Investor talk with Tobias Mende

STobias Mendeoftware engineer Tobias Mende spends his free time writing finance blog Der Finanzfisch where he covers topics like investment, personal development, productivity, financial education and marketplace lending.

What is keeping you up at night?
Spending time with friends or thinking about some difficult computer science problems. I am not that kind of person who worries a lot, so in general only positive things keep me up at night. Maybe I’m boring but I’ll never invest in something that keeps me away from sleep, since good investments allow me to sleep very well.

What was your first investment, how did it go and what did you learn from it?
My first investment was in my youth in a closed investment fund. Even though it developed quite well, I learned that this was a bad idea since I was completely out of control and could not see how my money evolved. Furthermore, I learned that it is very important to keep the costs in mind since they may wreck your entire investment if too high. Last but not least, I learned that I will never ever again put such a large portion of my money in one single investment since such investments are risky and it is important to diversify.

If you look back at your years as an investor – is there anything you have learned you wish you would have known when you started?

Never invest in things you do not understand!

There are a lot of financial products out there and one is more complicated than the other – some with very creative cost structures or very long package leaflets. These products are almost never a good investment. They often contain some pitfalls, high costs or large risks. I’ve learned that there are a lot of good investment opportunities out there – it is better to miss a chance than to risk everything just for the sake of investing.

How would you describe your investment strategy?
My investment strategy is mostly passive. I have a fully automated monthly savings plan that invests my money in ETFs on the MSCI World and the MSCI Emerging Markets. This is supposed to form the base of my portfolio. In addition, I invest in peer-to-peer loans with Bondora and another platform by using the Auto-Invest features since they allow me to diversify and invest my money without any time spent. Especially with such small investments (5€ per loan) it is very important to keep the time invested low since otherwise the return on time invested is lousy. Last but not least, I also pick some stocks from time to time since I like evaluating companies and business models. I consider myself a yield and risk-oriented investor since I have time and I don’t have any plans for my invested money in the near future.

How do you diversify your investments?

Whenever there are two investments with the same return rate and risk structure, I’ll pick the one that increases my diversification the most.

Meaning I would rather invest in a new company rather than increasing my shares in a company I already invest in. I also try to diversify across different asset classes such as stocks, P2P loans and private investments. When it comes to P2P loans I enjoy putting only the minimal amount of money in one single loan for maximizing the number of loans I invest in.

Do you prefer short or long term investments?
It depends. I invest to benefit from the compound interest effect over a long period (more than 10 years). That said, if an investment looks good for me I prefer long term investments since I have to care less. With short-term investments I would have to handle my money every few months and I would need to make decisions over and over again. Therefore, long-term investments are more relaxed. That is also the reason why I am more or less a buy-and-hold investor when it comes to stocks. I have a life beside my personal finances and I want to keep the time invested in financial decisions low.

In your opinion, what is the best way to start investing?
ETFs are really good. They are cheap, they are easy and you get a maximum diversification with almost no effort. ETFs are also very good for pupils or students who do not have that much money to invest. Some ETFs allow free savings plans from 25€ per month with a very low total expense ratio (TER). These products are a great way to get in touch with the stock exchange and to learn about one’s personal risk disposition. Furthermore, you do not need to spend much time to get started and there is a lot of free help on how to choose a good ETF (e.g. finance blogs).

Would you call that a golden rule of investing?
My golden rule is “Do not invest if you do not understand the investment.” You would not by a car if you cannot drive. And I really appreciate the classic saying “Do not put all of your eggs in one basket.” These two simple rules guide all my investments.

How did you find Bondora?
I have looked for alternative investment classes besides the stock market and have found peer-to-peer loans as a relatively new thing. After looking into different marketplace lending platforms I decided to start with Bondora since the website and the reviews all over the internet convinced me.

I started with Bondora due to the following reasons:

  • Very transparent information on the website
  • Good structured website (also available in German)
  • No costs for investors
  • A high estimated rate of return

Furthermore, the Bondora Portfolio Manager is very easy to set up which is ideal when starting without much experience in loan investments.

How has your experience been so far?
Very good. Bondora is evolving further and the platform has gotten much better in the last months despite the fact that it was very good from the beginning.
For investors it is very easy to trace the investment and the amount of time I spend on Bondora is very low. The estimated return looks very promising and it seems to be a good investment.

All in all, I have a good feeling about my investments on Bondora which is very important for a good night sleep.

