December @ Savings4Freedom

Savings4Freedom December 2019 Portfolio Update

Happy 2020 @ Savings4Freedom

December 2019: Year in Review, New Goals, and Black Clouds hanging over the P2P Industry

Hi Savings4Freedom friends! Happy 2020!

Nothing better than starting a new year by reviewing the previous one, but I also want to share with you my plans for the future.

What an experience so far! From all the enthusiasm in January 2019 with my initial post to the alarming news by the end of the year (Kuetzal is a SCAM), I learned so much! I´m really happy to have the opportunity to share with you my decisions, successes, and failures. I find this transparency as a brutal call to keep my goals and achieve them. Thank you so much for your support, questions, and suggestions.


Savings4Freedom Results from 2019

Last year key indicators are very positive:

  • From ~200€ in monthly returns by December 2018 to more than 600€ by December 2019. This returns resulted in €1.693,83 (before taxes) in 2018 and €4.918,93 (before taxes) in 2019.

However, the key lesson from 2019 is that P2P returns are not real until they are back into your bank account, from your P2P platform. P2P crowdlending is a high-risk investment and everyone needs to have this message clear in their analysis before investing.


Savings4Freedom Key Goals for 2020

Now I want to share with you my 4 key objectives for 2020:

Objective 1: Reduce and Rebalance my P2P Crowdinvesting Portfolio

During 2019 my main goal was to maximize returns from my P2P investments. This decision drove my actions from P2Consumer crowdlending platforms, such as Mintos, Viventor, Grupeer, FastInvest or Robocash towards P2Business crowdinvestment platforms, such as Monethera, Wisefund, Envestio, Crowdestor, TFGcrowd, or Kuetzal (read the review). This increased the portfolio risk in a significant manner.

The results have been positive, as you can see in the table below:

SAVINGS4FREEDOM Portfolio20182019
Internal Rate of Return (IRR)13.02%14.74%
True Time-Weighted Rate of Return9.32%14.83%

However, since Kuetzal (read the review) is confirmed as a scam, all the positive outlook presented above disappears in one instant. That is one of the potential risks of these types of investments. I want to emphasize to all my friends the same warning.

In light of this reality, I will reduce in half my portfolio and rebalance my P2P investments portfolio in such a manner that I genuinely diversify my crowdlending investment, but at the same time, I gain comparative visibility over the results obtained from my different P2P platform choices on a monthly basis.

The reduction of my P2P portfolio aims towards reducing the risk of my overall investments and my exposure to this particular asset class. Until more information is available, I suggest everyone to wait.

This will be reflected initially in the €2.5K club: I will reduce the exposure I have in some of the P2P platforms I use where I invest more than €2.5K and increase in others where I currently allocate less than €2.5K. I will update this approach based on market conditions or particular industry information. This decision will pressure me to assume higher discipline and control my willingness to invest in higher return/risk platforms.

Two main implications will happen from this process:

a) My monthly returns will drop since I will move funds from P2P platforms with higher interest rates towards others with lower interest rates; but also…
b) I will keep validating the liquidity of my P2P investments, by continuous withdrawal of funds from multiple platforms every single month. This action, if successful, will allow me to keep trust in my P2P investments.

Objective 2: Explore New Investment Options

The key reason why I invest in P2P lending and crowdinvesting is the simplicity of the idea behind this investment model: money + time = interest. Also, it was my personal understanding that with an investment portfolio below €50K, I was not able to obtain true diversification by dividing my savings into other asset classes.

One of my objectives for 2020 is precisely to explore other investment options towards a more balanced and reliable return strategy. This means not only the exploration of the stock market (I’m currently learning how to invest by using eToro €100K virtual portfolio simulator) but also other alternative investments that I will share with you along this year.

Objective 3: Start a New Business

As probably some of you are aware, my wife is a pet-sitter at 4EveryPet.

4EveryPet @ Savings4Freedom

With the funds made available from P2P investment withdrawals, one of my personal goals for the year is to build a digital business based on this particular niche market. This will be a particularly challenging objective, that will demand significant investment and with no promise of actual returns in the short term, but this is a long-term plan. I truly want to kick-off this project and turn it into reality until the end of the year.

Objective 4: Improve the Savings4Freedom Blog Design, Contents Quality, and Value

This last objective results from your direct feedback. I really appreciate all your direct messages, emails, and comments during 2019. I took note of your impressions and ideas on how the blog should improve and I will do my best to deliver.

