With the return of the Conservatives to government many of their policies will see a ‘business as usual’ banner hoisted above them. Last year the Chancellor made a potentially game-changing commitment to include crowdfunding within the ISA wrapper. The crowdfunding industry has long asked for a separate ISA, one which is not treated as the same asset class as the renowned and respected Cash ISA, or even to the more complex Stocks and Shares ISA. It is obvious that P2P lending has its very own risk and reward profile, and consumers need to understand these nuances. This is exactly why having a separate crowdfunding ISA is so important. This was at first expected to focus on peer-to-peer lending only, however in the pre-election budget Mr Osborne dropped the major hint that it may also include equity. There’s a new kid in town, and his/her name is the crowdISA.
Who will start using the crowdISA?
There is a survey by the esteemed P2P Finance Association bouncing around which suggests that 62% of British savers would consider using crowdfunding as a mechanism to get returns. They would however need their returns to be tax free, something that should take place next year. In effect this idea of alternative finance being ‘alternative’ is about to change. With the incoming crowdISA there is swiftly becoming very little ‘alternative’ about this sector. Crowdfunding will go mainstream.
5 reasons why this matters
1. Well firstly it will enable helping savers and investors choose how they make the most of their funds. Once an individual properly understands risk, personal choice in personal finance should be something everyone aspires to have.
2. The new crowdISA would help retail consumers choose how they use their tax-free savings pot each year, allocating up to their £15,000 annual limit.
3. If even a fraction of the £500bn+ of funds held by ISAs enter into the realm of crowdfunding, then we are looking at a truly monumental step in the development market, one that will only help crowdfunding become a more mainstream choice for consumers.
4. Savers broadly understand what ISAs are. The entry of crowdfunding into the big savings tool will transform the public’s awareness of crowdfunding. More investors will enter the market as a consequence, as will SMEs. It’s a true win-win for the sector.
5. The crowdISA will further demonstrate how the UK is leading the world of fintech, innovation and alternative finance.
How will this impact the crowdfunding industry?
It is safe to say that this will spark a major growth spurt for the crowdfunding sector. The crowdISA would open up choice for savers, reinvigorate the ISA market and give savers a higher return on their investments, all while allowing balanced diversification to take place through lending across 100 of different sites and companies. With savers also not paying tax on any returns, the rates crowdfunding can give will start to look even more attractive. Now bear in mind that figure we stated earlier that 62% of savers would consider using a crowdISA, that’s a huge game-changer for this industry. Money.co.uk recently discovered only 6% of savers had used peer-to-peer, showing the massive opportunity just waiting to be tapped. Crowdfunding may just be growing up.
What should interested investors remember?
There are great returns to be made through crowdfunding, however savers should not be tempted by attention grabbing interest rates. Instead a policy of diversification across crowdfunding sites, asset types and businesses is ultra-necessary. It is likely that the crowdISA will initially be used by those more comfortable and understanding of the risks involved. There is a place for savers who understand these risks, and therefore look to fully diversify and protect themselves versus any losses. Supermarkets like investUP can help here, enabling savers to hold a crowdISA across peer-to-peer and equity classes, multiple crowdfunding sites and 100s of businesses. This time next year we will hopefully be saying: the ISA is dead, long live the crowdISA.