Investor talk with Coen Barneveld Binkhuysen

Coen Barneveld BinkhuysenDutch lawyer Coen Barneveld Binkhuysen has good insight into the peer-to-peer lending industry as he advises numerous clients and international platforms on a great variety of legal questions in this industry. Furthermore, he has been an active investor for many years now.

What is keeping you up at night?
Actually not too much. The first thing I learned as an investor is not to make any investments that may keep me awake at night (in a bad way). Therefore, I only invest the money I can miss without any problems.

What was your first investment, how did it go and what did you learn from it?
I am not sure whether you will consider it is as a real investment, but as a teenager I put most of my money on a subordinated savings account at a Dutch bank. Normally, saving accounts in the Netherlands are covered by a guarantee of the Dutch National Bank in case of a bankruptcy of the bank. However, I decided to lock my funds on this savings account for 5 years without such guarantee in exchange for a (substantially) higher interest rate. My investment paid out including a decent return, just a few days before the bank went bankrupt… I actually had to call and convince the help desk of this “online bank” to immediately transfer all of my funds to a different bank as the website was already unavailable due to an “attack by hackers” (or actually because of the bankruptcy rumors).

Did the fall-over of the bank had longer-term implications on your investment strategy?
It made me fully aware of the fact that banks are never too big to fail before it became common knowledge. Obviously this risk also applies to companies and marketplace lending platforms. Therefore, I always take bankruptcy risks very seriously and I aim to diversify my investments in terms of platforms, companies, countries and instruments in order to reduce these risks.

If you look back at your years as investor – is there anything you have learned you wish you would have known when you started?
People tend to talk a lot and they repeat each other. If someone tells a story, suddenly everyone is repeating that same story without checking any facts. I learned that I needed to do my own research, check facts and only listen to experienced investors who actually base their story on facts and analysis.
Furthermore, just like many others I underestimated the risk of peer-to-peer lending in the beginning. The high interest rates sound very appealing but the risks of losing your investments are very real. As a result, too many of my early investments vanished. This knowledge could have saved me quite a few euros.

How would you describe your investment strategy?
It depends, on Bondora I am a passive investor. I used to be very active in the beginning when the Portfolio Manager offered more options to select loans based on certain criteria. I actively acquired/sold loans on the Secondary Market based on my analysis. After Bondora simplified the Portfolio Manager I did not see the purpose of the manager anymore. At the moment I am consolidating my real ROI on Bondora before investing more.
For equity investments, I have a preference for companies which also have a professional investor on board such as a private equity firm. These firms have far more knowledge, time and information to base their investment decision on than we have as a P2P lenders. Furthermore, I review the business plans and check whether there is a real interest in the products/services that these companies are trying to sell.

Is there any ground rules you follow for diversifying?
I do not have any real ground rules, but I have been using the same maximum investment amount per loan for a couple of years on Bondora. Furthermore, I also try to invest similar amounts on different platforms, just to figure out what works and what does not. I diversify less in relation to equity investments, mainly because the investment amounts are substantially higher. The amount I invest really depends on the offers being made.

Do you prefer short or long term investments? Does that reflect on your personality?
Equity investments are long term investments in any case. I actually write off an equity investment the moment I invest in start-ups. I hope to see the investment back at some point of time but I am aware that it will take many years. In my experience as a legal adviser to many start-ups, only a few companies will survive. And most probably I will not find that unicorn everyone is looking for…
With respect to loans I tend to go for the short terms loans as I prefer to create a decent cash flow on a monthly basis with a relatively low risk profile.

The fact that Bondora provides new information about the loans on a daily basis creates quite an addictive situation.

My girlfriend seems to consider me an impatient person, which may reflect the fact that I really like these daily changes.

In your opinion, what is the best way to start investing?
Do not invest large amounts in the first year and take it from there. Start with small amounts and test your strategy for at least a year. Do your own research and discuss your strategy with many experienced investors who base their stories on facts and analysis.

Although it is a cliché, only invest the money you can lose without a tear drop in order to make sure you will not have any sleepless nights.

Would you call that a golden rule of investing?

If it sounds to too good to be true, it normally is.

How did you find Bondora?
As I intended to diversify my investment portfolio a few years ago, I was looking for a pan-European platform that provided many investment opportunities to invest in loans with different maturity dates. At that time Bondora was the best (and perhaps even the only) feasible option available to me.

