Crowdfund Insider had a chance to interview CEO of Kuflink Tarlochan Garcha to learn more about his company’s platform.
Garcha has over 17 years of experience working with two global banks– Barclays and NatWest. He has worked with companies at all stages: from inception to start-up and survival, and growth and expansion mode. He earned his degree at the University of Greenwich in business and economics.
Now leading the relatively new Kuflink Ltd — part of Kuflink Group Plc — that just started to get off of the ground last year, Garcha shared with Crowdfund Insider some of the organization’s plans for the rest of 2017.
Crowdfund Insider: Could you tell our readers more about Kuflink? How did you decide to start this platform, and what makes Kuflink different from other property peer-to-peer lending platforms in the UK?
Chan Garcha: Kuflink was set up in April 2016 and the platform became operational in August 2016. We are a secured, property based peer-to-peer platform. Kuflink is part of the Kuflink group which also compromises a very successful bridging company. Our niche is that our sister company Kuflink Bridging retains 20% in every deal on Kuflink’s peer-to-peer platform. All deals are secured against UK property which means the maximum LTV for our lenders is 56% against an auction value of 90 days.
CI: Why a 20% stake in every deal? What about the market made your organization feel confident enough to choose this number?
CG: Investing 20% in every deal demonstrates to our lenders that we have full confidence in all our deals. We are, in essence, putting our money where our mouth is. For us, the priority is our client and we want to ensure they are completely satisfied with every product on the platform.
CI: What are the organization’s key priorities this year?
CG: For us 2017 is all about consolidation and to become the market leading peer-to-peer brand.
CI: What about challenges that you foresee having to overcome?
CG: From a regulatory perspective, we are closely working with the FCA to ensure Kuflink continues to raise the bar. We embrace regulation as this instills greater confidence among consumers and that is of grave importance. We are also committed to ensuring we implement state-of-the-art technology offering a unique website with ongoing new features making the user experience easy and seamless.
CI: Tell us about your vetting process for the deals on your platform. What are some deals that you are planning to highlight this year?
CG: We have an independent credit committee of three independent non-executive directors. All deals are vetted by them before they go onto the platform. We also use credit reference agencies, independent professional valuations along with internal checks and verifications before a proposal goes to the credit committee.
CI: As you expand across different areas in the UK, will you have different strategies per area?
CG: No – we aim to offer the same product to all clients across the UK. We have a diverse selection of deals available and we try to match our clients’ lending appetite to potential deals.
CI: What thoughts do you have about the UK political environment now — i.e., Brexit — and how might this affect Kuflink?
CG: Whilst the UK political environment may create some uncertainty we feel the potential for peer-to-peer will remain for some time. Alternative sources of finance are growing and low interest rates make peer-to-peer very attractive, especially where it is property backed.
CI: Having recently gone through the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) approval process, what sorts of policy changes or directions would you like to see so that regulation better supports P2P platforms in the UK?
CG: We feel it is very important to work with the regulator. Unfortunately, they are under-resourced and the knowledge seems to be fairly low. The process takes much longer than it really needs to. We also feel that Treasury could do more to protect lenders. For example, allow the FSCS to cover peer-to-peer.
CI: Can everyday, unaccredited investors participate on your platform? If so, what would be your advice for new participants?
CG: Absolutely – we can take on retail lenders.
— Kuflink (@KuflinkUK) February 7, 2017