Lending Works Review
** Lending Works review updated April 8th 2019 **
I made my first deposit in Lending Works on July 16th, 2015 so my fourth anniversary is fast approaching.
Lending Works offers peer to peer investment options via products that are protected by insurance to cover missed loan repayments due to borrower job loss, accidents, sickness, death, fraud or cybercrime. Lending Works is extremely simple to use. Deposit your money, select a three or five-year term, decide between reinvestment or two different withdrawal options, and set-and-forget.
Read more below for my unbiased exclusive Lending Works review.
My March 2019 Investment: Unchanged
My rate of return: 5.9% (Net return before tax)
|Est. Annual Returns:||Up to 6.5%
|Recent Return Rate Trend:||↑|
|My Risk Rating *:|
|Loan Types:||Consumer loans|
|Loan Security:||Loans are unsecured|
|Lender Fees:||Exit fee is 0.6% or £20 (whichever greater)|
|Min Investment:||Regular account: £100, (From April 2019) ISA: £100 (From April 2019)|
|Avg. Lender Portfolio Size:||£13,000|
|Time to Become Invested:||Varies based upon demand but can be about 10 days.|
|Time Needed Managing:||Low|
|Lending Agreements With:||Borrowers|
|Cashback Offer:||New lenders: £50 bonus when you invest £1,000+ investment in regular or ISA account|
|Sign Up||Sign Up Now|
* This opinion risk rating factors in types of loans offered, interest rates, platform history, default numbers and my own investing experience. My risk rating explained.
How Do I Sign Up?
Sign up here and as a Financial Thing reader, you’ll receive a £50 cashback bonus on a £1,000 deposit when you open a new regular or ISA account. Please read the terms and conditions on the sign-up page. (Lending Works pays me a small referral fee when you open an account through one of my links. This fee comes at no expense to you and when you sign up for an account through my website, it allows me to continue to operate this website).
Lending Works Review: What You Need To Know
- Very easy to use and hands-off
- Competitive lender return rates
- Auto reinvest
- Safety measures include provision fund and insurance
- High-quality borrower screening and underwriting
- Fully FCA authorised / offers ISA
- Low default and bad debt rates
- Exit options (based on demand)
- Lender return rates can fluctuate
- Loan matching times can fluctuate
- Early loan repayments can lead to cash drag due to matching times
- £10 min needed to reinvest interest payments
- Borrower APR % has been rising. Does this mean increasing risk?
- 0.6% early exit fee
- Reinvestment funds prioritized over new investments
- Some information tricky to find
Lending Works offers lenders peer to peer loans to creditworthy borrowers and is very picky who it lends to. Lending Works is unique in that not only does it have a provision fund which is paid for by loan borrowers, it also carries insurance to protect against defaults due to borrower job loss, accidents, sickness, death, fraud, and cybercrime.
Lending Works Review: My experiences so far….
I made my first deposit in Lending Works in July 2015 and have been happily investing through them ever since. Setup was very simple and I opted for the five-year term with automatic interest reinvestment. It’s such an easy set-and-forget website.
The biggest downside of Lending Works is it can take some time before your investment is deployed depending on how much lending money is ahead of yours in the queue. This queue is always based upon lending and borrowing demand and supply. I’ve found queued money takes about five to seven days to be invested. But of recent, queue times have been reduced from to three days.
The queue time is always transparently displayed under the Offers Tab on your investor dashboard.
Reinvestment money is always placed in priority over new deposits. New investment time frames have ranged from 2 to 20 days but reinvestments are prioritized over new investments so they can be a little quicker.
I’ve been very happy with Lending Works because it requires so little effort and the product does what it says on the tin. Interest rates are competitive so this makes Lending Works more attractive.
When Did Lending Works Launch?
Lending Works was founded in 2012 and started offering peer to peer lending in January 2014.
Are They Regulated?
Yes, by the Financial Conduct Authority #722801 under full permissions granted December 10th, 2016. Investments made through Lending Works are not covered under the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme).
FCA regulation is nothing like the FSCS, which covers consumers when they deposit money in banks. The FCA reports to the UK government and has the ability to pursue criminal action against companies which violate its standards and codes of conduct.
Lending Works’s Company Financial Health
Lending Works operated at a loss for 2017. You can view their company accounts here.
Who Can Open An Account?
Any UK resident or nonresident with a UK bank account.
What’s The Signup Process Like?
Relatively simple including the usual identification checks to make sure you aren’t a safe cracker.
How Are Deposits Made?
Via debit card or bank transfer
What’s The Minimum Investment?
£100 on regular or ISA accounts (Increasing from £10 min beginning mid-April, 2019)
Does Lending Works Offer An Innovative Finance ISA?
Yes. It launched in January 2017.