How has your experience been so far?
I like the fact that Bondora is actually trying to be transparent about all (or at least most) of the information it has on the loans. It creates an opportunity for investors to analyze the performance of all loans. In my opinion, transparency is a huge advantage for an investor and absolutely a big plus for a marketplace lending platform. As far as I am aware Bondora is the only platform that provides such detailed information. However, I was disappointed when Bondora decided to decrease the selection criteria to select certain loans using the Portfolio Manager since this was one of the main reasons I started investing at Bondora.

Investor talk with Kolja Barghoorn and Lars Wrobbel

Our German investors Kolja Barghoorn and Lars Wrobbel are co-authors of the popular P2P investment guidebook “Investieren in P2P-Privatkredite” in German but for neither of the 31-year old men investment is not the first priority. Kolja runs a web video production firm and Lars works as an IT expert, while writing books, writing for a P2P blog Passives Einkommen mit P2P-Privatkrediten and starting a web-based fashion business. From their busy schedules they found the time to speak with us.


Kolja Barghoorn

Lars Wrobbel

                                Kolja Barghoorn and Lars Wrobbel

What is keeping you up at night?
Kolja: Netflix.
Lars: New business ideas.

What was your first investment and what did you learn from it?
Kolja: A German company from Munich called Infineon. It went really well, I managed to make an ROI of about 350% and I learned that it was pure “beginner’s luck” since I invested in March 2009 which basically was the best time ever to buy stocks.
Lars: I started my investment career at the sport market Betfair and earned a lot of money for many years. I learned there to lose a lot of money too. 🙂

How have you evolved as an investor? 
Kolja: I have become much more serious and humble in investing. I try to stick to the things I know and never invest serious amount of money without understanding exactly where my money is going and what risk I am incurring.

I am mainly a buy-and-hold investor and almost never sell my investments.

Lars: With the end of my active trading career at the sport markets in 2011 I changed my direction and learned to earn money on the passive way. In my case writing books. A few years later I expanded the passive earning of money on the stock market with ETFs and a bit later with P2P.

I wish I had earlier recognized how pleasant passive investment was.

Describe your investment strategy? How do you divide your portfolio and what is the optimal allocation in your view?
Kolja: I like the buy-and-hold approach. I like incurring risk but never as much that it could seriously harm my financial stability. I mainly invest in my own company and in index-funds such as ETFs on the S&P 500, MSCI World and M-DAX but I also own a fair amount of common stocks (mainly German, Spanish and American companies). I also invest in other private ventures – for example I have some investments in Book-Projects that do very well for me and will make further investments therein in the future. P2P is also a nice investment sector which I’m now getting more and more comfortable with and where I’m allocating more of my funds nowadays.
Lars: My investment strategy is based on 3 main components. 1. ETFs, 2. Shares that pay dividends 3. P2P. If the stock market is at a very high level (in my view) I invest more in P2P. If the stock market is on a lower level I change the focus. P2P investment I an excellent alternative at bad times in stocks.

How much does your daily work and interest influence your investment strategy?
Kolja: It influences my investment decisions a lot because I work on web videos that concentrate on investing and therefore I study and read a lot about investments, mainly stocks but also other subjects like the overall economy. The work I do there influences not only my investment decisions but also my business decisions – basically everything is influencing everything. It is always important to stay inside your “circle of competence” like Warren Buffett says and to stick to the strategies that one knows and that let you sleep calmly at night.
Lars: My daily work doesn’t affect my investment strategy.

Do you prefer short or long term investments and does that reflect on your personality?
Kolja: I almost never invest for the short-term. In fact, the investments which earn a short-term return I almost always reinvest not only because of the taxes, costs and compounding do I prefer long-term investing but because I think it is much more enjoyable. I like the whole process and the allocation of money more than spending it.
Lars: I prefer long term investments and it actually reflects on my personality as well.

In your opinion, what is the best way to start investing?
Kolja: I think the best way to start investing is to read 1-2 books about the main subject of the investment whether it is common stocks, P2P or bonds. You have to know what the basic principles of the investment are, what are the risks you are taking and then just start with small, incremental amounts and get used to the process.

I think the whole investing process is a craft. You don’t get better just by reading or by discussing on the internet – you get better by thinking yourself and acting on your own reasoning and by accepting the harsh reality of your decisions and results. You have to be brutally honest with yourself.

Lars: The best way to start investing is just to start investing. You have to experience it – there is no other way to start. Of course you can avoid some mistakes by reading books but you have to make your own experience and you must find an investment that is right for you. Start with small amounts until you understand the investment and feel safe.