As stated above, this blog works for me as a powerful motivational tool. It keeps me focused to report my findings, share my opinions and results every single month. But the most interesting aspect was the opening of conversations and network opportunities with fellow investors that face the same problems and search for the most reliable solutions.

Savings4Freedom

These are the key reasons why I will dedicate more time to the blog in 2020.

But, without any further due, let’s check the Savings4Freedom returns!

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Savings4Freedom November 2019 Portfolio Update

November 2019: Great Performance, Uncomfortable Surprises & New Challenges

Hi Savings4Freedom friends!

After a fantastic business trip to China last month, I’m back in Europe and ready to share a new monthly update. November 2019 was once more the best performing month for Savings4Freedom, but also a call to action on how to avoid the Chinese P2P collapse story with my own portfolio.

Uncomfortable Surprises

Kuetzal is in trouble due to management changes and multiple reports sharing concerns about the platform internal procedures and questioning the information presented by several borrowers that received loans through the platform.

FastInvest is under pressure to increase transparency & explain some prevalent rumors that are questioning the platform business.

Mintos is facing backlash for successive problems with it’s Loan Originators.

Regulatory Oversight Increases in the UK

The UK just implemented new Peer to Peer lending rules for the market in order to improve regulation over the industry and increase protections of individual investors, after multiple stories of P2P platforms failing to pay lenders back and going out of business.

Going forward, individual investors on will be classified within various categories including:

  • Certified sophisticated investor – no restrictions on how much you can invest – based on past activity.
  • Self-certified sophisticated investor
    • You have made more than one investment in a P2P agreement or portfolio in the past 2 years
    • You work, or have worked in the past 2 years, in a professional capacity relating to finance, resulting in an understanding of P2P
    • You are currently, or have been in the past 2 years, a director of a company with an annual turnover of at least £1 million
    • You are a member of a network or syndicate of business angels and have been so for at least the last 6 months
  • High net worth investor – you earn more than £100,000 per year, or hold net assets of at least £250,000.
  • Restricted investor  – you may invest 10% of your net assets with certain exclusions

Other new rules that impact the platforms include:

  • More explicit requirements to clarify what governance arrangements, systems, and controls platforms need to have in place to support the outcomes they advertise, with a particular focus on credit risk assessment, risk management, and fair valuation practices.
  • Strengthening rules on plans for the wind-down of P2P platforms if they fail.
  • Introducing a requirement that platforms assess investors’ knowledge and experience of P2P investments where no advice has been given to them.
  • Setting out the minimum information that P2P platforms need to provide to investors.
  • Applying the Mortgage and Home Finance Conduct of Business (MCOB) sourcebook and other Handbook requirements to
  • P2P platforms that offer home finance products, where at least one of the investors is not an authorized home finance provider.

What are your thoughts on this approach? Which investor categories do you find yourself? Are you compliant? Let me know!

On the other end, China is ordering the total closure of the industry.

If you didn’t read my description of the rise and fall of the P2P Industry in China, check the story on the image above. In fact, at the end of November China announced that P2P lenders will have two years to exit the industry. Check the Reuters report here. This news is a direct answer from the Chinese central government to avoid new scandals and small savers demands for compensation for the loss of their money in the industry.

Defining plans for 2020

Taking into consideration the Chinese example and taking into analysis my own personal finances reality, I’m currently working on my P2P investment plans for 2020. Some ideas are already in place, others still need additional time to be implemented. As ever, only reality will define the course of the future, but I genuinely believe that if you guide yourself and your actions based on a strong set of P2P lending investment principles, you will be ready to answer any challenges and face any losses on your way.

In any case, I intend to share with you my plans in the December update.

Invest @ Savings4Freedom
Defining your investment principles makes every decision easier

But, without any further due, let’s check the Savings4Freedom returns!

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October @ Savings4Freedom

Savings4Freedom October 2019 Portfolio Update

Hi Savings4Freedom friends!

Today I’m writing to you from Hangzhou, in China. I’m representing my company in an international competition and looking for new business opportunities. A beautiful city with more than 1000 years of history.

October was a strange month for Savings4Freedom. Due to personal reasons, I needed to withdraw a significant amount of funds from my portfolio. However, since I was predicting this particular need and kept the necessary funds on iban Wallet, I didn’t suffer any drop in my monthly S4F returns! The reason why I choose iban Wallet was exactly to allow me to have a small interest gain from my savings, but access to my funds immediately, without the need to sell loans or wait for liquidity.

By now, in case you follow the blog, you already know that I decided to set up a group of P2P lending investment principles. They have been crucial in supporting my decisions. Have you found yours? Let me know!

