our opinion piece in What investment magazine

The below article was published in the September issue of the What Investment magazine, print version (picture above)

Having emerged just over 10 years ago, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has come a very long way to become a regular part of many investors’ everyday vocabulary and is playing an increasingly key role in diversifying and helping boost performance of investors’ portfolios. Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, Chief Strategy Officer at P2P property lending platform Blend Network helps de-mystify the concept and explains why P2P lending can be more than just about great returns by helping investors do well while doing good.

Over the past decade, very low interest rates on bank deposits have left savers effectively being penalised for holding cash at the bank in a near-zero interest rate environment. Meanwhile, stocks have been jittery and investors we speak too are nervous that equity markets may see a correction following their recent rise. The S&P500 has recently rocketed recovering more than half the loss it suffered between 19 February and 23 March when it lost a third of its value. Bonds have also disappointed: yields are barely positive in the US, while they are negative in Japan and much of Europe. Effectively, investors are sure to lose money by holding bonds till maturity. If inflation rises, as many expect to, losses would be even larger.

Consequently, investors have been left hunting for yield elsewhere and gradually turned to private debt to earn a decent return on their hard-earned money while doing the right thing. As part of that trend, many investors have turned to P2P property lending platforms, not only because they tend to offer higher returns than traditional investment products, but also because they are flexibility and easy to use and offer socially responsible investments options.

P2P property lending offers investors the possibility to invest in property-secured loans that offer a higher return compared to holding cash at the bank. However, unlike cash at the bank, P2P lending is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and does involve risk to invested capital. In a nutshell, P2P property lending brings together lenders who want to invest their money with borrowers who need money to build homes.

One of the most appealing aspects of P2P property lending is that it can be used as a force for good. The UK’s housing shortage has been described by successive governments as the nation’s most urgent and complex challenge and solving it as “the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation”. A commonly cited figure in current debate puts at 300,000 the number of houses that need to be built annually by the mid-2020s – 100,000 of which need to be affordable. Yet according to NHBC data, only 160,470 homes were built in England in 2017/18. At a time when large public borrowing will tighten funding for small housebuilders, P2P property lending can and must be part of the solution to help build much-needed homes. P2P property lending platforms such as Blend Network provide funding to experienced SME property developers who are building more affordable homes across the UK regions, therefore helping alleviate the housing crisis. Investors can invest any amount they wish from only £1,000 and do their part in helping solve the UK’s housing crisis, one home at a time.

In summary, I passionately believe that the only way we can face and tackle the housing crisis is by allowing private investors to be part of the solution by lending cash to those experienced property developers who are building the homes the country needs. I strongly sustain that P2P is a tool that, if used appropriately and securely, can help investors diversify their SIPP and SSAS portfolios and enhance their targeted returns.

 

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