Please share your golden rule of investing with our readers. And is there a particular book you could recommend?
Kolja: My golden rule of investing is “Never test the depth of water with both feet”. My favorite book on investing is “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham, the new edition with commentaries from Jason Zweig who also has a very good blog.
Lars: My favorite investment book is “Souverän investieren mit Indexfonds und ETFs” from Gerd Kommer.

My golden rule is: “Know your investment. If you know your investment you are more relaxed in your decisions”. 

What fascinates you most about P2P lending?
Kolja: I like P2P investing because it has very little risk-correlation to my other investments and because it doesn’t require much time. With P2P I focus on automatic portfolio builders to earn a passive income and spending not much time with the portfolio, only when I have new funds to invest.
Lars: P2P lending is a very exciting form of investment because it is very different from one platform to another one. And of course you can earn good yield there. Furthermore I like the automatic investment opportunity because time is the most valuable thing in life.

How did you find Bondora and how would you describe the experience?
Kolja: I found Bondora through my friend and business partner Lars Wrobbel who introduced me to it when we were discussing our ideas for a book on P2P investing.

Bondora offers a much more simple way of investing than platforms in my own country and so far everything is working nicely.

Lars: I started investing on Bondora in the end of 2014 and built a small portfolio to play around with and which was also useful for my book.

Bondora offers an excellent yield and is easy to use.

But in comparison to other platforms outside Germany I think that Bondora looks a little bit overloaded for new investors. So, I suggest to do a little bit more for your transparency and simplicity.

What has been your best investment so far in life?
Kolja: The best monetary investment of my life has been the investment of about €12,000 into my digital film & animation diploma at the SAE Institute in Berlin. There I learned how to research, produce and edit videos. Something I love doing and have been doing for almost 10 years now and which has earned me not only good money but also a lot of joy and experiences from my viewers.
Lars: The best investment in my life has been my first book because this has lead the way to all my other online business activities. Looking back at this investment I learned that it is often the first step in everything you do in life which forms the foundation for greater things. So, it is very important to get things done because on the way you may find new opportunities which can change your life later on.

Investor talk with Martin Resch

Martin Resch’s investment career has lasted over 30 years. His investments span from growing trees all the way to day trading and for the last 8 years a growing piece of his portfolio is going into P2P lending.

martin reschPlease give us a little hint about your background and what are you up to today? 
Living in the south of Germany I’m working as a teacher of mathematics, physics and programming at a high school. So I’m very used to numbers, data analysis and calculations. I’m spending a lot of time with my family, my three kids from 13 to 19 are in school and at the university. Traveling and reading is my favorite pastime and I’m always interested in politics and economics.

What was your first investment, how did it go and what did you learn from it?
I started to invest in shares when I was 18 years old in the middle of the 1980s. It was a great time to make money if you had money to invest (I hadn’t so much). So I learned that you have to have a lot of money to make more and I kept on investing every year since then.

How have you evolved as an investor – what do you know now that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
My investments are now widely spread. Today it is hard to earn interests from classic investments like bonds, so I had to find new ways. Investing today is very different from 10 years before. And long term is no more dozens of years, I will need a lot of money the next years for all of my children studying and later looking how to enhance my pension.

Describe your investment strategy? 
I spread my investments very wide – from home with solar panels to bonds, shares, lots of P2P lending and wood investments. Sustainable investment is a big theme for me so I wouldn’t buy shares from every company and I’m not only looking for the best returns.

How much does your daily work and interest influence your investment strategy?
I don’t trust any “specialists” or consultants at my bank. There are some of my former pupils – and they have never been that good in math. I learned a lot of using excel sheets and I bring this knowledge back to school. But it is a little difficult – most young people are not very interested in how investments work.

Math is difficult but you need it if you want to understand what the numbers written on the papers mean.

Do you prefer short or long term investments? Does that reflect on your personality – are you a patient or an impatient person?
Oh, in general I’m a very impatient person – ask my family. I do both. I have invested in wood where trees need 20 years to grow but sometimes doing some day trade. The more I invest the longer my time horizon.

In your opinion, what is the best way to start investing?

First you need the money that you can invest – so saving for the first years is more important than looking for good returns.

You should have a good mix of short and long term investments and you should learn from your experience.

Share your golden rule of investing with our readers? And is there a particular book you could recommend?
I like Warren Buffets “Invest only in companies you understand”. I read a lot on the internet about “passive income” – that’s a good plan.

