London based VCT and EIS specialist Downing - currently managing over £700 million in assets - has launched a new crowdfunding platform specifically targeting advised clients using Edinburgh based software specialist ShareIn. Julia Groves, founding chair of the UK Crowdfunding Association, will lead the push into the alternative finance space via new brand called www.downingcrowd.co.uk.
The new platform will launch with a one year crowdfunded renewable energy bond and will be run using platform technology by ShareIn. ShareIn, which specialises in equity crowdfunding software, says the new platform marks the first time its technological infrastructure has been used to crowdfund for a bond.
CEO, Jude Cook says: “We are thrilled to be working with Downing to deliver this crowdfunded renewable energy bond. It’s the first time our platform has been used for bonds and it marks a significant addition to our product offering.”
Julia Groves, founding chair of the UK Crowdfunding Association and former Trillion Fund CEO, will lead Downing’s crowdfunding team: “Speed to market and the ability to customise the platform for Downing’s products and customers were the key criteria in selecting ShareIn. They have been super responsive, and got us out before our competitors, without charging an arm and a leg,” said Groves.
Downing chief executive Tony McGing said:“Downing will open up this market to investors who are keen to participate, but want the reassurance that the opportunities have been assessed by their normal advisers and are brought to market by a highly respected provider. Downing will provide those advisers with both the information and the incentive they need to do so.”
This is potentially a big new development within the crowdfunding space as it represents the first big move into the sector by an established asset manager using their own brand. Downing have built a loyal following amongst advisers via their range of VCTs, EIS products and mainstream open ended funds, so they should be able to quickly capture interest from IFAs.
It’s also interesting to note that Downing’s initial product appears to be a one-year renewable bond – an area that Groves has a lot of experience via Trillion. It’ll be interesting to see how the short duration for this new bond will compete with products from established players such as Abundance whose products usually tend to feature much longer durations.