Interview with Brickowner CEO Fred Bristol

“Disclaimer: I have participated in the Brickowner seeding round on seedrs and therefor holding some equity (0.025%) of Brickowner. I guarantee to report objectively about Brickowner, but for transparency I decided to share this information with you. “

I was able to ask Fred Bristol, Brickowner CEO, a few questions which he answered. You can read the interview below. Many Thanks to Fred for answering in such detail. If you can’t wait to invest, Brickowner is offering cashback GBP 50 on your first GBP 1000 invested (click link).

1) Could you tell me a little bit about the story behind Brickowner? When and by whom was the idea born to create a p2p platform?

Brickowner was founded in 2015 by myself, Fred Bristol, and Toby Stone. Since university I have invested and managed property, both in the UK and abroad. In early 2015 whilst I was researching and investing in property I saw opportunities for others to invest alongside me. Simultaneously Toby (co-founder) was looking for ways to save for a home purchase, with the return on cash from banks so low, his savings were depreciating relative to property. These two problems led to the idea for Brickowner.

After a bit of discussion and research, we found that such difficulties were a recurring problem experienced amongst our friends. Toby’s experience and work with start ups led to a discussion around the potential of crowdfunding and after being introduced to a number of these platforms, I realised that a similiar platform could help others save for property and invest alongside professionals. Obviously the property crowdfunding market has matured a lot since then.

2) The p2p/crowdlendling&funding market has gained traction during the last couple of years, do you think this will persist?

Fred Bristol, Founder and CEO

I think the growth of the sector is an indication that every day investors are looking for new ways to invest their money, after years of receiving savings returns that don’t beat inflation. Changes in technology mean that such investments are easier than they have been before and provide people with a level of control they haven’t ever been offered. If I logged into Brickowner now, I could tell where my money was invested, the fees charged and my projected return over the investment period, such transparency isn’t provided by banks and most large fund managers, due to the older technologies used and the disparity between the return they receive vs. the interest they offer.

Given the above, it is easy to see why the crowd-lending/funding market will continue to increase, if we compare the EU market to the US we still have a long way to go before our crowdfunding markets experience the same maturity. By 2025 crowdfunding is expected to increase by 300% globally, the EU will experience a greater proportion of that growth if we account for it’s size now when compared to the US and Asia. My view personally is that people will use a number of preferred and trusted platforms to invest in the future, moving away from a single savings account, with p2p/crowdlending/funding platforms meeting that need. Brickowner aims to become the trusted property investment platform in this regard.

3) You are raising some capital on seedrs. Will this be the last round, or can interested investors expect more rounds in the future?

The decision to raise money on the Seedrs platform was made because it allowed anyone access to an invest in our business, this is a principle we’ve applied to property investment and wanted to use in order to grow ourselves. We found quite often people who invested were passionate about our performance and really bought into our platform and vision.

If there is a need to raise further capital for Brickowner, we will likely continue to use Seedrs as a platform for this. There is likely to be another round after this present round. This will give people further opportunities to invest and support the business.

4) There are already other p2p platforms in your segment, such as property moose, property partner etc. Why is Brickowner better or how is it different?

I feel that Brickowner differentiates itself in a number of key ways:

– We have built our platform from scratch working with users to ensure that our platform is as easy to use as possible, we truly believe everyone should be able to invest in property and technology should support rather than hinder this.

– Unlike the other platforms you mention we are working with experienced property asset managers to source and manage the opportunities, thereby giving people access to property investment opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.

– we are providing our users with a broad range of opportunities within different property sub sectors, not just residential

5) Congratulations to you for having funded your first project by investors some weeks ago. A second one is now in the funding phase. What can we expect in the next weeks?

Thank you! We are currently looking to work with our investors to ensure we are providing property opportunities that they want to support. This means that over the near term we will ensure that properties are sufficiently diverse to allow investors to spread their money between different investments and also find out what types of property interest them. Given the feedback so far it is likely that we will potentially look at professional HMOs (houses in multiple occupations), where a single home is rented to multiple professional tenants in the coming weeks. In the medium term we are planning to offer a number of commercial property developments as well as further residential opportunities.

As we work with some of the leading property managers in the UK, we are able to offer a wide variety of property investments with strong capital growth and income potential. The diversity of property offered is one of the key differences between our platform and others.

6) Are you happy with the speed the projects are filling? Are there any institutional lenders interested to invest via Brickowner?

Our projects are filling steadily now, and I am happy with the speed in which people are investing. We have been keen to ensure that new users have had a good investment experience. At present we are not speaking to institutions in terms of them using our platform. We are focussing on providing the best possible service to individuals. Other time we may also look at ways we could also incorporate institutional users for our platform.

7) When do you expect break even?

On current projections we are expecting to break even at the beginning of year 3, this obviously depends on a number of factors, including whether we feel it is in the best interest of our shareholders to delay break even in order to grow bigger quicker in a shorter timeframe.

8) Is there anything else you would like to let know my readers?