What fascinates you most about P2P lending?
I discovered P2P lending 8 years ago and it became a big part of my investment strategy.

I first liked the win-win situation of people to people lending, later enjoyed the good returns.

I really like Bondora’s way of publishing a lot of data and opening API to all. In the last couple of years I started spending a few hours or so every week on looking for new investments, it became an interesting pastime for me. Of course, I learn a lot about credit and risk by doing so. P2P is perfect for beginners because you can decide every month if you like to reinvest or take your money out. But you have to learn to be patient and not to invest all your money in the first week.

What has been your best investment so far?
I lost a lot of money investing in renewable energy companies. Bad timing. My best investment is not so easy to find out. Maybe investing in small regional companies, a perfect win-win situation with fair interest rates but good returns for me.

Investor talk with Andreas Tielmann

Andreas Tielmann is an active investor on the P2P platforms across Europe and his returns on Bondora are outstanding. We have a chat with him about his investing experience.

Andreas Tielmann

What is your background and what are you up to today?
I was born in Russia and since 1989 I live in Germany where I started to educate myself as a tool mechanic. Now, at 30 years old I am an active investor and write my blog about P2P Lending (P2P-Anlage.de) in Europe, as well as share my personal experience.

What was your first investment, how did it go and what did you learn from it?
My first investment was about 10 years ago at Deutsche Bank. They offered 4,5% return on a 1-year deposit. It was a really good investment – nearly without risk, with good interest rates at that time. Years later the interest rates have fallen until today and I have to take some risks to get a better return.

How have you evolved as an investor? What do you know now that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
At the beginning I preferred financial investments with very low risks, like fixed-time deposits. With the time, as I were always financially interested, I searched for investments with better returns. In 2008 I registered at the first P2P platform here in Germany and in 2011 began to invest with small amounts in P2P loans. I wish, that 10 years ago I had learned more about the stock market. A short time later, in 2008, there was a good time to invest in cheap stocks.

Describe your investment strategy? How do you divide your portfolio and what is the optimal allocation in your view?
My investment strategy is currently focused on P2P lending. Because of my focus it’s important to diversify in many loans and across many P2P platforms. Furthermore, it’s important to spread the risks and invest in several countries as well. I think the optimal portfolio allocation is different for everyone – it depends on how much money the person needs and if the person is willing to bear risks.

How much does your daily work and interest influence your investment strategy?
I am a very active investor. I like to analyze different investments strategies and analyze regularly to see how well investments do. It started as a hobby, but now I make regular analysis to see how good an investment was and make forecasts for future scenarios.

Do you prefer short or long term investments? Does that reflect on your personality – are you a patient or an impatient person?
Normally I prefer long-term investments. I do not like investments in which I am bound for many years without an option to exit before the term ends. If an investment is illiquid I prefer short-term. If an investment is liquid I prefer long-term. The liquidity is very important to me, because if something significant changes in the market in which I invest, I can react to the new situation. I would describe myself as a patient person and I like to have more than one option.

In your opinion, what is the best way to start investing?

Everybody should understand what they invest in and what the risks are.

I think the best is to first educate yourself about different investment types. Once you understand how it goes and what you invest in, it’s important to start with smaller amounts to get the experience. Most mistakes happen in the beginning of investments because of lack of experience. So in short – understand the investments and start small.

Share your golden rule of investing with our readers? And is there a particular book you could recommend?

My golden rule is – invest in riskier investments only the money you can afford to lose.

What fascinates you most about P2P lending?
I invest in peer-to-peer lending since 2011 on more than 10 platforms around Europe. I like the monthly cash flow and the idea behind it. Also there are normally fewer fluctuations on the return of capital compared to the stock market.

You’re 30 years today, what has been your best investment so far?

My best investment so far is my investment in Bondora.

Since I started to invest in 2013 my Internal Rate of Return is to date nearly 30% p.a. after defaults which decreases slightly because of the higher default rates. Bondora shows my annualized net return on investment at 38.83%.

Investor talk with Aili Mitt

Aili MittHaving really started her serious investor career on Bondora, Aili Mitt is not your average investor. Now she is looking increasingly on other asset classes to spread the risks. She writes about her investment experiences in Estonian here.

How did you get into investing?
I have always had a habit of saving up, and at one point I understood the saved money just sits there on a bank account with a zero percent interest rate, there must be a better option. Then I read some books and made first serious attempt.