The Failure of P2P Lending Industry in China

Being in China, I decided to explore the reasons why, back in 2018, the local peer to peer industry collapsed, with significant losses to investors.

The Ezubao Scandal

Back in 2016, Ezubao one of the top 10 largest P2P lending platforms in China at the time, has been shut down and 21 executives have been arrested. Even though Ezubao only launched in July 2014, it quickly grew to attract hundreds of thousands of investors with promises of 9-15% returns.

The scale of the fraud was breathtaking. Around 900,000 individual investors have collectively been bilked out of US$7.6 billion, according to Chinese officials, in one of the largest Ponzi schemes ever conceived. It has been reported that an estimated 95% of all borrower listings on Ezubao were fraudulent. Meanwhile, the top executives used investor money to enrich themselves – spending on items and gifts including real estate, cars, and luxury goods.

From 2016 to 2018… More and more platforms…

But the industry rationalized this away as just one bad apple. The regulators announced new rules for the industry at the beginning of 2016 and there was a sense that the strong platforms would adapt and continue to perform well. And that is what happened for the next year or so. But by 2018 serious problems began to emerge. That year ended up being the year of reckoning for the industry.

The p2p lending industry had grown to around 4,000 platforms at its height which everyone agreed was not a sustainable number. The weak platforms were not going to make it but the trouble was as they failed they often took investor money with them. While there was definitely some fraud there were also cases of platforms that meant well but were simply unable to make online lending work.

Investors Guarantees and Losses

Many investors had put their life savings into a single P2P lending platform believing that their money was safe. Some platforms said they would guarantee investor principal and others implied they were backed by the government. What these investors did not understand was that once the platform went out of business these guarantees were worth nothing. But they truly believed the platforms should guarantee all these investments.

What Went Wrong?

Peer to peer lending was a failed experiment in China. It became so tainted by fraud and illegal activity that even the well-intentioned platforms have struggled.

When sourcing for responsibilities, the reason seems to go to a failure of the regulatory system. In 2013 the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) had identified many of the problems with P2P lending but did not do anything about it until it was too late. The reality is that it is really difficult to underwrite loans well. You need a lot of expertise, particularly when it comes to risk management, and only a small number of platforms fully realized this.

There was no signal of how trustworthy a platform was except for size and time on the market. So, there was a mad rush to grow very big, very quickly and there was little incentive to be a good actor. Many platforms that actually had effective risk management in place were overtaken (in size at least) by these young upstarts. It was a house of cards and in hindsight, it was no surprise that it all came crashing down.

What can we learn from it?

We need to actively ensure that the same mistakes don’t repeat themselves in Europe. It is our responsibility, as investors, to ensure we do proper due diligence and request greater transparency from the P2P industry. In a different approach, we need to push from decisive action from the regulatory bodies to establish a clear investor protection standard.

I truly want to see the P2P industry growth, but I believe everyone that reads the blog needs to be informed and consciously of the risks. Let’s learn from the Chinese experience and avoid painful surprises in the future!

What is your opinion on this subject? How do you plan your investment strategies to avoid too much risk? Let me know in the comments section.

But, without any further due, let’s check Savings4Freedom returns!

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September @ Savings4Freedom

Savings4Freedom September 2019 Portfolio Update

Apologies for the late publication, but I took some of the time I dedicate to Savings4Freedom to enjoy time with my family and friends. I’m sure you understand.

September was a very busy month for Savings4Freedom! The learning process since I started my investment portfolio is guiding me towards changing my platform choices. I will share with you all about my decisions on this update.

By now, in case you follow the blog, you already know that I decided to set up a group of P2P lending investment principles. They have been crucial in supporting my decisions. Have you found yours? Let me know!

Please let me know your thoughts on this subject. Do you agree with these principles? I welcome any ideas that can help me improve this list.

Why I’m avoiding Short Term Loans?

Over the past few months, I have been reducing my P2P lending investments on MintosViventor, and Robocash. Some of you contacted me to learn the reason behind my decision to act in this manner, especially when recently I added Mintos among the P2P lending platforms I would select if I started my crowdinvesting portfolio all over again.

Why I'm reducing my consumer P2P lending on Mintos Robocash and Viventor @ Savings4Freedom

The best way to provide a clear answer is to share with you my reflections on the topic. You can read the article by clicking the figure above.

But, without any further due, let’s check Savings4Freedom returns!

