Lendy Peer To Peer Lending Review
** Lendy review updated May 2nd, 2019 **
After more than three years of investing my own money, I’ve experienced a troubling amount of defaults so I decided Lendy has become a too higher risk to invest through. 40% of my loans are now either past due or in default so I can no longer recommend investing through Lendy until they can solve these issues.
My April 2019 Investment: Unchanged
My annual rate of return: 6.9% (Net return after bad debt and fees but before tax)
|Est. Annual Returns:||5% - 12%
|Recent Rate Trend:||↓|
|My Risk Rating *:|
|Early Exit:||✓ (Slow due to high selling supply)|
|Loan Types:||Property development and bridging|
|Loan Security:||Property and land|
|Provision Fund:||Yes, balance targeting 2% of loan book|
|Time to Become Invested:||Usually fast but can depend on loan availability|
|Time Needed Managing:||Medium / High|
|Cashback:||New customers receive £50 cashback on the investment of £1000 (see terms on signup page)|
|Sign Up:||Sign Up For A Free Account|
* 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? Any Cashback Offers?
Sign up for a Lendy account and receive £50 cashback. (See terms on signup page. When you open an account through my website it helps me to continue to operate and offer reviews).
The Lendy Review – What You Need To Know:
- Up to 1% return paid to lenders monthly when loans are in good standing
- Interest bonuses accrued on late loans
- All loans secured by property / land
- Some default recovery history
- Lendy collects entire loan term interest from borrower
- Secondary market for lenders to buy and sell loans
- Currently under FCA activity restriction
- Large number of defaulted loans / past their end date
- High-interest rate property bridging and development loans can be risky
- Company has lent to questionable assets
- Several borrower provided RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) valuations have been questionable
- Some loans slow to be classified as non-performing
- Defaulted loans cannot be bought or sold on secondary market
- Due diligence and time is needed to identify quality loans
- Loans stop earning interest when you place for sale on secondary market
- All eggs in property basket
- Need funds in account to purchase secondary market loans
Lendy allows you to invest in property development loans but be very aware that property bridging and development loans can be very high risk so while due diligence is recommended, even this cannot safeguard lenders’ from choosing loans that may default.
Lendy: My experiences so far….
I have been investing through Lendy since June 2015. I knew Lendy offered higher risk loans but I was prepared to accept the extra risk for the higher return possibilities. I’ve invested in a variety of loans but due to the increase in defaults, my return rate has dropped significantly and I have refrained from buying any new loans as I want to see the outcomes on the default recoveries before committing further funds.
As the defaults have increased on my portfolio, my returns continue to fall.
At this time, I do not invest further with Lendy as the company is experiencing many problems including restricted activities by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Let’s Address The Defaults
If you are Lendy investor, you will know about the large amount of defaulted loans. Most lenders’ are feeling very uneasy and rightfully so.
Property defaults are always concerning for peer to peer lenders as the recovery time can be complicated, expensive and lengthy and can sometimes result in a loss of capital and interest. Am I concerned about the defaults? Yes. I’ve been watching the Lendy situation for a while and at this point, my faith in Lendy is very much diminished.
One of the largest loans on Lendy has run into some difficulties that have lenders grumbling. The recovery efforts on the £14m defaulted loan could result in lenders losing some of their capital.
I have read the negative online comments written by some of Lendy’s lenders. Some lenders are unhappy with certain loan offerings and the RICS valuations provided while others have built up unreasonable expectations of peer to peer property bridging loans as a whole. The golden early days of 12% annual returns have passed as loan books mature and the true risks of high-interest bridging financing come to light.
When I began investing property backed bridging loans, I knew the risk. High interest borrowers can’t qualify for standard bank loans so peer to peer lending is a good alternative for them. I do try to remember that higher risk borrowers are higher risk for a reason. Usually, it is either they have no credible development history or have a black market on their previous credit history.
As a peer to peer lender, I have to take personal responsibility where I place my money and I always have a choice where to invest.
