Peer-to-peer lender reaches £1bn milestone

Stuart Law

Manchester-based Assetz Capital, one of the UK’s most impactful business lenders, has surpassed the £1bn mark for lending to SMEs and housebuilders across the UK, with more than £350m being deployed in the North since 2013.

As part of its business lending, Assetz Capital has been a key supporter of the UK housing market, funding a total of 4,846 new homes since its inception.

In fact, the firm funded the construction of one in every 100 new homes built in the past year, the entirety of the growth in new housing starts. In the North alone, Assetz Capital has funded more than 340 SMEs, as well as the construction of in excess of 2,000 new homes.

Assetz Capital funds its property-secured loans through a growing network of more than 38,000 retail and institutional investors who have earned more than £109m of total gross interest on their investments to date.

In addition, around half of the £1bn of lending to date has already been repaid on time by borrowers, thus allowing further lending on new loans to support further economic growth.

Investors can earn target gross interest rates of up to 5.75 per cent in automated investment accounts.

Alongside large numbers of retail investors, banks and investment funds also count among the investor base who are capitalising upon Assetz’s attractive interest rate returns while also delivering much-needed finance to the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Having reached its last milestone of £500m of lending in June 2018, Assetz has doubled its lending again in just the past 20 months through exceptional demand from businesses and housebuilders alike.

In September 2019, the company was placed 53rd on The Sunday Times’ Tech Track 100 league table for the second consecutive year, having achieved an annual sales rise of 85.77% over three years.

The firm was founded by entrepreneur Stuart Law and colleagues in 2013 during the fallout of the global financial crisis.

He believed that the banks were no longer able to serve their original purpose in that interest rates were at all-time lows and business finance was often inaccessible, and so wanted to provide fairer returns to investors and make a positive impact on the economy through re-enabling lending to credit-worthy borrowers.

In addition to development finance for housebuilders, Assetz Capital also offers commercial mortgages and bridging loans and has funded most types of business including substantial support for the manufacturing, services, care home and student accommodation sectors.

Based in Manchester, with additional offices in London, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the firm now employs 110 staff and has 40 people in the field nationwide to meet with borrowers and assess their funding requirements.

In January, the company announced that £100m had been invested through its tax-free Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) accounts, of which there are currently 5,000.

According to the latest findings from HMRC’s Individual Savings Account Statistics (April 2019), Assetz Capital held 23% of the total £366m held in all UK IFISAs at that time.

Chief executive Stuart Law said: “Peer-to-peer lending – having started out as a financial initiative by the Government to help address the huge shortfall in business lending – has now grown to become one of the most viable forms of alternative finance in the UK.

“In the seven years that we’ve been operating we’ve continued to see low interest rates and insufficient business lending from the banks, and there are no signs of this changing any time soon. Our peer-to-peer model will continue to support economic growth through UK businesses and housebuilders in 2020 and beyond.

“What separates us, and other successful lenders, from those who haven’t succeeded over the years, is the deep lending and business experience of our team – we don’t do tick-box lending, nor lend by computer algorithms, but instead lend through career-long, real-world experience to sound borrowers.

“Having funded around one in 100 new homes built last year and supported many thousands of jobs, we have firmly established ourselves as one of most successful providers of much-needed income for investors, as well as being a much-needed funder of growing businesses and, in turn, the UK economy.”

Rebecca Hall, relationship director at Assetz Capital in the North West, said: “The North West has seen record levels of property development in recent years, especially with the increased migration of people to major cities like Manchester and Liverpool.

“The appetite for both residential and commercial property seems set to remain strong in the coming months, and we have plenty of funds to deploy in order to satisfy this demand across the North West.

“The region also plays host to some of the UK’s most innovative businesses, with particular strongholds in technology, life sciences and manufacturing, and we look forward to supporting more of these companies as we move towards our next milestone.”