IFISA approvals reach 12, but top platforms still waiting
TWELVE companies are now authorised to offer Innovative Finance ISAs (IFISAs), but the ‘big eight’ peer-to-peer lenders are still waiting.
A HMRC spokesperson confirmed to Peer-to-Peer Finance News that “as of 31 August, 12 [companies] are approved to offer IFISAs”.
Since the IFISA tax wrapper was launched in April this year, only a handful of firms have been licensed to offer IFISA products to their retail customer base. These include brand new platforms such as Crowd2Fund and Crowdstacker, as well as a number of asset managers who do not currently offer P2P products.
Crowdstacker’s chief executive Karteek Patel recently told P2PFN that 50 per cent of the platform’s investment now comes via its ISA product. Relatively new firms such as Crowd Cube and Crowd for Angels have also been granted the ISA license, alongside Property Partner, Link Financial Outsourcing, Resolution Compliance and Abundance Investment, which was co-founded by Zopa’s Bruce Davis. Strand Capital, Blackfinch Investments, Greyfriars Asset Management and Peregrine Asset Management have also received approval to offer the product.
However, established platforms such as Ratesetter, Zopa and ThinCats are still waiting for their IFISA licence, almost 12 months after filing their initial applications.
“There was initially a general expectation on all platforms that we had a decent chance of seeing some platforms approved before the end of the tax year,” said John Battersby, head of policy and communications at Ratesetter. “But obviously that didn’t happen.”
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has not given a date for the next batch of IFISA approvals, and said there is “no update as to timings”. Earlier this year, the FCA publicly apologised for the delay in processing the applications, stating that the delays were due to complex cases and incomplete applications.
“It would appear that the FCA is working on a whole bunch of applications on various platforms at the same time,” said Kevin Caley, co-founder and chairman of ThinCats. “I think they’ll probably announce maybe half a dozen in one batch, and then they’ll try to get the others through whenever they can.”
The IFISA plans were announced by the government in mid-2015, and allow UK taxpayers to place up to £15,240 in P2P investments, completely tax free. Next year, the ISA allowance increases to £20,000.