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Our 4 highlights of 2016
It’s fair to say that some years are looked back upon with more fondness than others, although it’s interesting to note how many people have consigned 2016 to the ‘annus horribilis’ category. Certainly it’s a year that will be remembered for a number of reasons, and, economically speaking, a few experts’ fears at the beginning of it have since been realised.
Yet for the peer-to-peer lending sector, and specifically Lending Works, it’s been another year of growth and development which has further entrenched us in the mainstream of financial services. As a company, we’ve now facilitated nearly £50 million in loans, doubled the size of our team, and even expanded into a new office!
These are but a few of the many highlights for Lending Works in 2016, and, with the year now drawing to a close, we’ve decided to pick the four events which we’ve enjoyed most as a company in 2016.
1. Winning the ‘treble’ at the Moneywise Customer Service Awards
Having already left our mark on the Moneywise Customer Service Awards in 2015 after scooping the runner-up ‘Highly Commended’ gong in the Most Trusted Personal Loan Provider category, Lending Works took things to a new level in 2016. The Highly Commended honour was awarded to us in this category once again, and also in the Most Trusted Peer-to-Peer Platform category. But it was our confirmation as winners of the Best Peer-to-Peer Platform for Savers award – seeing off esteemed fellow nominees in the process – which sparked celebration, as we were effectively anointed the number-one option for P2P investors in the UK on an awards night widely acknowledged as the ‘Oscars’ of personal finance.
2. The completion of our Series A investment round
In June, we completed our Series A investment round, raising £3 million in the process. This included a £2 million contribution from NVM Private Equity - an independently-owned private equity firm which manages over £300 million in private equity funds. Their significant investment not only acts as vindication of our financials, team, systems and processes, but also further strengthens our foundations as we pursue continued growth.
3. Our new website
Having a brand our customers can identify with, and be proud of, is very important to us. After many months of research and testing, we launched our new website and logo at the end of November, and we believe this facelift will provide a great launchpad for us as we move into 2017. We want our customers to love using Lending Works, and, aside from enjoying our new-look branding, we hope this new interface will optimise your user experience with us even further.
4. Our full FCA authorisation
We had to save the best for last, didn’t we? For us, the pinnacle of 2016 was undoubtedly confirmation of full FCA authorisation in October. It marked the end of an exhaustive year-long review process, but, as the first P2PFA member to become fully FCA authorised, it represented the ultimate stamp of approval for us as a platform. Having subsequently been granted ISA manager status, we are now poised to deliver the Lending Works ISA in early 2017. For this, and many other reasons, it thus promises to be an even more exciting and successful year than 2016!
For all the resilience the UK economy has shown, there is no doubt that this year's ISA season is set against a backdrop of uncertainty. Whatever the pros and cons, Brexit, and a lack of clarity on what our future economic relationship with the EU will look like, has left us at a crossroads.
The Lifetime ISA (LISA), announced in 2016, would prove to be one of George Osborne’s last flagship gestures to UK savers and investors as Chancellor, eventually launching against a backdrop of anti-climax a year later in April 2017.
As the tax year end approaches, the financial services industry readies itself for a flurry of activity. That's in large part because, with just a couple of months to go, the so-called 'ISA season' is upon us.
Over the last decade, there can be little dispute that the reputation of mainstream banks – and particularly the so-called ‘Big Four’ (HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and RBS) – is at its lowest ebb.
The peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry is now regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The regulatory framework has been designed to protect customers and promote effective competition.
Loan underwriting is the process that we undertake to analyse all of the information provided by each loan applicant and their credit file to assess whether or not that applicant meets our minimum loan criteria. As part of that process all data is verified, analysed and summarised to paint a picture of each applicant.
When you earn interest from a regular bank savings account, for example, the bank automatically deducts basic rate tax (currently 20%) before paying your interest. With interest earned from peer-to-peer lending, tax is not deducted automatically so lenders will need to declare their income to HMRC.
As 2018 draws to a close, with our bellies full of Christmas turkey, it's only natural to look back on the past 12 months and reflect. No doubt, it's been a turbulent one economically and politically, and not everyone has had it all their own way.