Assetz Capital Review – A Lenders Take (Updated July 2020)

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Summary: Assetz Capital is a real ‘one-size fits all’ platform. It offers a variety of different investment products under a few different asset classes. It is one of the more established platforms. It has a good track record and deal flow is good, allowing for diversification. On the downside, Assetz has not been immune from very poorly performing loans. Additionally, interest rates are not as good as they used to be. That being said, I would expect Assetz to feature prominently in an established P2P lender portfolio.

Here is how Assetz compares to my other P2P investments:

PlatformLinkTarget Rate (%)My XIRR (%)StatusLive Rating
Review9-12%-1.43% (estimate)CLOSED0.5/5
ReviewUp to 16%-5.4% (estimate)CLOSED1.5/5
ReviewUp to 7.2%7.23%OPEN4/5
ReviewUp to 11%5.72%OPEN4/5
ReviewUp to 13%0.03% (estimate)CLOSED2.5/5
ReviewUp to 8.5%3.27%OPEN2/5
Review4-5%4.56%OPEN3/5
ReviewUp to 8%1.89%OPEN3.5/5
Review4-7.5%3.36%OPEN4/5

What is Assetz Captial?

Assetz Capital are one of the mature platforms in the P2P industry. It was founded in 2012, and one of the pioneers behind asset-backed P2P lending, hence the name. Whilst competitors Ratesetter and Zopa were well-established, these platforms concentrated on lending to individuals. Therefore by targeting loans to SMEs (small to medium enterprises) and for property development, a new market was formed.

Many businesses took out Assetz loans because mainstream banks would not fund them. As a result interest rates were extremely high, with double digit returns not uncommon. This in turn attracted lenders to the platform and competitors to the market. As of today the platform writes over £100m of loans a year.

Unlike many other platforms, Assetz has many different investment products to choose from. The primary product is a self-select product whereby you pick your own investments. There is also as well as a variety of black-box accounts. These target businesses, property, and formerly ‘green investments’. Accounts by investment horizon also exist. There is an instant access account, and a 30-day access account. The interest rate varies between these accounts. You can also hold investments inside a SIPP or ISA.

In recent times the types of loans have swung heavily to being backed by property. Residential/commercial bridging, development or refurbishment loans are common here. The unsecured business loans (such as those seen on Funding Circle) are dying out and being less common.

Here is a table showing Assetz Capital’s features:

Established2012
Advertised Returns5%-15%
Loan TypesProperty/SME
Loan SecurityProperty, Debenture, Assets
Minimum Investment£1
DragDependent on account
Secondary Market?Yes
FeesNone
Provision Fund?Only for auto-invest
Auto Invest?Yes
Available in ISA?Yes
FCA Authorised?Yes
Active on forum?Yes
Sign-up offers?Up to £350

Sign-up Bonus

The current sign-up offer pays a £50 bonus when you invest £1,000 in the first 60 days after your registration. Funds paid after 12 months. If you are interested, sign up here.

Are Assetz Capital profitable?

Assetz is a trading name of Assetz SME Capital Limited. This company was incorporated in 2012. The last set of accounts cover the period of 12 months to 31 March 2019.  This report throws up some interesting information. The company slumped to a loss (to £0.7m from £1.5m profit) and revenue increased to £17m from £14m. The cause seems to be an increase in staff, as headcount has increased to 98 from 78.

There is a healthy net asset position of £2.9m, but this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Development costs have been capitalised and are around £1.4m on the balance sheet. The debtors balance would also include outstanding loan balances. Due to the events of 2020 these may become impaired. The cash at bank stood at £700k, but this is likely not to be too relevant as this was a long time ago.

Assetz have been raising money on Seedrs (having three rounds of capital raises) and have made some good noises about profitability, and that critical mass having been achieved. New money is required for the expansion of the business. The end goal seems like a stock market listing, and at present this appears feasible if their current growth can be sustained.

Assetz Capital Coronavirus Measures

Normal market conditions do not apply at present due to the coronavirus. This decision was taken as of 12/3/20 and as of yet still applies. Withdrawals from the Access accounts will not meet their stated timeframes, instead going into a queue system.

The interest received can also vary, depending on how much is received from borrowers. At present a 0.9% fee is levied on all active performing loans. This appears to accrue to Assetz and not to any type of provision fund.

