Fintech Q&A with WiseAlpha!


(Simon B) #1

Hey all! We’re back with another Fintech Q&A!

Later this week, we’ll have the CEO Rezaah Ahmed here with us.

Let’s find out a little bit about the company!

Founded in 2014, WiseAlpha have received £3.65m in funding to date, including a £1.25 million crowdfunding round last year using CrowdCube! :raised_hands:t4:

They are the UK’s first and only fixed income platform giving everyday investors and savers access to corporate bonds issued in the institutional debt market.

For Rezaah, having started his career in banking, structuring corporate loans and then moving on to invest in the loans themselves, it has always amazed him just how archaic the functioning of the corporate debt market is in comparison to other financial markets. What if the credit markets were as liquid and transparent as the equity markets?

And so, the company was born with the idea of bringing an online marketplace to the corporate debt markets and giving equality of access to investors of all sizes but crucially doing so in a transparent and responsible manner.

They have some product launches coming in the next few weeks as well, which I’m hoping Rezaah will talk to us about :grinning:

They won Best Investments Provider at the 2018 British Bank Awards and have had great coverage from Bloomberg, City AM, Forbes and MoneyWeek amongst others :raised_hands:t4:

Their platform allows easy investing into Senior Secured asset companies like Virgin Media and McLaren, as well as high-yield unsecured bonds such as Metro Bank, OakNorth and AMC Cinemas :grinning:

Have a read here of how it works, and let’s get some questions in for Rezaah to answer later this week :grinning:


#2

Does Wisealpha provide investors with a way to follow an ethical policy, so they can avoid fossil fuels, companies with poor employment and procurement practices etc?


#3

Why it’s not too good to be true (based on graph below from your website) - Explain in plain English please :slight_smile:


(Simon B) #4

Will you be building a mobile app to compliment the web-based service? :grinning:


#5

Hi Rezaah :wave:
Only just started investing with Freetrade, so bonds are only something I’ve given a cursory look at. What are the positives and negatives of corporate bonds over shares and ETF investment? Is there a known industry average of borrower defaults and what would be the rate in the bonds that you deal with?


(Simon B) #6

What do Partnerships look like at WiseAlpha and what companies would you love to partner with?


(Jack) #7

What are the benefits to using your service over other such as Wealthify or Freetrade?

It’s something that I’m considering.

The marketplace model seems to be something that everyone’s trying to do. With so many companies trying to jump onboard do you feel there’s enough to go around?


#8

All the IFISA providers I have seen focus on personal loans, small business loans, and property loans. You deal in loan and bond investments in large corporations. Are these eligible for IFISA? If so, do you plan to offer IFISA accounts?


#9

Hey Rezaah! :wave:

I’m interesting in this quote from Simon:

I’m afraid I’m not an expert in this area so I understand each word individually but strung together in a sentence I begin to struggle for meaning!

Could you help me out with what this means practically? And specifically, what does ‘fixed income’ mean in this context? Would you mind giving us the dummy’s guide to ‘corporate bonds’ (and ‘institutional debt market’) at all? :slight_smile:


#10

Hi. Can the value of the bonds increase and decrease and if so what value would I expect to see at maturity?


(Rezaah Ahmad) #11

Hi Gaoler, investors on our site can choose their own companies to invest in so if you don’t like oil & gas companies like Centrica and Petrobras for example you can choose not to invest in them! We give you the control to make your own portfolio. Even with the release of our automated investing service next week (Wednesday) you can tell your robo-manager to exclude certain industries or companies!

I hope that helps.

Rezaah


(Rezaah Ahmad) #12

Hi SC95,

Ha, yes let me explain! The graph shows a range of different interest/return across different products. So cash ISAs and five year term bonds with banks are low return because savers with banks are protected by the Financial Service compensation scheme (up to £85,000 per financial institution you hold your money with). Hence the banks offer low rates.

Investments such as equities, P2P and bonds carry a risk to your capital (and the value can go up or down) and are not covered by the FSCS - therefore the potential returns have to be higher for the risk.

We are opening up the corporate bond asset class (a big diversity in the types of bonds) to every day investors because we think corporate bonds offer great value versus other investment products like equities and Peer-to-Peer.