How Much Interest Does Lending Works Pay Lenders?
Rates vary week to week but the norm has been in the mid 6% range (five-year term) and 5% for the three-year term. Remember that idle money waiting to be invested does affect your returns negatively, (I estimate up to 0.25% per year), so your returns may be less than advertised.
When Is Interest Paid?
Interest payments are made to you when the borrower makes payments so therefore payments are staggered throughout the month.
What Are the Lending Works’s Bed Debt Rates?
Lending Works’s lifetime bad debt rates have been low:
Total since 2014: 2.7%
You can view all the statistics here.
What Are The Fees?
0.6% or £20 minimum fee for early exit of your investment. There may be additional fees if there is a difference between the loan rates you are selling and the current rates. For example, if your investment is at 6% and the new rates are at 6.5%, there would be some fees to balance the 0.5% rate spread. This is to prevent people from selling older investments to cash in on higher rates.
How Long Are The Investment Terms?
3 years or 5 years
How Are Loans Paid Back?
Principal and interest are paid monthly.
What Security Does Lending Works Use?
Currently, all loans are unsecured.
Is There A Secondary Market?
Lending Works will try to sell your loan pieces to other investors for a fee of 0.6% or £20 of your investment amount, whichever is greater. There may also be additional interest rate spread fees as explained above.
What Are The Main Risks?
Borrower default: Since all loans are unsecured, defaults are a concern. Lending Works attempts to lower the risk by strict borrowing requirements and default insurance.
Company failure: If Lending Works were to fail, they have a 3rd party in place to facilitate continued borrower to lender loan payments.
Economic downturn: Unsecured borrowers tend to be extremely vulnerable during economic downturns. When borrowers lose jobs, unsecured loans fall to the bottom of the priority list.
Borrower Quality: If Lending Works lowers its requirement and lends to lower quality borrowers, default rates could rise.
Is There A Provision Fund?
Yes. Borrowers pay a risk-assessed fee that is added to the fund and is designed to cover their payments should they fall behind or default.
Am I Lending To Lending Works The Platform Or To Borrowers?
All loan agreements are directly between lenders and borrowers.
What Really Happens If Lending Works Goes Out Of Business?
Lending Works states is has a 3rd party in place to facilitate continued borrower to lender loan payments if their business were to fail. In reality, as with every peer to peer lending company, no one can predict recovery amounts as there are many unknowns here, so only invest what you can afford to lose.
THUMBS UP FOR LENDING WORKS:
Ease of Use / Hands Off
Unlike some other peer to peer lending companies, Lending Works is very hands off which means less time glued to a computer screen.
Rates adjust weekly but have been holding steady for several months paying up to 6.5% on the five-year lending product and 5% on the three-year product.
Lending Works is a dream come true for those who want to be hands-off investors. Just choose from two simple reinvestment options and set and forget.
I consider Lending Works to be one of the lower risk peer to peer lending options. Lending Works stated that their quality of underwriting is higher and that their borrowers are well vetted and lower risk. They also provide a provision fund which is funded by borrowers and well-funded, and insurance is in place to cover loan payments in the event of borrower job loss, accidents, sickness, death, fraud, and cybercrime.
Remember there is risk in all forms of investing. However as long as Lending Works maintains its advertised high underwriting high standards, the company will probably remain one of the lower risk peer to peer lending companies.
High Quality Borrower Screening And Experienced Underwriting Team
It’s in Lending Works’s best interest to keep its defaults to a minimum and its experienced underwriting team accomplishes this by implementing high-quality borrower screening.
Fully FCA Authorised / Offers ISA
Lending Works passed its compliance checks and was one of the first peer to peer companies to offer lenders an ISA.
Low Default And Bad Default Rates
Since Lending Works screens their borrowers effectively and chooses lower risk customers, default and bad debt rates have been low which is good news for lenders.
Possible Easy Exit
Providing there are funds from other investors to purchase your loans, Lending Works will facilitate a sale for a fee of 0.6% or £20, whichever is higher. Remember, there may be additional exit fees if your investments are at lower rates than current rates.
Withdrawals & Payments
Capital and interest payments are credited promptly. Withdrawals are prompt, usually showing in your bank account in a day or two.
Click Lender Settings on the right side and you will be taken to the page where you select your reinvestment options:
Loan matching estimates are now shown on the dashboard page which is a really nice addition:
THUMBS DOWN FOR LENDING WORKS:
Sometimes A Delay In Deploying Money
Depending on changes in demand and supply, it can take some time for your new investments to be invested in loans. I’ve seen investment times range from two days to one month.
Since December of 2018, investments were taking 30 days to deploy but that time has been reduced to 3 days. In my experience, five days was my usual investment time. This delay in investing is known as “cash drag” meaning anytime your money isn’t earning you interest, it’s a drag on your returns.
