Innovative Finance ISA can help you diversify away from equity markets and listed bonds. However, you have to understand the types of investments you can have within an Innovative Finance ISA, as they can be somewhat different from one another.
Before you invest, you have to assess the provider offering IFISA service as each platform has its unique offers and deal flow.
Most peer to peer lending platforms often provide loans to specific borrowers like individuals, property developers or businesses. While some platforms offer loans one of the three types of borrowers, others lend to more than one type of borrower. Some peer to peer lenders may spread your funds automatically across a wide of loans, while others allow investors to pick the loans they would like to invest in manually. Typically platforms originate the debt you hold within their Innovative Finance ISAs and utilise their methods to assess the borrowers. These procedures are often used to assess whether the firm is ok satisfied with the default threat that the borrower possesses to screen out risks altogether. Therefore, Innovative Finance ISA is considered as a high-risk investment because of the default risk of borrowers.
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) does not protect peer o peer loans as the cash or regulated investments, including unit trusts or open-ended investment firms provided by UK authorised organisations. For cash deposits, the FSCS pays out up to £85,000 per person per company to investors who claim against firms that declared in default. With regulated investments such as corporate bonds, the FSCS will cover up to £50,000 per person per company for a claim against the firm that declared in default.
Some financial advisers don’t like to put their client’s funds into the types of investments that you can hold within an Innovative Finance ISA since the FSCS does not protect it. Therefore keep in mind that if a provider originating the peer to peer loans goes under, you will depend on its recovery procedure, and there is a chance that loans may not be repaid.
How to deal with the risk of default?
If the economy goes down, the rate of borrower default could rise, also increasing the risk of investors losing their money. But, the firms aim to mitigate this risk of default in different ways. Peer to peer lending platforms like Kuflink offers a provision or wind-down plan, which is money that is used to compensate investors when borrowers default. Some firms like LendingCrowd only lend loans that are secured against an underlying asset like property. In case a borrower defaults, the asset used to secure the loan can be sold to recover all or part of the investor’s money.
Some large peer to peer lenders like funding circle don’t secure loans or have provision funds. However, they aim to mitigate the default risk by diversifying investor’s funds across a range of loans, so if a few borrowers default, the investors won’t be left out of pocket. A few firms draw claim that no lender has yet lost any funds. Still, the market is comparatively young and has yet to experience a high-interest rate recession, which can test peer to peer platforms capability to mitigate high default rates.
Also, every firm has its own way of calculating what counts as a default, which makes it hard to compare their delinquency rate. Peer to peer lending platforms that are also members of the Peer to Peer Finance Association (p2pFA) use the association’s default standard to give comparable stats for their default rates. According to P2PFA, a default is any portion of a loan that hasn’t been repaid after 120 days of the original repayment date or where the borrower isn’t going to repay the loan for reasons like bankruptcy. P2PFA’s definition of default also includes every cost incurred with regards to the late repayments, which aren’t recovered from the borrower.
Overall there are two things that you need to look out for a while choosing a platform that is whether they are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and if they have a provision or wind down fund to cover investors in case of borrower default. Other than these two major considerations, it is also important that you understand how IFISA works, where your funds are being lent, all the risks that are involved and how your provider can mitigate those risks. If you understand IFISA, then invest your money but be sure to diversify to reduce risk and maximise returns.