We are currently offering new investors £50 for their first £1000 (click link) invested, given that we have funded our first property, we will shortly close our second we wanted to show new users how easy our platform is to use! If your readers have any questions please contact hello@brickowner.com or visit the site www.brickowner.com

Some news from p2p land

Today I have only some news and updates for you.

Swaper

With Swaper it always looks like there are no loans available. That’s not entirely true as new loans are added everday, but they get sucked in by the autoinvests. My money is always nearly completely invested. Within 4 to 6 weeks loans from a new country should be added to the platform and will increase the supply. I am not allowed to say which one at the moment. It won’t be Denmark, as they are looking for  staff there first. Denmark will follow after next. Visit Swaper.

Saving Stream will be named Lendy 

As I mentioned before Lendy ltd is the operator of Saving Stream. Now the platform will adopt the same name. Rumours say that the FCA made this one of some mandatory conditions for Saving Stream to obtain fully authorised status. There are no other changes at the moment, but maybe we will be confused by Lendy and Lenndy, the lithunian platform 😉

Twino to offer payment guarantee loans

Twino has announced to offer loans with a payment guarantee in the near future, an invention by Twino. These loans will always pay on due date, this will give some planning security to investors. That’s nice, but these loans are no invention by Twino. Omaraha uses this procedure on their secured loans and Lenndy on their buyback loans. Maybe Twino did not know that, or didn’t look so hard 😉

Estateguru is getting on my nerves, but the supply increases

Not really official news, but I have to get rid off it 😉 There is room for improvement for Estateguru in terms of investor communication. It takes days to get answers (if any) to emails and it looks like that late payers are handled with kid gloves . There are borrowers that pay their interest installment always late and it seems like as Estateguru is tolerating that. In the end I have to admit, that there is no default to date and all borrowers have paid up. As investor I cannot complain with the supply of new loans in the last 2 weeks. Nearly daily new loans are coming in and sometimes more then one per day. This is fantastic and hopefully sustainable.

Omaraha – a quick flashback

Some months ago I have begun to invest with Omaraha. After I got used to the platform’s functionality my investments go smoothly and as expected.

A deepened look at the credit scores 

I asked the support to give me more details about the credit scores (ratings). I would like to share this information with you:
901-1000 = very good, no problems in credit registers and also positive payment discipline in our company or in our partner companies.
801-900 = good, no current and past problems in credit registers and other information is positive.
701-800 = decent, can be new and unknow client without payment problems, or client who have had little payment problems in the past, but other information is positive.
601-700 = riskier, either younger clients or clients who have had previous payment problems, but currently have not.
How does my portfolio look?

On the left-hand side you can see all my loans and you’ll notice that three of them are marked yellow. This overview can be found in your account under investments. I have decided not to upload the complete screenshot as there the borrower’s name is visible. My 3 yellow projects are all Slovaks and have a score of 700, so they rank in the lowest category. I suspected that this would happen, so no surprises here. At first appearance this looks great, just exclude the 700ers and everythink is okay? Yes and no, as with some green loans there are minor payment problems. Some borrowers have paid a partial installement and then renegogiated the payment plan. So I expect some of the greens to turn yellow at some point. To get a good feeling about my portfolio’s performance I have to give it a closer look.

 

Detailled information about the credit history

If you click on a loan in your portfolio you get a list of actions taken by Omahara, to secure the funds. Unfortunately these informations are not available in English. I already let Omaraha know that I would welcome this information in English.  As there is no secondary market at Omaraha these infos are not really useful anyway. At the end it is most important how many funds I have gotten back.

With this in mind I am investing furher and give periodically some updates. If there are questions, don’t hesitate to post here.

Linked Finance – Experiences with Irish SME loans

Today I would like to introduce Linked Finance from Ireland to you. The platform was launched during March 2013 and had celebrated its anniversary some days ago. According to the platform Linked Finance was the first and is the biggest p2p platform in Ireland.

Loan types and interest rates

All loans are equipped with a prefixed rate of interest and come with a duration of 12 to 36 months and can therefor be considered short to midterm.
Borrowers are Irish SME’s only. The interest rates range between 8.5 to 15 percent, varying from duration and credit grade (see image on the right). A grade of Y means that the borrowing company is active for less then two years. The loans have amounts from 5k to 250k Euro. The loans are set up as annuities, this means they pay fixed monthly installments which contain a capital and a interest (re)payment.

Low default rates and nice stats

Linked Finance publishes its loanbook every three months. You find it within the stats section, but you need to be logged in to have access. At the end of 2016 the default figure was only 1.14 percent (higher then Lendix, although fantastic). This figure was calculated while excluding loans which are less then 120 days old. That’s fair as these new loans would have sugercoated the default rate . Strong loan growth would have had the same effect on the default rate. With the exclusion of these loans Linked Finance creates a solid and reliable data basis.

