Interview with James Buckland, CEO of Loanbook Capital

What is Loanbook Capital about?

LoanBook Capital is a Spanish peer-to-business (P2B) finance platform, providing an alternative to traditional savings and fixed income products to investors of all types via direct participation in loans, and other forms of credit finance, to mature, good quality Spanish SMEs.

LoanBook provides credit origination and management services to clients. These services are supported by an online platform, which gives investors access to credit opportunities through an auction marketplace, as well as a soon to be launched secondary market for trading loan participations.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

As with other P2B platforms, the main attractions for investors of this model are typically greater risk adjusted returns, control and transparency over investments and lower fees. LoanBook is no different in these characteristics: we provide access to an asset class that offers a return that exceeds that available from traditional fixed income investments with comparable characteristics (e.g. risk and liquidity), we allow investors to manage the risk and return profile of their portfolio online in a transparent way, and we do not charge fees to investors, other than for providing liquidity through our secondary market.

However, LoanBook has some unique features that other platforms do not. Firstly, we offer investors the opportunity to invest in both loans and invoice discounting (in the form of pagarés) through a single marketplace. This provides investors with the ability to better manage their risk by diversifying their portfolio in credits with a variety of risk, return and duration. Secondly, we put a great deal of emphasis on risk management; we have a team of credit risk professionals and have developed an in-house credit rating system that allows us to monitor and manage risk & recovery effectively, which ultimately leads to a better net return to the investors. Thirdly, our team is made up of professionals with institutional backgrounds in investment and credit management, which means that our approach to client service and reporting brings the best of institutional discipline and ‘alternative finance’ ease and transparency.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

As with advantages to investors, LoanBook offers the borrower the typical advantages that you would expect from a P2B platform; competitive and transparent cost of capital (interest rates & fees), access to an alternative channel of finance and a quick and easy application process.

Another key advantage for SMEs, over traditional banks, is that we do not ‘bundle’ our service with other products or services, such as insurance, deposit accounts or Director business. This enables SMEs to separate their working capital requirements from personal and ongoing operational financial needs. Furthermore, as is the case for investors, LoanBook has some unique advantages over its peers. Firstly, unlike other platforms that focus on a single form of finance, we are able to offer borrowers three types of finance in the form of loans, short-term revolving credit lines and finance via the discounting of ‘pagarés’. And secondly, we are not purely an online service; having a team of experienced credit professionals enables us to take a personal approach to managing relationships with SMEs.

How did you start Loanbook Capital? Is the company funded with venture capital?

LoanBook was started at the end of 2012 by two founding partners with their own capital and initiative. The company’s shareholder base has moved on somewhat since then, with each of the three-man management team, and a number of the employees, having an ownership stake in the company. Continue reading