FCA Ready To Up Surveillance Of P2P Sector

Some 65 peer-to-peer lending platforms have received a letter from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warning them to “act now” to clean up poor practice or face a “strong and rapid” crackdown, The Times reports.

  • For clarity, Money&Co. had a routine and welcome two-day visit from the FCA in early summer. We have not changed our business model, other than a slight shift of emphasis (within the scope of our permissions and well before the FCA visit) towards property-backed loans, as we like the comfort of this type of asset backing.

AltFi takes up the story as it affects the rest of the P2P sector.

The news comes after the failure of Lendy, which was authorised by the FCA despite known mis-selling concerns and held some £152m of customer investments, and Collateral which operated despite not being licenced by the FCA.

In the seven-page letter seen by The Times the regulator flagged that weaknesses in disclosure to clients was leaving investors with “considerably greater risk than they appreciate” and unclear charging structures were leaving to “headline-grabbing returns in a low interest rate environment”.

The letter also highlighted property platforms are a particular concern for the FCA, some of which have a “range of weaknesses” according to the regulator.

In June the FCA published its new rules for the sector, including a 10% cap on ordinary investors can hold in their portfolio, which were welcomed by the industry.

These rules are due to come into force in December.

Most worryingly, the FCA warned that some platforms had made “significant changes to their business models without notifying us”. 

Historical Performance And IFISA Process Guide

  • Money&Co. lenders have achieved an average return of more than 8 per cent gross (before we deduct our one per cent fee). 

That figure is the result of over £17 million of loans facilitated on the site, as we bring individuals looking for a good return on capital together with carefully vetted small companies seeking funds for growth. Bear in mind that lenders’ capital is at risk. Read warnings on site before committing capital.

  • Money&Co. has been lending for over 5 years and has only had one bad debt so far, representing a bad debt rate of 0.03 per cent per annum.

All loans on site are eligible to be held in a Money&Co. Innovative Finance Individual Savings Account (IFISA), up to the annual ISA limit of £20,000. Such loans offer lenders tax-free income. Our offering is an Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) that can hold the peer-to-peer (P2P) business loans that Money&Co. facilitates. For the purposes of this article, the terms ISA and IFISA are interchangeable.

So here’s our guide to the process:

  • Step 1: Register as a lender. Go to the login page, and go through the process that the law requires us to effect. This means we have to do basic checks on you to comply with money-laundering and other security requirements.
  • Step 2: Put money into your account. This is best done by electronic transfer. We can also process paper cheques drawn in favour of Denmark Square Limited, the parent company of Money&Co.
  • Step 3: Buy loans in the loan market. Once you’ve put cash in your account it will sit there – and it won’t earn interest until you’ve bought a piece of a loan. It’s this final step that requires lenders and IFISA investors to be pro-active. Just choose some loans – all loans on the Money&Co. site can be held in an IFISA – and your money will start earning tax-free interest.

The ISA allowance for 2019/20 is unchanged from last tax year at £20,000, allowing a married couple to put £40,000 into a tax-free environment. Over three years, an investment of this scale in two Money&Co. Innovative Finance ISAs would generate £8,400 of income completely free of tax. We’re assuming a 7 per cent return, net of charges and free of tax here.

Once you have made your initial commitment, you might then consider diversifying – buying a spread of loans. To do this, you can go into the “loans for sale” market. All loans bought in this market also qualify for IFISA tax benefits.

Risk: Security, Access, Yield

Do consider not just the return, but the security and the ease of access to your investment. We write regularly about these three key factors. Here’s one of several earlier articles on security, access and yield.


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Disclaimer: Money&Co.™ is the trading name of Denmark Square Limited, Company Number 08561817, registered in England & Wales, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The company is identified on the Financial Services Register under Reference Number 727325. The registered office is 58 Glentham Road, Barnes, London, SW13 9JJ where the register of Directors may be inspected. Denmark Square Limited (ISA manager reference number Z1932) manages the Money&Co. Innovative Finance ISA.