I am disappointed that Lendy underwrote so many nonperforming loans and I was wrong about some of the loans I thought were good investments. I do expect Lendy to do its due diligence in order to protect my interests but I know it’s ultimately my responsibility to trust but verify all information including RICS valuations.
I was also disappointed to learn that Lendy used their Provision Fund as security to obtain working capital. Basically, this means Lendy borrowed money against their Provision Fund. Provision Funds, while discretionary, are usually free-standing funds used to cover late payments or defaulted interest. I find the practice of borrowing against this asset troubling.
Lendy has become a victim of their own accelerated growth. Lendy made a multi-million-pound profit during a single year of trading, highly unusual for a startup peer to peer company. One has to wonder if this profit was made from fees underwriting poor quality loans that other companies wouldn’t underwrite.
Many of Lendy’s executive staff and board members have left the company including COO’s Robert Kelly and David Gammon, Communications Office Paul Riddell and CFO Paul Thompson.
Successful Repayments And Default Recoveries
Loan DFL008: 100% of the £9,857,594 loan amount was repaid on December 13th, 2018 after the loan was two months past due
DFL027: 100% of the £3,448,289 loan was repaid on December 6th, 2018 after the loan was two months past due.
PBL120: 100% of the £651,886 loan was repaid on May 24th, 2018 after the loan became late in 2017.
Less Successful Default And Repayment Recoveries
Loan PBL001: This £5.98m loan became past due in July 2017 and receivers were appointed in September 2017. As of December 2018, the loan remains unrecovered.
DFL004: This £14.3m defaulted loan ran into issues in mid-2018. The loan remains unrecovered but is now in administration.
PBL017: This £7.45m loan ran into trouble in September 2017 and was appointed a receiver. As of December 2018, the loan remains unrecovered.
Lendy has also recently taken control of one of its larger loan projects (£10m loan) after it was deemed that the borrower couldn’t provide a viable solution to complete the project in the best interest of lenders.
Lendy publishes updates to each of its loans individually within the lenders’ dashboard and a full loan book review is available within the FAQ section.
In case you missed it, I interviewed CEO Liam Brooke and Paul Riddell. You can watch the interview here.
What Is Lendy?
Lendy is a peer to peer lending company that offers secured property bridging and development loans. A bridging loan is a short-term loan given to a property developer while they attempt to refinance while development loans are longer given to complete work whilst refinancing is sought.
Lendy’s loans are given to the borrower at rates up to 1.5% per month. Bridging and development loans are common in the real estate investment world. All loans are secured by the property or land being loaned against, In the event of a loan default, Lendy attempts to sell the security in order to cover lenders capital and interest.
When Did Lendy Launch?
Who Can Open An Account?
Any person 18 years or older who can pass the verification checks. Even U.S. citizens are welcome to apply.
What’s The Signup Process Like?
They run the usual i.d. checks with additional documental requirements if needed.
Are They Regulated?
Yes, by the Financial Conduct Authority #622666 under full permissions. Investments made through Lendy 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.
Lendy is currently under an FCA activity restriction. This restriction states Lendy isn’t allowed to dispose of, deal with or dimish the value of any of its assets, or release any client money without the written consent of the FCA.
What’s The Minimum Deposit / Investment?
Deposit: Minimum £100 via bank transfer for your first deposit
Loans: £100 minimum for pre-funding on new loans and £1 minimum on secondary market loans
What Investment Products Does Lendy Offer?
Lendy offers one lending product. Lending on bridging and development loans.
How Much Interest Does Lendy Pay Lenders?
Most loans pay 1% per month but return rates range from 9-12% per year when loans are current. Lendy also pays bonuses on loans that are past their term date or in default.
Since most loans are now in default investors (myself included) are experiencing much lower returns.
Is Interest Paid Immediately Or When the Loan Starts?
On new loans as soon as the loan is drawn down, interest starts to accrue. On secondary market loans, interest begins from the moment you click the purchase button.
