Online marketplace mortgage financer LendInvest grew revenues by 133% in 2016 and turned a profit of £3.4 million, accounts show.
The London fintech company put out results on Friday showing revenues jumped to £32 million in the year to 31 March 2016, up from £14 million a year earlier.
Profit was largely flat on 2015’s haul of £3.3 million.
LendInvest, which traces it roots back to 2008, lets institutional investors and ordinary savers finance short-term mortgages, where people buy houses that need work, repair them, then quickly sell them on for profit.
All loans are secured against the property being bought and the platform offers returns of over 5% per year to the investors who finance the loans.
CEO and cofounder Christian Faes told Business Insider: “It’s an interesting time for us. The last couple of year’s we’ve shown we can be profitable. We’re also keen to show we can grow the business, which we have done quite a lot in the last year. Profits haven’t accelerated but they have stayed steady. If we had fewer people we’d certainly have substantially more profits.”
But the fact that LendInvest turned a profit at all makes it something of a rarity in the world of fintech and online lending. Recent results from Funding Circle, RateSetter, and Zopa all showed the companies making big losses.
Faes says: “We’re excited that we’ve shown the business can be profitable and shown it for 3 consecutive years. It’s proving there’s a sound financially viable business that we’re building and in the context of fintech I think it makes us a bit of an outlier. We’re managing to expand and not burn cash to do that.”
Faes says the growth in revenues came from existing customers investing more money on the platform, new customers coming on, and a new product, development finance mortgages to help people buy properties where planning consent is required and substantial work needed.
The growth comes despite the June 23 vote for Britain to leave the European Union, which has hit the property market. Faes says: “It’s looking quite positive. In terms of platform investors, we’ve had 50% more than we had last year in the same quarter. Our institutional funders haven’t really been caught off guard by Brexit. They’re aware of the situation, keeping a close eye, but they’re confident of what we do.”
We’re managing to expand and not burn cash to do that
“On the borrower side, I think the property market is slowing down but I think a lot of that is a result of stamp duty increases this year as much as Brexit.
“I think Brexit is offset by the falling pound. We’re seeing foreign buyers coming in and supporting the market to some extent. We definitely hear it from the surveyors we work with and the research we’re reading. But I think they’re more active in London, where the property market is a little more skewed.”
Incoming platform investment grew by 50% in the wake of the Brexit vote, but the slowdown in the property market means the number of mortgages underwritten grew by only 29%. Does this mean some investors are left disappointed, with cash sitting in their account?
Faes says: “For online platform investors, we generally have always enough deal flow to feed to them. Because we have institutional funding lines, platform investors, and also our funds, we can manage the pipeline of deals. The only reason people would be sitting on cash in their investor accounts is because they don’t want to invest in any of the loans that we offer at any one time.”
LendInvest lent £320 million over its platform in the year to March 2016 end, compared to £174 million in the proceeding 12 months.
But Faes cautions: “We’ve got to move beyond just looking at headline lending figures because what we’ve seen is if you’re lending billions of dollars a year but you’re losing money, that’s kind of not a business. With our business, we haven’t necessarily punched the lights out with headline lending figures but we’ve grown quite substantially. We aim to be a profitable business that works for shareholders and works for customers.”
Faes told Business Insider earlier this year when LendInvest raised £17 million that the company planned to get into buy-to-let mortgages. He says today: “It’s a work in progress. We’ve seen the buy-to-let market get increasingly competitive so it’s something we’re working on. For us, we want to make sure we have the best cost of capital so we’re talking with a number of institutions now, we’ve got term sheets we’re working through. We’re hopeful of being active in the market next year.”
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