to businesses seeking loans as of 6th March 2017. It is calculated by taking the gross interest rate less fees and estimated bad debts that will occur in the future for each of the last 3000 loans accepted on the marketplace. The average return is weighted by loan amount, compounded and before tax. The return is updated daily. See the full calculation here.

Seven sweet treats to make your Easter complete

Join us on an Easter egg hunt this year to find the tastiest treats from seven small businesses across the UK that have flourished thanks to your lending. Whether you’re a fruity chocolate lover, a fudge fanatic or crave something nutty, our selection below will have something to suit all taste buds.

1. Rich and nutty treats from West Wales

Our hunt begins in a sweet shop in West Wales, a place nutty chocolate fans will love. In 2013, Nom Nom Chocolates took over an abandoned chocolate factory and has since grown to become Wales’ leading luxury chocolate manufacturer. On our hunt we found an array of delicious flavours, such as peanut butter and roasted hazelnut – yum! The sweets company purchased new machinery using their Funding Circle loan.

2. Make your own in East Wales

Next stop is Black Mountain Gold Chocolates just down the road in East Wales, where you can make your very own Easter sweets. The company owners are chocolate extraordinaires and teach chocolate making and tasting workshops. From ‘one to one’ sessions to master chocolatier courses, there are classes to suit all age groups and abilities. Black Mountain Gold were able to increase production after borrowing £15,480 from over 200 investors in July 2014.

3. Milk chocolate from Lancashire

From Wales we’re heading to Lancashire in search of milk chocolate bunnies. Beech’s Fine Chocolates create the tastiest Milk Chocolate Bunny Family, which is the perfect treat to share with the entire household over the holiday. The company, who have been producing quality treats since the 1920’s, have also featured in the BBC programme ‘Who’s the Boss.’ Beech’s Fine Chocolates were able to keep up with the high demand after borrowing £250,000 in January 2016.

4. Fruity flavours from Leeds

The next stop on our hunt is one for the fruity chocolate enthusiasts. Lauden Chocolate, based in Leeds, is run by a passionate husband and wife team who produce unique and delicious chocolates that look just as good as they taste. Flavours include mediterranean orange, sour cherry, passionfruit, and lychee & rose. The duo were able to launch new and innovative chocolate bars after borrowing over £41,000 through Funding Circle.

5. A treat for the little ones in York

From Leeds we’re heading to York to find the perfect treat for the little ones. With a choice of milk or white chocolate, these handmade chocolate Rabbit Lollies from Choc affair are a great choice for kids. Choc affair also supply a range of flavoured chocolate bars such as our favourite, Raspberry & Rose. The confectionery company were able to move to a larger premises after borrowing from Funding Circle investors in 2013.

6. Dairy-free Easter eggs from Reading

The next destination on our hunt is a sweet shop in Reading, where you can find award-winning dairy free chocolate. Moo Free, a leading manufacturer of dairy free and gluten free chocolates, produce the ultimate Easter eggs that are a must try this year. The company, which sells its products in Tesco and Ocado, were able to hire more staff after borrowing through Funding Circle back in 2013.

7. Fudge from Suffolk

And finally, if you’re more of a fudge fanatic, then our last stop is for you. Yum Yum Tree Fudge, based in Suffolk, is run by a dedicated family of fudge makers who strive to make the best fudge in the UK – they were even featured on the BBC Good Food Show! The skilled team produce a scrumptious collection of flavours such as mango, sea-salted caramel and mint chocolate chip. Yum Yum Tree Fudge were able to improve their facilities after borrowing over £128,000 in January 2017.

Are you interested in lending to businesses like these?

Lend alongside over 59,000 investors and you could earn a great return whilst supporting small businesses across the UK. Sign up online today.

You can use our investor information guide to help you get started and there are 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.

Looking to expand your business?

We’ve helped more than 22,000 businesses in the UK access finance for a range of finance needs, including hiring staff, opening new shops and working capital. Get your instant quote today.

Enjoy lending. The Funding Circle team

Remember, by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Six ways to celebrate the Six Nations

As the final day of the Six Nations approaches – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ for its back-to-back three match extravaganza – we thought we’d take the opportunity to celebrate 6 unique small businesses that represent each of the countries competing in the tournament.