Interest isn’t paid on defaulted loans.
When Is Interest Paid?
First business day of each month
What Are The Fees?
No fees to lenders
How Much Time Is Needed Managing My Account and Investments?
Because bridging and development loans are higher risk and not all loans are of equal quality, I have to spend time performing due diligence. When Lendy loans were in good standing, some lenders spent very little time researching loans and prefered to diversify across as many loans as they could buy. This used to be my strategy until the secondary market became less liquid. I then only invested in loans I planned to hold until maturity. My new strategy was, unfortunately, time-consuming.
If I were still recommending investing through Lendy loans which I’m not, I would suggest one take the heavy due diligence route on loans before investing because it only takes one mistake to learn a painful default lesson. Remember however that all the research in the world doesn’t guarantee a loan won’t run into trouble.
How Long Are The Loans?
3-12 months but loans are often extended or can be paid off early.
Why Are So Many Lendy Loans Past Due / Defaulted?
Loan defaults are the bad part of peer to peer lending. It’s normal to experience some defaults but Lendy is dealing with a larger amount. Currently, 40% of my loans are either past term or in default. While this situation is less than ideal, I’m interested to see how effective Lendy’s recovery process is.
I believe that in an effort to grow quickly, Lendy made some lending mistakes by offering loans to high-risk borrowers that the banks wouldn’t consider.
Defaulted loans can happen for any number of reasons and even the best looking loans on paper can run into problems. Past due loans tend to be quite common in the property bridging lending world as developers often experience delays financing. If you’ve ever applied for a loan or for planning permission, you’ll know decision time frames can vary dramatically. Lendy often negotiates extended loan terms with borrowers and while this is occurring, some loans run past due.
Property developments often over-run projected time frames of development, refinancing and sale, hence the overdue loans. Other loans simply go bad and run into financial problems or management issues.
Some peer to peer companies underwrite bad loans just to keep their new loan pipeline filled to keep investors happy.
When considering peer to peer lending, remember that when a lender is being paid 12% interest, borrowers are paying much more than this because of the estimated risk.
What Security Does Lendy Loan Against?
All loans are secured against property or land. Lendy used to loan against boats and other items but they veered away from these types of loans in favor of property developments. The loan-to-value ratios of the securities range from 11-70%.
What Are The Main Risks?
Company Failure: If Lendy fails, investors could see losses although there are many unknown variables so no one knows how lenders would fare on the outcome.
High Borrower Rates / Lender Returns / Borrower Default: With high returns comes higher risk. Up to 12% annual returns to investors mean the borrower is paying 1.5%+ monthly. High borrowing rates mean the loans can be high risk and the risk of default is always present. Lendy recently starting offering lower interest return paying loans but I’m not sure these loans are any less risky than the 12% paying loans.
Valuation Errors: If Lendy or its vendors over-value a piece of property and the borrower defaults, investors may lose money if the property sells for less than the loan balance. Lendy has informed me that they carry valuation insurance which holds third parties liable if valuation mistakes are made. Valuations are often subjective, especially in regards to land, so I’m usually sceptical of the accuracy of valuations and look for loans with reasonable loan-to-values.
Underwriting Standards: If Lendy loosens its credit standards, defaults could rise substantially. Lenders place great amounts of trust in Lendy’s ability to provide lenders with quality loans. In the past, some lenders’ have expressed dissatisfaction because loans they perceived as unworthy were potentially offered on the platform and then withdrawn.
Property Market Downturn: The Brexit vote result triggered a secondary market loan glut as lenders became nervous about possible declines in property values. Lendy even suspended and cancelled upcoming loans. This event highlighted how a single economic event can affect peer to peer lending. If the market downturns, property values could decrease and a defaulted property sale could recoup less than the loan amount and expenses; resulting in lender losses.
Sector Specific: Being heavy in the real estate sector is risky should a downturn occur. Defaults could increase and property values could fall.
Is There A Provision Fund?
