Showing posts with label Peer to Peer Lending. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peer to Peer Lending. Show all posts

Saturday 19 December 2015

RateSetter Peer-to-Peer Lending – It can no longer be called an experiment

RateSetter logoI first dipped my toe into the Peer-to-Peer lending arena back in May 2014.  Research at that time suggested for me there were two viable alternatives – Zopa and RateSetter.  I went with RateSetter and duly deposited £10,000.

Since that first investment I've gradually continued to invest and as of today have a not insignificant £43,769 or 5% of my total wealth invested in RateSetter.  With this amount invested I can no longer say I'm experimenting.  My market of choice is the 3 Year Income market however recently I've started to move some new/repayment money into the 1 Year market and as a home purchase gets even closer I’ll start moving into the Monthly market.  My lending has so far achieved an annualised 4.5%.  A result I'm ok with.

Peer-to-peer lending has a very different risk profile to that of a vanilla savings account and given this is money I have planned for an eventual home purchase I'm sensitive to these risks.  For starters you are not eligible for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which protects the first £85,000 (£75,000 from 01 January 2016) of savings so your capital is at risk.  RateSetter does offer some protection in the form of a Provision Fund which reimburses lenders (ie us) if a borrowers payment is missed.  I like to keep an eye on defaults and this fund.  When I first started investing the Provision Fund was £6,328,472 which was set against £179,536,557 of loans.  So by value 3.5% of payments would have had to be reneged on before I potentially started to see losses.

Today the Provision Fund has grown to £16,543,201 against loans of £510,819,525 so protection has been diminished to defaults of 3.2% by value.  So far in 2015 the actual default rate has been 0.55% so the Provision Fund is more than covering what’s happening this year.

Of course this year is not a year like 2008 and unfortunately RateSetter was not in business at that time so I can’t check the default rates to compare against the Provision Fund.  Zopa was however in business and they currently have a 2015 actual default rate of 0.13% and back in 2008 saw actual defaults of 4.67%.  So in 2015 it looks like RateSetter’s loan book is riskier than Zopa’s and the Zopa default rate would have more than depleted the RateSetter Provision Fund.  I’ll also make a hypothesis that if/when we have another ‘Global Financial Crisis’ (or equivalent) RateSetter will see actual defaults higher than Zopa.  This is not surprising given a quick check this morning shows Zopa 3 year loans at 3.8% while RateSetter 3 year loans are at 4.8%.  Risk vs Reward and all that.

Thursday 8 October 2015

The Lending Works Experiment (2 Months On)

It’s been 2 months since I started the Lending Works experiment.  As a recap Lending Works are a peer-to-peer lending platform and at the time I published my original post I had opened an account, deposited £300 and was in the queue to get into the lending market.  I also promised to update you in 2 months so time for an update on what’s happened since then?

Firstly, I'm now successfully in the Lending Works lending market.  At the time of my last post I had £78,430 queued ahead of my £300 and indications were that it would take 8 days to get my money into the market.  With P2P lending it’s of crucial that you minimise time out of the market as until your money is actually lent you’re earning no interest.  As it turns out I didn't have to wait 8 days with money starting to be lent after 5 days and fully lent after 6.

When I signed up £12 million had been lent into the market and the reserve fund was £211,470 meaning 1.7% of loans by value would have had to be missed or fall into arrears before I started taking a loss.  Today lending is now £14.7 million with a reserve fund of £252,031 meaning that protection is stable at 1.7%.

Saturday 8 August 2015

The Lending Works Experiment

A little over a year ago I cried enough of the derisory instant savings account interest rates that were being offered by the banking sector, which after inflation and taxes, meant the value of my wealth was going backwards.  A quick trip over to Money Saving Expert reveals that the problem still exists.   The market-leading rate if you want instant access to your money is 1.6% meaning a higher rate tax punter, after inflation of 1.0%, is going backwards by 0.04% annually.  Additionally, this rate then reverts to 1.1% after a year meaning you have to do the savings account dance all again.  Even the best 3-year fixed rate account is only offering 2.65% meaning after inflation of 1.0% and higher rate tax our punter would only be getting ahead by 0.59%.  The chart below shows it’s been like this for a long time now and with no sign of an up-turn.

Average UK Savings Account Interest Rates
Click to enlarge, Average UK Savings Account Interest Rates

Meanwhile, while this has all been occurring I’ve been quietly shifting/building wealth with peer to peer (P2P) lending (while of course acknowledging that P2P has a different risk profile to bank savings accounts) as an alternative to a bank savings account.  Today I have as much money invested in P2P, £43,000, as I do in savings accounts.  Since starting out in May 2014 I’ve earned interest/bonuses of £1,342 which after taking into account deposits/transfers occurring over time is an annualised 4.3%.

Given my successes so far with P2P my interest was piqued this week when I was contacted by Lending Works enquiring whether there was any opportunity for us to work together.  At the time I wasn't using Lending Works as a P2P platform but I was aware of them as I know weenie over at Quietly Saving has money in their platform.  A few emails later we had agreed that rather than something like a boring advertisement that would add little value to readers I would instead run a published experiment with real money lent into the market.