Operating Model

This is not complicated. Once an account is opened and you have been verified, you can add money to your account via bank transfer. This sits in your Cash Account on Assetz initially, until you decide what you want to do with it. Money can be allocated to different accounts, in whichever proportion you wish. The current options are:

  • Quick Access account (target rate 3.75%)
  • 30-day Access account (target rate 4.0%)
  • 90-day Access Account (paying 5.75%)
  • Property Secured Account (paying 5.5%, unavailable for new investment)
  • Great British Business Account (paying 6.25%, unavailable for new investment)
  • Manual Lending Account (variable interest, depending on loans)

It should be noted that these are target rates and not guaranteed. Furthermore, withdrawing out of the Quick/30/90-day accounts is subject to ‘market conditions’ (although there have been no problems so far). Loan interest you receive can either be re-invested, or withdrawn back to your cash account, where you can either invest in another product or withdraw to your bank.

As you may guess, the interest rates vary according to risk. The highest paying loans would be found under the manual lending account. Most of the higher payers are business loans, carrying the most volatility.

Assetz have been known to run various promotions at different times of the year giving bonus interest on different accounts. If you have a decent sum to invest, it may be worth waiting for a promotional period to come around.

 

How are funds protected?

Money loaned out is secured with assets – be it property or other business assets, and guarantees if applicable. A conservative 70% loan to value is used for property. This should provide some comfort should a project go wrong although is no guarantee. There are no provision funds on Assetz for any account aside from the Great British Business Account which benefits from a discretionary fund to cushion losses.

Pros of Assetz Capital

There are a few things to like about this platform:

Variety of loan accounts: It is a good thing to have a nice variety of loans products to invest in. This allows investors to tailor investments to their own risk appetite.
Competitive Interest Rates: It is rare to see very large interest rates here. For some of their accounts, the rates are good. The Quick Access account rate is better than both comparable products in Ratesetter and Zopa.
Good deal flow: It is possible to see what deals are in the pipeline for self-select customers. There are also plenty of opportunities to invest.
Secondary Market: There are no fees charged on selling loans. Some loans are very liquid, meaning an almost instant cash-out.
Good track record: Assetz have been around for some time and enjoy a good record. Assetz are also proactive on some forums and operate a Q&A section on each loan, allowing lenders to ask questions.
Good promotional offers: There are often good offers to sign up, and for existing customers.

Cons of Assetz Capital

However, this should be weighed up against some bad points:

Falling interest rates: Perhaps as a result of competition, rates are falling and have been for some time. The loan book statistics point this out nicely (see below). It would be rare for loans to get into double digit returns today.
Bad diversification: A problem with the auto-investing accounts (both business and property) is that not all loans qualify for it. This can result in some very volatile results if you are unfortunate enough to hit some of the bad loans.
Cash Drag: Another problem for new lenders may be cash drag. The auto-invest accounts only deploy cash when a loan is available. For the self-select accounts, the pipeline of loans can be quite slow to draw down.
Bad loans still possible: The nightmares seen on other platforms are possible (and have happened on Assetz). Some loans feature second charges or only debentures over business assets. Large losses are possible on these.

Declining returns and a change of strategy

The first point is of most relevance to lenders. As we can see, the returns have declined as such:

The reasons for this seem to be fairly straightforward. New lenders have made capital easier to access which has pushed down rates across the industry particularly for the better loans. Another reason is that Assetz have greatly reduced (or pulled out of) business lending. This has caused them plenty of problems in the past. If you look at the manual loans, the highest paying loans are all business loans.

My Assetz Capital Investment Strategy

I quite like the Quick Access/30-day Access accounts here, which offer a good level of interest. The risks here like most other competitors, is platform risk. The same caveats apply to this money as any other: only invest what you are comfortable with.

I haven’t bothered with the auto-investing loans. Their interest rates are a tad lower than the self-select products, and I have heard some very poor stories about the level of diversification achieved in these products. I would place little faith in the provision fund here.

The self-select product is a good one for me, but still needs some careful handling. Like it was on Funding Secure, it is very tempting to sort the available loans by percentage and invest in the top ones, but this is fraught with danger. Many of my rules are the same as on other platforms such as:

Modest investment size: I aim for around 1% (or less) of my account in each loan. This is possible over time in Assetz because there are regular loans.
Read loans carefully: It is insufficient just to skim-read – read the details and ask yourself whether the loan could repay if things went wrong. Often in the case of property some values can be gleaned using Rightmove.
Avoid poor asset-backing: I avoid loans with bad asset backing such as a second-charge loan, or a business asset which is valued on a multiple of future income streams. In both these cases it is possible to face a very big loss, and quite often the interest rates do not reflect the additional risk.
Avoid low-interest loans: The constant decrease of interest has led to incredibly low rates, for instance commercial mortgages at 60% LTV paying 5%.

CONCLUSION

Assetz Capital are well regarded in the industry, and despite the inevitable irritations with problematic loans on the whole I feel they are competent and manage their loans professionally. Platform risk is also decreased with the fact that they are profitable (as of 2017). With a variety of loan products to invest in I feel that (as far as P2P places go) this is a decent place for the money.

Disclaimer: This article 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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