Yes. The discretionary fund aims to hold a balance equal to 2% of the entire Lendy loan book total. The fund committee, made up of Lendy’s Directors, decide on when and if the fund is used to make up shortfalls on defaulted loans or late payments.
I am unsure of the status of this Fund.
Am I Lending To Lendy Or To Borrowers?
All new loans are ring-fenced and some of the older loans are too (when Lendy deems it necessary). This means investors are lending directly to borrowers rather than to Lendy; good news for lenders.
What Happens If Lendy Goes Out of Business?
From time to time, businesses fail. When a peer to peer company fails, many problems occur. We can look at Collateral’s failure as an example. Collateral was taken over by administrators in June 2018 and almost one year later, investors haven’t seen any funds returned to them. Recovering a peer to peer companies assets through an administrator is very expensive and time-consuming.
Lendy has provisions in place in case they cease to trade. Direct from Lendy’s website:
“If our platform were to fail or we and/or Lendy Security Holding become insolvent we would transfer our obligations under the Terms and the Loan Contract to a third party back up servicer, with whom we have entered into a back up servicing arrangement.”
Not much information on the website but the Lendy people have explained that third-party companies are in place (as per FCA regulation) to wind down all loans if Lendy ceased trading. While a total loss is unlikely, don’t invest more than you are comfortable losing.
WHAT I (USED TO) LIKE ABOUT LENDY:
High Paying Lender Returns
In the era of ultra low interest bank rates, 12% annual returns are attractive if the loans stay current which isn’t happening at the moment. Interest payments are made on the first business day of the month and can usually be reinvested in secondary market loans. All my owed current loan payments have been received on time.
On loans which go beyond the term and become designated as IA (Interest Accruing), lenders receive an interest rate bonus. This rewards lenders’ who are willing to take some extra risk on a loan that could be headed for default. Instead of being paid on the loan monthly, you will potentially receive the interest and bonuses after the loan is paid off or recovered. There is also a possibility you won’t receive the interest depending on the amount recovered. The secondary market shows the total monthly interest (including bonus) that a loan pays:
New Loan Prefunding
As more lenders joined Lendy, demand outstripped supply and loans became harder to buy. This meant that not only did you need to be logged in at the exact time of a new loan being posted, but you needed some fast fingers. Some of the smaller loans would be sold in seconds with larger loans filling in just a few minutes.
Lendy combatted the endless lender grumbles by introducing pre-funding on new loans. Pre-funding of new loans doesn’t require you to have the money in your account. After you receive your loan allocation, you must pay Lendy within 24 hours or they will release your allocation. This innovation bypasses one of the biggest inconveniences lenders have to suffer on most peer to peer lending platforms: the dreaded bank to platform deposit wait.
One thing to note is if you use the platform credit to buy newly issued loan pieces, you cannot sell those loan pieces for seven days if you used the credit feature. This is to prevent people from gaming the system and buying more than they need.
Here is how to set your pre-funding request from the Loans page:
Lendy now allows you to set your pre-funding separately for each interest rate they offer:
This pre-funding setting allows Lendy to gauge lender interest for the different loan types.
Loan allocation always depends on demand and supply so you never quite know how much your assigned amount will be. Based on my own experiences, here’s what I’ve received:
You can see that for larger loans, you will generally be assigned your total pre-funding request but this could change as more investors come on board.
If lender demand is high, Lendy uses a bottom up pre-funding system for loans under £1m, where the smaller sum investors are allocated their pre-funding amounts before larger investors. Some readers have reported struggles trying to lend larger amounts of money due to the bottom up system, (see more in my dislike section).
Loan Repayment History
Lendy has a proven history of loan repayment. As of October 2018, £184m in loans have been repaid including a £7.92 million development loan that was repaid 21 days prior to maturation. While past results are no guarantee of the future, large loan repayments like this add to my investor confidence in Lendy’s operations.
