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Octopus launches new online lending product to help financial advisers unlock potential of P2P

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Octopus Investments is working with UK financial advisers to launch a new online lending product – Octopus Choice – which will provide a middle ground between saving and stock market investing.

By investing in a discretionary managed portfolio of asset-backed loans, customers will target higher interest rates than deposit accounts, but with less risk and volatility than stocks and shares.
 
The product launches on the back of the rapid growth and continued government support of ‘peer-to-peer (P2P) lending’ – with the recent launch of the ‘Innovative Finance Individual Savings Account (ISA)’ confirming its entry to the mainstream market. The new ISA allows interest generated through qualifying P2P products to be included within the tax-free wrapper, as well as permitting transfers of existing ISA balances.
 
All qualified financial advisers have had the scope of their investment permissions automatically widened to include online lending products, but uptake has so far been limited, and many advisers remain sceptical of the opportunity they present. Octopus Choice represents the first meaningful move to engage the adviser community in the development of this fast-growing market, having been developed in close co-operation with a number of financial advisers.
 
Simon Rogerson (pictured), CEO of Octopus Investments, says: “The growth of peer-to-peer lending shows no sign of stopping, and the sector presents a powerful opportunity for financial advisers to add value to their clients. But it’s currently being overlooked – and we want to change this. By working with the adviser community, we hope to help advisers play a central role in shaping the market as it continues to grow, developing a product that solves real needs for their clients.
 
“Because over the past few years, we’ve been hearing advisers ask the same question: how can I help my clients generate better returns than savings accounts, without over-exposing them to the ups and downs of the stock market? We think Octopus Choice offers an attractive solution, which can empower more and more people to make their money work harder for them.”
 
Investments into Octopus Choice will initially be allocated to loans secured against residential property – harnessing the company’s strong dealflow and successful track record of property lending through its Dragonfly Property Finance business. Since its launch in 2009, Dragonfly has made nearly 3,500 loans, totalling nearly GBP1.9 billion – of which less than 0.1 per cent has gone unrecovered.
In line with its long-standing commitment to aligning its own interests with those of its customers, Octopus will also invest in each and every loan, on a ‘first loss’ basis.
 
“Not only does this show you just how confident we are in the quality of the underlying loans – it also provides investors with an extra layer of protection,” Rogerson adds. “We want to put our money where our mouth is.”
 
For those advisers looking to reduce exposure to equities, the product presents a stable and uncorrelated asset class that can diversify their clients’ investment portfolios without compromising on returns. The payment of monthly interest also gives clients a new way to generate a regular income from their savings.
 
In addition, Octopus Choice will provide advisers with the potential to develop new income streams. Facilitating both up-front and ongoing fees, it will allow them to broaden the scope of their advice to include some of their client’s deposits that are earning low levels of interest in savings accounts or cash ISAs – money which, until now, advisers have been ill-equipped to serve.

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