Remember that queued reinvestments always take priority over new investments.
Early Loan Repayments Can Lead To Cash Drag Due To Matching Times
When investing larger sums of money, it is wise to consider drip feeding the money into loans over a period of time. Lending Works doesn’t offer lenders a way to limit how much money is placed into any single loan. For example, if you wanted to invest £5,000, that amount could be theoretically invested into two different £2,500 loans.
If a loan is repaid early, you could have a large portion of funds returned to the matching queue taking days to be reinvested. It is theoretically better to have 100 £50 loans than two £2,500 loans because the chances of your two loans being repaid early are much higher than the chances of 100 loans being repaid early. In order to receive 100 £50 loans, you would have to manually drip-feed £50 per day into your account which is a pain.
Lending Works does use their Protection Shield to diversify and equally cover lenders but it would be nice if, like Funding Circle, they offered lenders the ability to set their maximum allocation amounts to any single loan.
£10 min Needed To Reinvest Interest Payments (Starts Mid-April, 2019)
Lending Works will be changing their minimum investment from £10 to £100 and their minimum reinvestment from £1 to £10.
What this means to you is if you have invested £1,000 in the five-year product paying 6.5% per year, you’ll receive £0.18 per day. This means it will take 56 days for you to earn £10 in interest. This further means that your money won’t be reinvested into the queue for 56 days and if you add queue times, your returns will be reduced.
The solution here is to invest £1872 at 6.5% pa. to receive £10 in interest each month.
Borrower APR %’s Are On The Rise
When Lending Works first launched in 2014, their weighted APR to borrowers was 7.7%. In 2018 this figured was 12.1%. This leads to the question of whether the borrowers are being perceived as riskier or whether this is a business operational decision to become profitable?
Lending Works has a 0.6% base exit fee plus you may also face additional fees if interest rates are higher than your current investments. If you think you may need to access your money early, calculate these fees in your returns.
Reinvestment Funds In Queue Prioritised Over New Investments
This thumbs down is for those depositing new funds or switching their received capital and interest from withdrawing to reinvest. Reinvestment money is always at the front of the lending queue. Not a big negative but if you move funds to your wallet to withdraw and later decide you want to reinvest, the funds will be moved to the back of the lending queue.
Some Information Is Tricky To Find
One feature that really bugs me about Lending Works is the transaction history is difficult to find. No matter how many times I log in, I always forget where this information is located so I thought I would share to save you the headache.
Log into your lender dashboard and look at the bottom of the page:
Once you click the more button, you can scroll down the next page to the transaction details.
I began by investing a small amount in the five-year term and invested more as I became comfortable with the company. I use the five-year rate along with the set and forget auto reinvestment.
Rates are very competitive leading me to continue investing through Lending Works.
The Lending Works Review Conclusion
I continue to enjoy my investing experience through Lending Works as their lending return rates remain competitive. Their advertised high-quality borrowers, quality underwriting, low default rates, well-funded Provision Fund, and default insurances convinced me to invest with Lending Works.
Lending times were unusually long for the end of 2018 but this demand and supply issue has been addressed and lending times have been reduced.
The minimum reinvestment amount of £10 will reduce returns for those with smaller investment balances but this can be solved by but you as long as you investing a minimum of £1872 paying 6.5% returns annually.
If you are looking for a true set and forget investment that requires only a watchful eye and is relatively safe, Lending Works might be for you. Once you start investing in peer to peer lending, you will see how time-consuming it can be so Lending Works is a breath of fresh air.
Sign up here and as a Financial Thing reader, you’ll receive a £50 cashback bonus on a £1,000 deposit when you open a new regular or ISA account. Please read the terms and conditions on the sign-up page. (Lending Works pays me a small referral fee when you open an account through one of my links. This fee comes at no expense to you and when you sign up for an account through my website, it allows me to continue to operate this website.)
I update this review as changes occur. If you notice any errors or omissions, I invite you to contact me and let me know.
If you enjoyed my Lending Works review and want to learn more about peer to peer lending, click here and receive my complimentary Top 5 Peer to Peer Lending Sites Report.
Disclaimers: I’m not paid to write this Lending Works review nor am I employed by any of the companies I write about. In most cases, I have invested or continue to invest my own money in these companies. The sign-up links on this website are referral links. When you sign up for an account through my website, I receive a referral fee directly from the companies, at no cost to you. Your support enables me to continue to operate the Financial Thing website. You can read more about my referral links here.
This unbiased Lending Works review is for information purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Opinions expressed in this Lending Works review are based upon my investing experiences. All information was deemed to be correct at the time of writing. Peer to peer lending contains risks so never invest more than you can afford to lose.