Loan Status Clearly Displayed
On the available loans page, the status can be easily seen;
Here is what the abbreviations mean (You can also hover over the ? symbol for an explanation.):
IOA: Interest On Account
This is the interest paid upfront by the borrower to service the loans monthly interest payment. This means the loan is in good standing.
IA: Interest Accruing
Once a loan goes past its maturity date, it is designated as an IA loan. Interest accrues as a credit on lenders account but is not paid until it is recovered from the borrower through the disposal of the security. This means the loan is either in negotiation to be paid off or extended, or is on its way to defaulting. If you buy an IA loan on the secondary market, sometimes bonuses are offered which amount to a 50% extra interest. For example, if an IA designated loan pays 1% per month, an IA loan with a bonus would pay 1.5% per month.
Secondary Market For Buying
Lendy’s secondary market is very easy to use. Demand and supply heavily impact the way the secondary market behaves. For example, after the June 2016 Brexit vote, there was a glut of loans for sale but that phase quickly passed and by December 2016, there was barely any loans for sale.
The secondary market usually has loans for sale but has experienced a liquidity slow down since Lendy now requires lenders to have the funds in their accounts to buy secondary market loans. Since bank transfer deposits can take time, a loan piece may not be available by the time your money is credited to your account.
Lendy has attempted to address the liquidity issue by offering bonuses interest rates on loans which are close to term or in default. I’m not sure this is having much of an impact on the liquidity of the secondary market so for now, I only buy loans I’m willing to hold it to the end. Previously, secondary market loans could be bought on good faith credit so the market was very liquid.
You can sell any amounts of your loan pieces for free. I’ve found that if I place a high demand loan piece for up sale, it usually sells quickly. Loans with high queue amounts (see below) can take weeks to sell.
In the past, many lenders bought more loans than they intended to keep and sold their unwanted parts on the secondary market when newer loans became available. Lendy has addressed this problem with rules preventing lenders from buying more of a loan than they intend to keep. If a lender uses account credit to obtain new loans and doesn’t have enough money in his account to pay for the new loan pieces, the lender cannot sell any of the new loan parts for seven days. If a lender has enough money in their account to buy the new loan allocations without using the credit system, this seven-day limitation doesn’t apply.
This rule prevents lenders from requesting larger pre-funding amounts of new loans with the intent on selling existing loans to pay for the new loan parts.
Back to the secondary market. You can sell all of your loan or just a portion. Once you place a loan for sale, it is immediately available to other lenders:
The capital and interest in paid into your account as soon as your loan piece is sold. Simple.
This secondary market has been working well for buying loans, but selling loans can be challenging if demand is low. If a property downturn or recession occurred, a mass exodus of investors could make loan exits impossible.
One downside to the secondary market is when you place a loan part for sale, you immediately stop receiving interest. If your loan part takes weeks or months to sell, you won’t receive any interest payments. I think this is a bit cheeky on Lendy’s part since they will still receive the interest payment. I think it’s better not to receive interest for a period of time than to be stuck with a bad loan.
An excellent feature is when you click to sell a loan part, there is loan queue amount displayed so you know how much is for sale before your parts will be sold:
This feature allows you to decided whether to sell your loan pieces or wait until the queue decreases.
All loans are secured by property at loan-to-values of less than 70%. Some loans are also secured by personal guarantees but I don’t believe pg’s hold much value. In the event of a loan default, the security could be repossessed and hopefully sold to recover losses.
While having security is good, it’s important to understand which security is good and which is questionable. For example, selling a farm or a piece of vacant land can be more difficult than selling a house. Also, the lower loan to value deals are only better if the valuations are accurate. There have been some RICS valuations that have been very optimistic.
Entire Loan Term Interest Payments Are Collected Upfront
For example, if a loan is given to a borrower for 12 months and the interest payments are £10,000 per month, £120,000 is collected from the borrower in advance. This ensures lenders can be paid for the full 12 months. It’s an extra level of security for lenders.