Saturday 6 June 2015

My Investment Portfolio Warts and All

Two events have occurred in the past week that prompt this post:
  1. My Defined Contribution Company Pension transfer to a Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP has now completed.  The timings ended up being that I sent all the paperwork to Hargreaves Lansdown on the 09 May ’15, received a confirmation letter that it was in progress on the 13 May, the cash landed in my new Hargreaves Lansdown SIPP on the 29 May, I bought all my new low expense investment products (which made this post a little redundant) on the 01 June and the £500 cash back offer landed in my account on the 05 June.  So all in about a month for it all to wash through.  Total Investment Portfolio expenses including SIPP wrapper charges now run to 0.28% per annum.
  2. I received a Facebook message from a reader asking if I could do a post with “a really detailed breakdown of my portfolio starting with a rough pie chart with just equities, bond, gold, alternative investments, property etc and then a more detailed breakdown again perhaps an exploded pie chart of the main parts. For example share category American, European shares etc.”  When I read the message I realised that while I've talked ad infinitum about my portfolio over the years I've never given such a detailed breakdown including investment product percentages.
So without further ado here’s my investment portfolio warts and all.

The investment strategy (some might call it an Investment Policy Statement) on which my portfolio is based has now been in place almost since the beginning of my journey.  I first documented it in 2009 but I would suggest reading my 2012 strategy summary (as it included the addition of my High Yield Portfolio (HYP) for a portion of my UK Equities) in parallel to today’s post.  The strategy post will give you the “Why” behind my thinking while today’s post will give you the “What”.  It’s also important to note that nothing I do is original or clever.  It’s predominantly based on work by Tim Hale which is a book that I believe every UK investor should read with tweaks coming from the reading of the following books.

The Top Level Investment Portfolio

My Actual Low Charge Investment Portfolio
Click to enlarge, My Actual Low Charge Investment Portfolio

At a top level the portfolio contains local and International Equities, Commodities, Property, Bonds and Cash.

Sunday 25 January 2015

The RateSetter Experiment (6 month update)

My low charge investment portfolio today holds 7.4% of my total wealth in cash.  I currently use 2 main repositories for this.

Retirement Investing Today Diversified Investment Portfolio
Click to enlarge

The first of these is a Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) Savings Account which 6 months ago was earning an interest rate of 1.25% AER.  Looking today they seem to have stealthily reduced that to 1.24% AER for which I have received no notification.  YBS, if you’re reading this, I hope you make good use of that extra 0.01%!  As a higher rate tax payer and with inflation now running at 2.1% this savings account is allowing my savings to be eroded at the rate of 1.36% per year.  So every day that goes by a pound held in this account has less purchasing power than it did the day before.  I’m going backwards.  If you happen to be a basic rate taxpayer then you’re also going backwards, albeit at a more leisurely 1.11%.

Little to no movement here is of course no surprise given the latest average savings account data from the Bank of England shown in the chart below.  It shows instant access savings rates up a mere 0.03% in the last 6 months.

Average UK Savings Account Interest Rates
Click to enlarge

What alternative do I have?  Well tells me the Santander 123 current account which pays interest of 3% AER on balances between £3,000 and £20,000 is still hanging around.  It of course also comes with a monthly fee and minimum deposit requirements but it also offers cashback opportunities although I already get that with my American Express Platinum cashback credit card.  Personally, I prefer clean simple accounts and today that looks to be Coventry Building Society with a 1.4% interest rate but these accounts can’t be run online.  I mean honestly an account that cannot be accessed and managed online.  Do the Directors have shares in Royal Mail or something or are they just trying to grab headlines...  For now I’ll just leave what I have in YBS and continue to deposit new savings into my second newer different risk profile repository, Peer to Peer lending (P2P).

Saturday 19 July 2014

Best UK Savings Account Interest Rates & The RateSetter Experiment

I have been using Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) as my Savings Account provider for a few years now.  While once at the top of the best buy league they haven’t been there for some time now.  They have however always been pretty close from an interest rate perspective and have been no nonsense from a T&C’s perspective.  I was receiving 1.5% AER meaning as Higher Rate Tax payer and with inflation running at 2.6% I was receiving a Real interest rate of -1.7%.  In other words every pound sitting in YBS was being devalued monthly.

Recently, they have sent me a letter which starts out with “As your building society, you'll know that we have a tradition of looking after all our customers with good value products and great service...” Great start but of course the small print advised that they were further reducing my savings account interest rate to 1.25% AER.

Of course I’m not surprised given the latest average savings account data from the Bank of England shown in the chart below which show instant access savings rates down 0.27% in the last year.

Average UK Savings Account Interest Rates
Click to enlarge

Going to the market for the latest best buy savings accounts reveals very little. recommends the Santander 123 current account which has sliding scale interest rates (between 0% and 3% AER), a monthly fee and minimum deposit requirements.  The best clean rate looks to be Britannia or Coventry BS with a 1.4% interest rate but these accounts can’t be run online.