Registration, Deposit/Withdrawal and Investor fees

Registration is a fast and easy process which doesn’t take more then 2 minutes. Additionally to the password a 6 digit code is set, which is partially mandatory with every login attempt. During registration there is no need to upload identification documents. But they need to be sent to the support before a withdrawal is possible. My advice is to send the docs short after registration, to be fully prepared.

Free deposits can be made through bank transfers and debit card payments. There is a two percent service fee for credit card payments. Four withdrawals per calendar year are free. Every additional withdrawal will cost you 10 Euro. I consider this fee effrontery, but it should be manageable to survive a year with four withdrawals only. As we are speaking about fees, there is another one I would like to direct your attention to. Linked Finance charges a 1.2 percent annual investor fee, and it will be taken automatically off every repayment. So keep in mind that a gross 10.5 interest rate will net only 9.3 percent annually (without compounding).

Conclusion

Although I don’t like the investor’s fee I like Linked Finance. The low rate of defaults and the very good supply of new loans let me stay. Further I have to admit that they are transparent about all fees and default rates.

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Stream changed its rules (for the better)

Recently Saving Stream announced a change of their rules. Further the second default was processed without any shortcoming for investors. Let’s take one thing at a time:

Purchases without funds on account now only possible on primary market

Saving Stream offered through the INPL system (invest now pay later) a possiblity to invest without even having sufficient or any funds on the account. This has come to an end, at least on the secondary market, where loans only can be bought, if the investor’s account is sufficiently funded. The primary market (pipeline loans) is not affected by this change of rules. One can still  subscribe for the desired amount in new loans and gets the assignment (or even partially, depending on the demand). Afterwards you still have 48 hours time to fund your account, as it used to be. This may be a little bit annoying for investors, but this step seems quite logical as you should only be able to buy something (and get interest) if you have the funds available. From Saving Stream’s viewpoint I can fully understand this measure.

Some new notations and their functionality

On the secondary market you can see on the rearmost column the interest status, in this case it is IOA (see picture below):

IOA (interest on account): Interest is paid in advance and will be credited to the investor’s account on the first day of the month. Everything is okay here.

SBL (serviced by Lendy): Saving Streams platform operator is Lendy ltd. During this status the interest is being serviced by Lendy. The borrower is delayed 1 to 90 days. This does not mean that something bad is around the corner, but it might be an indication that not all will go as planned.

IA (interest accruing): Interest is still accruing, but not credited on the investor’s account anymore. This happens if a loan is late  91 to 180 days.  Again, this does not mean that the borrower does not pay in the end, but it might be an even stronger indication that something might go southward.

DEF (default): Loans which are overdue for more then 180 days are considered as a default. These loans can still be sold, but are placed within the default tab and therefor no longer visible on the secondary market.

These change of rules has lead that 3 loans  (PBL074, PBL075 & PBL081) als have been marked as defaults. Now we have a clear understanding of which loans on Saving Stream are marked as default.

PBL020 – default was settled

It has took a while, but in the end the loans was processed and all investors have received their capital plus interest. So, as to date no investor has ever lost a single penny by investing with Saving Stream. The downside is, that the provision fund has covered a lot for investors in this default and is now low on money. So maybe with the next default, investors might suffer some losses. So look closely in which loans you are investing and monitor your portfolio.

If you would like to give Saving Stream a try, then register here. You can for example use Currencyfair for the money transfer and currency exchange and get a 30 Euro bonus in doing so (if you use the previous currencyfair link and transfer more then 400 Euro or the equivalent in any other currency).

 

 

 

Lenndy with some new features

Some weeks ago I introduced Lenndy to you. In the meantime some new features were implemented, which I would like to bring closer to you.

A new Loan Originator

Simplefin is a new and dew-fresh Loan Originator from Lithunia, which recently finances it’s projects through Lenndy . There were six invoices (some smaller) funded very quickly. According to Lenny new originators will follow as well.

No secondary market, but the possibility to sell a loan

Lenndy has no secondary market available yet, but allows investors to sell a loan if they want to liquidate. Please be remindet that this is not cheap, it costs 5 percent of the loan’s residual value. What is interesting is: the loans are bought by institutional investors with a 5 percent disount. If you are interested in buying such loans with discount, you need to get in contact with Lenndy by email. You will then get such offers per email. You can see the sell button in your portfolio view.

Lenndy Club with additional one percent of interest

At the Lenndy front page you see that there is a Lenndy Club. If you would like to join the club, you need to contact Lenndy directly. There are some conditions. Lenndy sends offers of new loans to you which you need to close with your bid if you would like to receive the bonus interest. Example: 7k loan, which is already funded with 1k, to get the additional interest, you need to bid 6k to completely fund the loan. For me personally this is too much, but this has to decide every investor for himself.

A look at actual figures

By comparison to my post from 12th February, Lenndy has managed to grow nicely during the last month as you can see in the following picture:

290 new Investors, 500k more volume and 68 new projects. Not a bad result for this young platform.  At the moment some projects on Lenndy need funding. One of them is a 165k mortgage loan with a duration of 12 months and 12 percent interest rate (plus buyback). Follow me to register at Lenndy