What was your first investment?
It was around 2005 when Estonian bank SEB offered 2-year investment savings which eventually had roughly 30% return. It closed exactly at the peak so it showed a very nice return.

The 30 percent return sounds too good to be true.
The times have changed. I also had a long pause in investing and around 2 years ago I picked the topic up again and created account in Bondora. I invested the first 200 euros, then looked into descriptions and details for a couple of months – after that I set up the portfolio manager, since it was really time consuming to handpick each loan.

Why Bondora?
Mostly because of the ability to make small investments and it offers easy access. It’s very easy to understand how much you invest, where you invest, you can read up on the person on his or her background, and then you get some kind of understanding. Stock market is very difficult for the beginner as you do not really understand what’s going on there.

Now roughly a third of your investments are in shares, what triggered the move and what is your focus there?
Entry barrier is quite high for a beginner there, costs are reasonable from 700 euros upwards per one deal on Baltic bourses. The first deal I made a year ago when I felt I had enough information to take the step and start spreading the risks. At the moment I have in my portfolio Baltic dividend plays.

How deep do you investigate?
In the beginning, when the investment sums were also small, I looked into it and worked out my criteria – decent income, age, education. When I did handpicking I tried to rule out cars and business and health loans.

Have you used other similar platforms?
I make real estate investments in CrowdEstate.eu and EstateGuru.eu

Is it different from Bondora?
Minimal investments are larger and there are less of them so I read through and think and see whether the location is good. I consider whether I would move to the place like this. Do I see someone buying it?

How would you describe your investment strategy?
I am definitely a long-term investor. Everything which is coming from interest rates or dividends I put back into investments – I do not have plans to exit in 5-10 years.

Have you noticed any differences in investment behavior of men and women?
Mostly through education – women tend to have longer perspective, men act on it if they see opportunity. They often make the deal and later see whether it was a good deal or not. Men have also more of the herd effect, a friend invested and so I will follow.

Do you have any or follow any golden rules in investing?

The most important thing – think the strategy through and then stick to it.

Every time you hear advice, someone suggest this and the other one suggests that, you don’t have to run on every detail and run to new platforms with all your money like many people in Estonia do with their pension funds. Think your plan through and spread your risks.

You stress the importance of spreading the risks but still almost half of your portfolio is in Bondora.
I am working on it. The ideal split for me would be having 25% in crowdfunding, 25% in shares and 50% in real estate.

aili-mitt-piechart

What could be the optimal spread when you start investing?
It will always depend on the sums. If you invest 100 euros you use crowdfunding platforms and are 100% there because there is no point to split that money between different asset classes. However, when you start with 1000 euros you could already split it between crowdfunding and shares – the larger the portfolio the more important spreading the risk will become.

What’s the best way to start with investing?
I think my way was pretty good – read through some books and make your first attempts in crowdfunding, you get the understanding pretty quickly if this really is for you. You seek for more answers, dig into blogs and go to trainings.

I think the most crucial is to make that first investment.

Investor talk with Roger Garner

We are continuing with our investor talk series. This week we share the story of our investor Roger Garner who has over 25 years of investing experience.

How did you get into investing?Roger Garner

My first serious investment was when somebody told me about managed funds and that it would be useful to look at those managed funds as against what kind of return I was getting from my previous company’s pension fund.

The managed fund I went into was offering 14% return, while my previous company’s pension scheme was offering me only up to 5%.

And that really was the thing when I went — uuuh, hang on for a minute. I ought to look at those things. I learned that you should be not complacent about investment. It needs periodically checking if you can get better return elsewhere.

A few decades have passed since. How have you evolved as an investor?

I constantly look at new opportunities. 25 years ago I focused on UK investments such as managed funds, then I decided I want to have a more hands-on involvement and moved in to buy-to-let investment properties here in the UK. That was going pretty well, but it dawned on me that the investments were very illiquid, there were costs involved in buying and selling. We were quite lucky, but there can be problems with tenants and so on. And I felt it would be better to be more at arms-length, so what I did then was I started trading on the stock market, generally on the US market because it’s far more liquid. I found that was probably too much involvement. I just could not do it, mostly because US different time zone. It meant staying up late.

I have always read the Economist, that’s were I came across an article on Bondora in April 2014. I became specifically interested because the person who wrote the article had actually invested so it gained more credibility. What I wanted to see was whether the peer-to-peer approach would spread the money wider than a few fund investments here and there. It was quite obvious that investing 5 euros or 500 euros you could spread the risk over many loans.

