Ablrate Review – A Real P2P Experience (Updated September 2020)

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Summary of Ablrate Review: Ablrate offer some of the largest returns in the P2P sector. They offer a somewhat different type of loan relative to the competition, with the assets often being business assets as opposed to property. There is some evidence that their due-diligence and communications are above average. However, with a smaller range of borrowers the loans are of higher risk and it can be harder to diversify. In my personal experience the returns have been more reliable and better than most other P2P platforms. However, having invested since 2016, past performance is no reflection of the future.

Here is how Ablrate compares with similar platforms dealing in business loans:

PlatformLinkTarget Rate (%)My XIRR (%)StatusLive Rating
ReviewUp to 15%11.36%OPEN4/5
ReviewUp to 7%5.68%OPEN2.5/5
ReviewUp to 5.3%5.04%CLOSED3/5
http://www.huddlecapital.comReviewUp to 16%8.0%OPEN3/5

What is Ablrate?

Notionally standing for Asset Backed Lending, Ablrate initially started in July, 2014 specialising in aviation-backed loans. Financing is an on-going requirement in this niche and assets can be reliably valued or insured. Many of the first loans were to these types of assets, for example a small Cessna aircraft. However, a decision to start offering more loans saw this niche focus quickly ditched. Today Ablrate offers loans to businesses secured on assets much like other platforms for the purpose of asset acquisition/refinance.

Typically, the interest rates for loans offered on Ablrate is higher than that on other platforms. Rates have been seen as high as 18%. The loans here are somewhat riskier than standard, with debentures over company assets securing the loan in some cases. These may not be realisable in full if the underlying business struggles.

The amount of business written so far by Ablrate reflects this. Despite being a platform which enjoys a lot of popularity, there is a relatively small pool of borrowers. This could be a result of picky due diligence, or a narrow market for the high cost loan.

Here is a list of Ablrate features:

Established2010
Advertised ReturnsUp to 15%
Loan TypesBusiness/Property
Loan SecurityAssets/Guarantees
Minimum Investment£1
Cash DragDependent on stategy
Secondary Market?Yes
FeesNone
Provision Fund?No
Auto Invest?No
Available in ISA?Yes
FCA Authorised?Yes
Active on forum?Yes
Sign-up offers?None

Are Ablrate profitable?

Platform profitability could be a clue to future stability. Ablrate is a trading name of Aviation and Tech Capital Limited. This company was incorporated in 2012. The last accounts cover the year up to 31 August 2019. The results show the company making a small profit of £46,000 on turnover of around £1m. Turnover has not grown in the previous year and declined slightly, however a reduced cost of sales improved the results.

As with many smaller P2P companies, the balance sheet is in a precarious position. Cash at bank was reported to be £20k and the asset column is dominated by other debtors. Seemingly a smooth payment schedule is needed for the company to repay its regular outgoings.

What are the alternatives?

Platforms following the broad mix of business lending and assets are Assetz Capital, Funding Circle and Funding Secure.

Ablrate Review: Operating Model

The Ablrate operating model is straightforward. They only operate one type of account which requires you to select your investment yourself. There no auto-invest, or black-box options, although you may hold your investments inside an ISA.

Depositing money is easy, and unlike other platforms you can fund your account by debit card as well as bank transfer. This is a very useful feature because the money appears in your account straightaway.

It is clear that Ablrate have tried to be fair to all investors, big and small. Before a loan becomes available there is often a designated period where it is in ‘read-only’ mode. This offers a chance to read the documentation to understand your investment. Once the loan becomes open, bid restrictions apply to the maximum bid to ensure as many people as possible get the chance to participate. (The minimum investment is £1).

Because the typical loan does not rely on sale of a final asset, most of the loans are amortising. This means that a portion of capital is paid back with the monthly interest. (There are also non-amortising loans on the platform).

Ablrate operate one of the better secondary markets on P2P sites. You can trade out of your investment at any time for no fees, and at a discount (or premium) that you can choose. The secondary market is very transparent. It allows you to see the offers others have made, as well as give you a new projected yield reflecting the purchase price of the loan.