Scotland v Italy

There’s two areas in which the Scots are infallible; their passion, and their whiskey. The aptly named The Good Spirits Co. in Glasgow was set up by three drinks enthusiasts – including a co-founder of the Glasgow Whisky Festival! They offer a huge range of the best spirits from every corner of the earth, as well as holding tastings and offering their very own octave of whisky called Cask 23.

Pizza hails from Naples but The Real Pizza Company have brought authentic pizzas to Crawley. They are cooked at 400 degrees and can be cooked in bulk on match day to feed the crowd! Their immense flavour will be enough to cheer up any Italian supporter!

France v Wales

French Flavour work closely with artisan producers from both France and the UK to bring the finest wines, cheeses, chocolates and much more – straight to your door! Why not treat yourself to one of their cheese and wine subscription boxes and receive a different selection of hand-picked wines chosen to complement top quality cheeses – every month!

A lesser known fact about the country with the lowest population in the tournament, is that Wales is believed to have more castles per square-mile than any other country in the world! So naturally, we picked out Castle Hotel Aberaeron as our Welsh business of choice. The luxury hotel is situated within a Grade II listed building in the Georgian harbour town of Aberaeron – conveniently located minutes from the seaside. If you find yourself on the west coast of Wales – pop in for some food or a drink… you can’t miss it’s fluorescent pink exterior!

Ireland v England

There’s nothing quite so English as a good portion of fish and chips. London-based Poppie’s Fish and Chips have been going at it since the ‘50s, using only the best and most responsibly sourced fish in their dishes – they combine the perfect blend of taste and nostalgia to create the ultimate chip shop experience. Next time you’re in Soho, Spitalfields or Camden – be sure to pay them a visit!

Now we head to Lisnaskea – a small town in County Fermanagh – to bask in the highest quality, locally sourced baked goods in Northern Ireland. Cherrytree Home Bakery have been baking traditional breads, cakes, scones and more since 1970 – using only the best available produce. Owners Isobel and Norman encourage cake enthusiasts to ‘Come to Lisnaskea and follow the smell of good quality, fresh home banking!

We hope you enjoy the matches this weekend. Whatever your interests – there’s a Funding Circle borrower for you!
If you’re interested in lending to small businesses like these, you could earn 7.1% per year by getting started today. You can use our investor information guide to help you get started and there are thousands of loans which you can be a part of, making it quick and easy to build a diversified portfolio. Remember, your actual return may be higher or lower as by lending to businesses your capital is at risk.

Read between the lines: What does the Budget mean for you?

Over the next few months we will be bringing you a regular column from Simon Read, a personal finance expert with extensive experience in helping people make the most of their money. Simon has written extensively on personal finance issues for a number of national UK newspapers. Previously he was personal finance editor at The Independent, and is currently an expert on BBC1’s Right on the Money show.

Each month Simon will cut through the jargon to help you understand what is happening in the wider financial world. This month, we caught up with him to get his reaction to last week’s Spring Budget and what it means for you.

 

We’ll be hearing regularly from Simon over the next few months, so watch this space!

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

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 advisor or seek independent specialist advice

Improving the way we talk to you

You told us that monthly and weekly updates were a little too much, so to better suit your needs we’ll now be updating you fortnightly with more in-depth information.

In-depth updates, every two weeks

Up first, we’re replacing your current Weekly Lending Review with two monthly blogs, which will still contain all the information you like to read, from the amount lent to businesses each month, how to make the most of your investment, and any recent defaults. However, we’re giving it all a spring clean and adding some new features.

Each month your new round-up will be split into two:

  • Your investment update will focus on the Funding Circle marketplace, from businesses you could lend to, to how much was lent last month, some new statistics and information from our experts.
  • Your lending impact will showcase success stories from recent borrowers, how your lending has helped them achieve their goals, insight into how things work at Funding Circle, and an opportunity to hear from other investors.

These refreshed blogs will be launching later this month.

Coming soon

Quick on the heels of the blog update, you’ll soon notice a refreshed look for your newsletters. Mirroring your new marketplace round-up blogs, the newsletters will be split into two:

  • An update on your investment and a round-up of what’s going on at Funding Circle at the beginning of each month.
  • What impact your lending is having on the UK economy mid-month, and showcase some of the extraordinary business owners you’re helping.

There’s lots of other improvements still to come, but for now we hope you like the new look and feel of our communications.

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