As an investor what you wish you would have known 10 years ago?

You got to try things yourself. A lot of people I talk to are only getting into the new things, they have no experience. With properties I should have gone in probably 5 years earlier, but I think I got out of it at the right time as house price inflation started to fall and now the UK government is targeting the investment by reducing tax relief on mortgage costs and increasing stamp duty on purchases.

So what I would have liked to know? What’s the next things I should invest in and how do I find out whether it’s the right one.

I am very impressed how innovative Bondora has been. If Bondora would have existed 25 years ago I would be a very wealthy man now.

How would you describe your investment strategy?

I constantly search for new opportunities. I try small investments to determine if it works, to put your skin in the game, but also to review your returns and sell the ones which is the worst performer and with those funds try something new.

How much does your life outside investment world influence your investment-decisions?

I am retired, so the bottom line for me is – I want to make sure the money does not run out before I do. In the other end of the scale, now having two grandchildren I am actually investing also for them and I have two accounts with Bondora in their name because university fees are going up every year in the UK, property prices continue to go up, there are so many people now that are locked out of university education and from getting on to the housing ladder because they just can’t afford it. So I have two investment strategies – one for me and one for the grandchildren.

One is a very long term and one is more imminent?

Yes, but hopefully not too imminent.

So, overall do you prefer short or long-term investments?

To some extent I am an impatient person. My career has been very much hands on – sort problems out as quickly as possible, being responsible 24 by 7 for worldwide operations. I am “Must get it done, let’s get on with it” type of person, but I think with investment it’s not so much short or long, but that I prefer more liquid investments. Liquid so that if particular investment is the worst performer I can get out of it. If it keeps providing good returns I am happy to stay in it.

Being in property investments might have be tricky then?

I had many properties and every three months I would review them. Actually every month I would see what the returns were and if there was one always at the bottom I would wait until the tenancy was over and then sell it. Trying to improve the net return by removing the worst every time.

What is your golden rule in investing?

My golden rule is don’t borrow money to invest.

Save up money that is yours. If you lose it, well that’s okay – it’s unfortunate, but don’t borrow money, don’t take another loan on the house. Make sure it’s your own money.

What’s the best way to start investing?

I would say that the bottom line is to talk to as many people as you can who actually do invest. If they give you their time, use it and ask them difficult questions, ask them the kind of questions you asking me, and obviously inform yourself as much as you can go to seminars, read the papers, read investment books. But then make sure you invest a little across the number of options rather than just go for one, go for a maximum of five if you can afford it. It gives you so much knowledge because you must be in it to win it.

Getting little into many investments is the only way you really learn, you cannot learn to swim by reading a book.

How did you get into P2P?

It was after reading Economist in April 2014. I invested in three: RateSetter in the UK, Wellesley in the UK and the dab into unknown was Bondora. It was very new to me, I was aware of peer-to-peer previously, but did not know anybody personally who had been into it. So I thought to try the three. I even looked at the organizations in the US, and strangely enough Harmoney in New Zealand.

From New Zealand to Estonia to UK to US – pretty much covering the globe?

I have been to 83 countries, I have lived in different countries, worked in different countries and therefore to me it does not matter where you live or where you invest. Don’t limit yourself to countries that only speak your language. Don’t limit yourself to industries you might have been involved in. You got to try it all.

You have been involved in quite a lot – what has been your best investment ever?

Strangely enough, having moved 17 times I have made more money on my own property than anywhere else, including salary. The reason for that is that in UK when you sell your place of residence you do not pay tax on it. There are periods when house prices have gone down but long term they have always gone up. I think my best deal was when I bought a house thinking I would be there for the rest of my life, but we sold it in 2 years because I was offered a job in London and that property in that 2 years went up 100%. It was an old house, I did a lot of work on it, but the price just … wow, it was incredible, I still don’t even believe it today.

Investor talk with Jaak Roosaare

Dear Readers. We are happy to launch our new investor talk series here on the blog, where you can read about the experience and investment philosophies of Bondora investors. First up is an Estonian Jaak Roosaare.

Jaak Roosaare

What are you up to today?

I consider myself mainly an investor and a financial author/blogger. I also help to train students who want to go and sell books in USA. My mission is to help people get better with their finances and build capital so that they could have better life and have more fun in life. That is why I am an investor as well.

What was your first investment? How did it go?

My very first investment was a loan to my mom when I was 10. I learned that if you lend money out, then money earns you interest and I liked it. My first “real” investment was Estonian Telekom shares from IPO in 1999. I discovered that I enjoy learning about companies.