A new type of loan has emerged, called a ‘portfolio’ loan. This is designed as a more flexible type of loan more akin to a funding facility, where drawdowns can be for a multitude of projects instead of an individual one that is defined.

So far the global pandemic does not seem to have affected Ablrate’s operations. Payments have continued to accrue as normal and there have been regular communications from the platform.

How are funds protected?

It should be noted that Ablrate do not offer any type of provision fund for their products. This is reflected in the higher interest rate. Security is provided for by the asset itself, or debentures over company assets and/or personal guarantees from directors of the company (if applicable).

Assets are much less reliable than properties as forms of security (although some may dispute that given the performance of some properties held under security). Depending on the asset, they may be quite difficult to value accurately. Alternatively they may have a limited scope for sales market, or could be volatile in value. For some assets, all of these factors may apply.

The personal guarantees are similarly not totally reliable. The guarantee is only as good as the person making it. It is possible (and legal) for a person to suddenly become asset-poor at the time where the guarantee is enforced. It also possible that enforcement can be challenged legally. This can lead to a drawn out case which takes years to resolve. One of the earlier Ablrate loans went down this road.

Ablrate Review: Pros

There are many things to recommend about Ablrate:

Good track record: The loan book is performing well at the moment, with very few setbacks. Problematic loans have been handled well in the main, with a default rate of less than 1%.
Higher interest rates: Many Ablrate loans bear a greater interest rate than other platforms, although this comes with an increase in risk.
Amortising loans: Most loans amortise, which gives a quicker repayment and reduces risk as the loan matures.
Instant Returns: Loans pay interest from the time you bid, not from when they drawdown, reducing cash drag.
Good secondary market: 
The market is truly flexible, offering users the ability to discount or add premium, increasing the chance of transactions.
Diversification purpose: The types of loans Ablrate offer are a little different to other platforms and provide investors with a measure of diversification from property or personal loans.

Ablrate Review: Cons

There are also a few downsides to Ablrate that investors should be wary about.

Increased risk: Higher interest rates imply higher risk. While current loans appear to be well-selected, the nature of the securities involved mean that their values are more volatile, potentially increasing the scope for larger losses.
Borrower Concentration: Many loans on the platform appear to be related to each other, either by company or director. This may have undesirable effects if one loan defaults, such as impairing the ability of the other loans to keep repayments up.
Irregular loan generation: In my experience the rate of new loans appearing on the Ablrate platform is very slow and it would take a long time (or lots of purchasing on the secondary market) to become diversified.

Ablrate Review: Investment Strategy

Currently I am happy with Ablrate and have few problems investing with them. Despite this, I would not commit a large portion of funds to them. I regard investments made here as speculative because of the weaker prospects for recovery if loans do not perform well. Having said that, they are more transparent than most platforms when it comes to dealing with loans that are late or have gone bad. My own checklist includes:
Assess security – unlike property, it is quite difficult to assess the value of a business asset or debenture, but I would check the borrowing company accounts to ensure they are trustworthy and not a bad year away from being bankrupt.
Avoid second charges – property as a security has popped up now and then, I would be wary of second charges.
Keep investment small – resist the temptation to go large to build up a decent balance here.
Check secondary market – often it is possible to buy loans at par (or close to par) which would be better for your portfolio.
Be wary of related loans – the platform makes it clear when a company has other loans, but not related loans from connected people (ie Directors). Forums can be a good source of information with regards to this.

ABLRATE REVIEW: CONCLUSION

Ablrate have been impressive since they started operating, giving investors into their loans a very good rate of return. However, past performance is no guarantee of the future. Some recent problematic loans have underscored that higher rate loans bear more risks. Despite this the quality of their communications are a notch above their competitors.

Disclaimer: This Ablrate review represents my own opinions and should not be substituted for investment advice. Please research before you invest with any firm. Typically P2P investments are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the way bank deposits are, and there are no guarantees that you will receive the returns advertised (or even a return at all).

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