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Why I'm reducing my consumer P2P lending on Mintos Robocash and Viventor @ Savings4Freedom

Why I’m reducing my P2P lending investments on Mintos, Viventor & Robocash?

Over the past few months, I have been reducing my P2P lending investments on Mintos, Viventor, and Robocash. Some of you contacted me to learn the reason behind my decision to act in this manner, especially when recently I added Mintos among the P2P lending platforms I would select if I started my crowdinvesting portfolio all over again.

The best way to provide a clear answer is to share with you my reflections on the topic.

Investment Rationale: BuyBack Guarantee, Maturity & Type of Loans

One of the elements that I value when investing in P2P lending opportunities is the additional sense of security provided by the buyback guarantee associated with my investments on Mintos, Viventor, and Robocash.

The second element that I considered when evaluating Mintos, Viventor, and Robocash was the opportunity to loan my savings for a very short maturity term: 30 days to 3 months. This allowed me to plan my investments considering the repayment dates to prepare my next decisions.

The last element is the type of loan available, based on the two previous conditions being met on Mintos, Viventor, and Robocash. Typically, when we decide to follow this investment strategy, we are lending our savings to finance microloans, invoice financing loans, personal consumer loans, or short term loans. Typically 30-day deals.

Problems I faced with short term loans?

Now, I just need to explain the investment results that trigger my action:

  • Are the loans being paid on time?
  • When the buyback guarantee is triggered?
  • Does the penalization interest fee pay for the opportunity cost of not investing my savings on loans with longer maturity?
  • Are interest rates aligned with the opportunity cost?

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August 2019 @ Savings4Freedom

Savings4Freedom August 2019 Portfolio Update

August was a crazy month for Savings4Freedom! Everything happened so fast that almost feels like I was writing the July portfolio update yesterday.

The speed of the P2P lending industry is incredible. The amount of information required to access, process and decide over in order to take informed actions grows faster than my capacity to deal with it.

Based on this reality, I decided to set up a group of P2P lending investment principles that will make much easier for me to take action in the future.

My P2P Lending Investment Principles

If I was starting all over again today, I would follow in a religious manner my P2P Lending Investment Principles:

  1. Buyback Guarantee: Only invest in P2P loans that provide Buyback Guarantee (for security reasons);
  2. Minimum Return: Only invest in P2P loans that offer an interest rate above 12% per year (the ROI and Yield need to justify the risk);
  3. Early Exit: The majority of my investments should have available some type of early exit from the P2P loan position (through buyback or secondary market, for liquidity reasons);
  4. Cashback and Bonus Offers: I want to maximize cashback and bonus opportunities to leverage my P2P lending returns (at the end of every platform month overview, I share the cashback and bonus opportunities available in case you use my referral links, that I really appreciate if you do to support this blog).
  5. Diversification: I want to distribute my funds across different types of loans, geographic locations, maturity and mainly P2P platforms (diversity is king).

Please let me know your thoughts on this subject. Do you agree with these principles? I welcome any ideas that can help me improve this list.

How I Would Invest 10K in P2P Lending if I was Starting Today @ Savings4Freedom

I recently published one of the articles that more fun offered me writing it. I was challenged by some Savings4Freedom readers to reflect on what I did wrong and how I would do things differently if I started from scratch investing in P2P lending. It was a really important exercise for me in order to conscientiously realize the progress I have done until now. But the best part was realizing in a positive way that I’m really looking forward to experiencing what the future will bring in my path towards financial freedom.

You can read the article by clicking the figure above.

But, without any further due, let’s check Savings4Freedom returns!

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How I Would Invest 10K in P2P Lending if I was Starting Today @ Savings4Freedom

How I Would Invest 10.000€ in P2P Lending if I was Starting Today?

Over the past week, I received a significant number of messages with questions on how to start investing in P2P lending. During the preparation of my replies, I realized that the best way to share my experience and opinion was imagining that I was starting all over again today…

Rules for the Exercise: Amount, Maturity & Moment in History

Let’s define for the purpose of this exercise a budget of 10.000€ for P2P lending investments. Let’s consider a timeline for deploying my investments of 12 months and take into consideration my current knowledge within the European P2P lending industry in August 2019.

Key Questions to Answer

Now, I just need to answer the following questions:

  • Which steps would I follow to invest 10.000€ in P2P lending?
  • Which P2P crowdlending platforms would I choose for my investments today?
  • How would I spread my 10.000€ among my selected P2P platforms?
  • What strategy within a 12 months timeframe would I follow to maximize earnings with the least time effort from my part?
  • And why I took each of these decisions…

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