How have you evolved as an investor? What do you know now that you wish you knew 10 years ago?

I first started out very speculatively, this is probably common trait with novice investors. Later as I had accumulated more capital I started to learn more about different asset classes and diversification. Also, I started to focus more on cash flow and less on capital appreciation. 10 years ago I wish I had learned more about real estate – it was a great time to get started in real estate.

How would you describe your investment strategy? How do you divide your portfolio and what is the optimal allocation in your view?

I like to spread my capital around three passive income streams: rent, interest and dividends. I try to keep it balanced. My goal is to grow my assets 10-12 percent per year (using a bit of leverage as well). I try to achieve forever cash or play with house money – if my stock has doubled I sell half and then I play with house money (so rest of the position I can keep without fear of losing capital). Same idea goes to real estate as well.

How much does your daily work and interest influence your investment strategy?

I am constantly reading and learning about investing and luckily this is my hobby as well.

Do you prefer short or long term investments?

I like more long-term projects and focus on cash flow. For instance, I have given out mortgage backed loans that are interest only loans for 5 years duration. Also, I have some rental apartments that will take 10 years to get rid of loans.

In your opinion, what’s the best way to start investing?

Start by reading. I would suggest Warren Buffett biography “Snowball” and also his letters to investors. To start with smaller amounts, peer-to-peer lending is a good option.

Share your golden rule of investing with our readers?

My golden rule is to start early and do not shoot for big risks but focus on passive cash flow. Also, when you start do not focus so much on your returns but adding to your investment capital – it’s better to invest 1000 euro and make 10% than invest 100 euro and make 15%.

Have you tried different lending marketplaces? What fascinates you most about peer-to-peer instrument?

Yes I have – I have accounts in Bondora, Omaraha, Mintos, EstateGuru and CrowdEstate. I like that it gives you access to many instruments that were not available before. Also, I like that you can start small and so there is no excuse not to start.

You’re 33 years old today, what has been your best investment so far?

My best investment so far has been my marriage license in Hawaii (25 USD). On a more serious note, I invested pretty heavily during the financial crisis 2008-2009 to Baltic stock (Merko, Tallinna Vesi, OEG) and that bet turned out very well. Also, I have made nice capital gains and growing dividends from SAF Tehnika. I have got my money back already and now play with house money.

A skeptical investor visits Bondora

Last August Bondora had an unusual guest for 1 month. We were contacted by a student from Stockholm School of Economics, who also happened to be our investor, asking for a possibility of an internship.Madis_Teinemaa

As Madis Teinemaa explained us, he wanted to understand if Bondora was a sustainable platform and could not come up with a better plan than to take a look from the inside. We offered him such an opportunity, briefed him on our confidentiality rules and invited Madis in after having signed the NDA agreement.

Madis spent 2 weeks overlooking the work of our loan analyst team, which receives and processes all loan applications. Then, for another 2 weeks, he switched to our marketing department, to try himself in investor relations and processing investor requests.

“I have been investing since the age of 15. Now I am 20, studying at Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. My main investment experience so far has been with stock exchange markets, but as soon as I came across peer-lending platforms, I started monitoring  them closely and experimenting little by little.”

Madis explained that his interest in Bondora was connected with the fact that he was planning to move all of his stock exchange investments onto our platform. After 4 weeks that he spent with us, his skepticism faded. “Bondora people are constantly prompted to solve new business development issues, which creates a better, constantly perfected product for investors. I am convinced it is a big advantage to the platform in the long run,” says Madis and continues, “what impressed me most of all is the detail, with which the company reviews borrowers’ creditworthiness. All Bondora borrowers have to comply with many requirements (ID, home address and national debt registries being some of them).”

Madis is now continuing his education, while actively investing on the platform and developing his own investment consultancy practice.

Jaak diversifies his investments with Bondora

Meet one of our investors Jaak. He started investing at Bondora in 2013.

Investor Jaak

He is living in Estonia and considers himself mainly as an investor who is also involved with projects in education. The main reason why he decided to join Bondora was to diversify his investments between different asset classes and Bondora provided an opportunity to earn 15%+ return from lending.

Although he doesn’t feel like there’s a need to spend much time on managing his Bondora investments, Jaak still likes to usually check his portfolio in the mornings to see how it’s performing.

You can see the performance of his first 55,000 € of investments from the graph below:

p2p-lending portfolio returns