Global Banking & Finance Review – Q&A with Tim Simon, Chairman of Madiston LendLoanInvest
With the decline in lending by high street banks in the UK and the growth of alternative financial lenders, what are the major risks a borrower encounters when choosing an alternative lender?
It is important that borrowers understand the detail of the agreement they're entering into, the charges the alternative lender makes and what happens in the event of a borrower's circumstances changing or a borrower defaults. To prevent misunderstanding or bad practice in the future, from 1st April this year the P2P Lending market will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and that is already having a positive impact on the market and reducing the risks associated with it. Reputable alternative lenders are welcoming the regulation as are the main trade bodies like the P2P Finance Association whose members make up the lion's share of the market.
Please give a brief description of Madiston LendLoanInvest and how you came into fruition.
Madiston LendLoanInvest is a very flexible P2P Lending site that enables lenders and borrowers to choose how they want to manage their money. There are two markets – Bidding and Matching – with tools for automatic bidding and re-bidding to make life easier for lenders. The Bidding Market shows borrowers' loan requests so they can put their case directly to lenders. Lenders can also see the borrower's credit category and all the bids from other lenders so they have information to make individual decisions on each loan request. The automated Matching Market is for borrowers and lenders who would rather the system did all the work for them. With the tools available, lenders have granular control in the Matching Market too, using AutoLend to set up and flex their lending parameters and ARBU (automatic response to bumped-off underbid) to automatically make new bids if their first offers were too high.
Madiston LendLoanInvest is built on Madiston plc's own P2P Lending software, designed from the outset as a commercially available, customisable platform. Tim Simon, CEO of Madiston, has a background in FinTech (with market leading software for the securities and banking market) but first came across P2P Lending when he was researching music crowd funding for his son's band. Seeing the potential of alternative finance, he researched the market and now Madiston has the software to provide lenders and borrowers with more choice, and corporates looking to enter the market with a software platform to suit.
What services do Madiston LendLoanInvest offer that differ from their competitors?
The Bidding Market is different within the personal lending space – most P2P lenders for personal loans use the "behind the scenes" Matching Market style. The Bidding Market is seen more often in business lending but we've implemented it for lenders on personal lending giving them the opportunity to decide for themselves if they'd like to help individual borrowers but, perhaps, at a higher interest rate.
Madiston LendLoanInvest offers more flexibility for borrowers – if borrowers want to be specific and borrow £1,110 over 15 months, they can. They are not shoe-horned into one, three or five year loans and they can borrow in £10 increments over £1,000. By borrowing only what they need over the shortest period they can afford, borrowers can contain their costs.
It provides more control for lenders – in addition to the controls they have to set up their lending, they are kept informed of every action and transaction affecting their portfolio (they can switch email notifications on or off) with a dashboard and drill-down capability so they can see, to the penny, where their money is, where their interest is coming from, when repayments will be made and how the charges have been calculated.
It caters for experienced P2P lenders – during our research, we learned that lenders were frustrated because they wanted the opportunity to use their own skills and knowledge on the P2P platforms to increase the return on their money. Direct choices on the Bidding Market, detailed parameter settings on AutoLend and ARBU, combined with the information on the dashboard, means they can now get to know the platform and flex their lending parameters as they see fit to get the most from their money.
Do you offer borrowers financial advice?
We don't offer financial advice but extensive information about the risks, rewards and costs involved is available on the site.
With regards to lenders, how do your services benefit them?
We have built a system which we believe offers many benefits to lenders, not least:
Wider range of borrowers so higher interest rates on offer. One of the most important considerations for lenders is the return they can expect from their investment. Madiston LendLoanInvest includes a wider range of creditworthy borrowers. These are borrowers who just dip below the credit levels offered on the market leading sites, but still pass the credit, affordability and stability checks. These borrowers are under-served in the market at the moment, sitting on the cusp of B/C credit categories but are often attractive to lenders as they are prepared to pay a sensible level of interest to reflect that. At the moment, there are Loan requests on the site where the borrower has only a few credit stars but has offered an attractive target interest rate of 15 per cent. Lenders set their own risk and reward model by choosing borrowers from the range on offer.
Two markets so lenders can control their lending, their way. We operate two markets – a Bidding Market and a Matching Market – so lenders can choose how much involvement they want in their day-to-day lending, from total automation to making individual decisions on every loan.
Lenders' bids on the Bidding Market are transparent, eBay style. This market is visible on the site, so Lenders can see competitive bids and decide the optimum interest rate to bid for the most competitive loans. This is fascinating to watch as you see bidding strategies in action.
Five portfolios available on the Matching Market for automatic lending. Lenders can set up their portfolios as they wish, perhaps with different risk and reward objectives, giving them granular control over how their money is matched with borrowers. They can set up these portfolios once and let the system apply their parameters without further involvement or they can use their experience to flex the settings over time to improve their returns.
System tools to help achieve the best returns. ARBU is a tool that re-bids automatically if initial bids are too high to be included in the more competitive loans. This avoids the frustration of being outbid at the last minute and missing out on a loan offering attractive rates. Again, lenders choose their own settings so ARBU bids according to their preferences.
An optional Compensation Scheme to protect lenders against defaults and late payments. We offer an optional compensation scheme to lenders so they can opt in if they'd like to have some protection against potential defaults and late payments.
Change in Instalment Plan protects lenders from loans ending early. If a borrower decides to repay his/her loan early, it is the lender that is potentially inconvenienced. The lender, or the system, has to reallocate the money to new loans with an inevitable delay in getting back to earning interest. The Change in Instalment Plan gives the freedom to the borrower to repay early but a small charge is made and lenders are compensated as a result.
Comprehensive information so lenders know exactly what is happening with their money. Quite rightly, lenders like to be kept informed about all events that affect their money. To do this we provide email notifications that inform lenders about everything from a bid on a loan to lenders' questions and borrowers' answers on Loan Requests they're bidding on. This information is also available through an easy to use and informative dashboard, ensuring lenders know exactly where their interest is being earned and how charges are calculated to the penny.
Interest on holding account balances. Madiston LendLoanInvest passes on any interest received in the Client Money account so even when a lender's money is not lent out, it is still earning a level of interest.
What plans do you have for 2014 to further the activities of Madiston LendLoanInvest in order to provide fair loan options as well as upholding the regulations and high standards of the Peer-To-Peer Finance Association?
Fair is the optimum word – our site is designed to offer a fair balance between lender and borrower with market forces driving the interest rates agreed, so they both feel like the process has been rewarding. As a member of the P2PFA we have been actively involved in the consultation with FCA, the Treasury, HMRC and others to ensure the regulation does its job and we welcome the high standards being set. Madiston LendLoanInvest's new facilities will be:
- Secondary market for lenders to sell their loan slices
- Flexible loan product to provide a better solution for borrowers than having rolling credit card balances at high interest
- Business lending