Payments & Withdrawals
Interest payments are paid on the first of each month and have always been on time. Withdrawals are timely, usually landing in my bank account within 12-24 hours during business days.
Lendy has recently seen the error of its lack of communication ways as a result of angry lenders’ who are desperate for information of defaulted loan recovery. I’ve been receiving regular email updates highlighting actions being taken to resolve Lendy’s default issues. While talk is cheap, regular communications are a step in the right direction to regaining investor trust.
WHAT I DISLIKE ABOUT LENDY:
Under FCA Restrictions
Due to Lendy’s default issues, the company has been put on financial activity restrictions by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). What this means is Lendy cannot withdraw client funds without the FCA’s written consent, nor can they dispose of, deal with or devalue any assets.
Lendy hasn’t commented on this restriction so I’ll hazard a guess that the FCA is concerned about Lendy’s operation and placed the restriction on Lendy to protect investors.
Defaults are usually normal within peer to peer lending however, Lendy has more than most companies. While Lendy has stated they are attempting to address this issue, the high amounts of defaulted loans are concerning to the point where I won’t invest any further.
If you still want to fearlessly invest through Lendy and don’t have much time to do loan due diligence, it’s essential to diversify across many loans and not to be tempted to put too much money into any one loan.
Increasing Number Of Loans Are Past Term
An increasing number of loans are past their repayment due date but not in default. Past term loans either are refinanced, brought current or end up in default.
The Lower Paying Interest Rate Loans
Lendy has started offering lower return paying loans in the 7 to 10% range but these have proven to be less popular. I’m not sure these loans are less risky than the loans that pay 12% so I tend not to invest in them unless I’m sure the security is valued correctly. The lower paying loans are a direct result of increased lending competition between the different peer to peer lending companies.
Secondary Market For Selling
When you place a loan for sale on the secondary market, interest stops accruing immediately. This can be a drag on your returns if your loan takes weeks to sell, so keep this in mind if you are selling a loan which has a large queue.
Lendy currently only offers real estate loans so if the property market goes down the spout, this could put a severe strain on its business model and lenders funds. It would have been interesting to see how Lendy would have fared during 2007-2010 property decline. It’s important to diversify across different lending sectors so a downturn doesn’t hurt your returns too badly.
High Interest Rates For Borrowers = Higher Risk
Paying high interest returns to investors means Lendy charges its borrowers up 1.5% per month. This increases the risk of default.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how risky peer to peer bridging lending really is but remember, 12% returns means higher risk.
Due Diligence And Research Time Is Needed To Identify The Good Loans
I highly recommend reading each loan valuation document and performing your own due diligence on loans. Researching the borrowers’ names and companies can uncover interesting information about past debt, bankruptcies and development experience. Unfortunately researching loans does take some time but it can help reduce your investment risk and is well worth the time.
I have ceased investing further through Lendy as I await the outcomes of the defaulted loans which I’m invested in. When I first began investing in Lendy, the secondary market was a beautiful feature since you were able to buy and sell loans very easily. Now the need to have funds in your account and the high number of defaulted loans have dramatically slowed the secondary market for selling.
Post Brexit loan supply has highlighted the reality of how lenders may not be able to sell loan pieces during economic changes. Lendy’s high levels of loan defaults remind me it’s essential not to be tempted to over-invest in any single loan. The key to Lendy (and every peer to peer platform) is diversification and if you have the time, loan due diligence.
Lendy used to be a popular higher risk investment for anyone looking to lend money within the property bridging sector. 12% interest paying bridging and development loans are prone to defaults so don’t be surprised by this, especially during unstable economic times.
Defaults are the biggest issue Lendy is currently facing, so much so that the FCA has placed restrictions on regulated activities.
A reader asked me if I were a new investor, would I invest through Lendy today? I would have to say not until the default issues are sorted out. The default situation is troubling but I’m still hopeful for recoveries. I am exiting the loans I believe may be headed for future trouble.
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** This unbiased Lendy review is for information purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Opinions expressed in this Lendy 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. **