Returns on our market for various bonds vary between 3-15% approximately (see here https://www.wisealpha.com/market/) and when it comes to the Smart Interest bonds we offer (WiseAlpha manages the investments) provide interest rates of between 3-8% for terms between 1 and 7 years. In our asset class it is not uncommon to make 5-8% on average over the medium term but it’s important you remember that the returns aren’t guaranteed which is why the potential returns are higher.

If you want more info on bonds and understanding the risk/returns our guide here is super helpful! (https://www.wisealpha.com/investor-guide)


(Rezaah Ahmad) #13

Hi Simon,

Yes absolutely we will be building our app next year! :grinning:

Tips from Monzo (amazing product by the way:sunglasses:) appreciated!

Rezaah

Hi Rat_au_van

Great, that you are starting to invest in equities and taking an interest in bonds as well. In fact many public companies like Ocado, Tesco, The AA and others have bonds which you can get exposure to from our market. The topic of bonds vs. equities is quite big but here are a few key things to think about:

  • Bonds provide investors with greater certainty of the income and returns they expect to make over a certain period of time i.e. there is a fixed interest of [x] every year and you expect your capital back at the maturity of the bond
  • Bonds have much lower price volatility than shares
  • They are lower risk because they rank ahead of shares in terms of repayment and bonds have a contractual date when they have to be paid back by the company. That’s why you see dividends on equities cut or shareholders lose money versus bondholders when a company under-performs. To use an analogy bondholders are like the VIP’s in first class on a plane and equity holders are like those sitting in economy class. The VIPs are treated better and have a more comfortable ride!

Check out our blog and our guide again for an overview:
WiseAlpha Blog

Overview of bonds

In terms of defaults, according to Credit Suisse (2017) in the last 7 years the annual default rate for Western European high yield bonds has ranged between 0.5% and 1.4% per annum. But the average recovery has been around 30% for unsecured and 70% for secured bonds (i.e. bonds also secured against assets). Because there are only hundreds of corporate issuers this means defaulting isn’t a common event like in the P2P world.

Run out of posts so need to put other answers in this one long post…

@simonb - regarding partnerships we have built an API for other fintech’s and digital banks/wealth managers to integrate with our market and are actively discussing partnerships. I’m sure we will be picking this up with Monzo.

@Jackcrwhitney - Hi Jack, we are a corporate bond focused platform (the only platform that allows everyday investors to access the big institutional bond market) with a focus on consistent steady interest income returns. Generally we like to think of ourselves as a premium model versus peer-to-peer and a more steady income platform than robo-advisors and stock trading (over the long-run).

Corporate bond investing is where the biggest banks and funds invest heavily and it’s a new product for people to now enjoy.

On our site you can choose to either:

i) pick your own bonds
ii) let our new robo-manager do it for you (being released on Wed)
iii) select a WiseAlpha Smart Interest bond and choose a fixed term and rate

o99 - yes we are working on our IFISA next year - please register and you’ll hear about it when it comes out

Peter_G - Hi Peter - fixed income refers to products such as bonds providing fixed interest every year. Check out our corporate bond guide (link above) for a good overview of the corporate bond market. Big corporates like Ocado, Tesco and others issue bonds (like taking out a loan) to investors who receive interest every year until a maturity date. The rates on offer and length of the bond can vary depending on the quality of the company, the risk and market conditions. It’s a lower risk way to make returns from FTSE 350 size companies in other words!


(Simon B) #14

Thanks for the answers Rezaah!

Will be keeping an eye on all the updates!


#15

Still taking questions?

On your SIPP page you mention SIPPclub as a provider. But SIPPclub’s website says they are not a provider. :man_shrugging:

Can I invest in WiseAlpha through AJ Bell’s SIPP?


(Rezaah Ahmad) #16

@DaveTMG, yes am taking questions for as long as there is interest! Yes, SIPP club technically aren’t a provider but they provide a lot of information and asked us to include them on the page. The other 3 providers Dentons, Westerby and Morgan Lloyd will open SIPPs to allow you to invest on WiseAlpha.

Unfortunately, you can’t invest on WiseAlpha through AJ Bell. Those types of SIPP provider limit the types of product you can invest in to what they offer on their supermarket but perhaps in the future if we do a partnership.


#17

@Rezaah I’m wondering if you could explain the Next Call price please? What does this actually mean? Thanks.