Access Accounts update
Due to the impact of Coronavirus the Access Accounts are no longer operating in 'Normal Market Conditions’. As a result, withdrawals from these accounts are operating slower than usual.
You can view our letter to investors regarding the Access Accounts by clicking here or you can view our frequently asked questions below.
We will continue to update and add to these FAQs as the situation develops. So please check back here in the first instance if you have any questions.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Access Accounts in the Current Market Conditions:
(Last updated 11:00am 17/4/20)
Why are the Access Accounts no longer in ‘Normal Market Conditions’ and what changes have been made to them as a result?
The impact of Coronavirus on financial markets and a significant change in investor behaviour has meant that the Access Accounts are presently unable to achieve the same high levels of liquidity they have enjoyed before this pandemic.
We have seen heightened investor withdrawal requests, therefore we needed to make changes to the operation of the Access Accounts for this temporary period.
An Access Account withdrawal queue system has been introduced to allow withdrawals to continue in a fair and timely way, albeit more slowly than investors have been used to.
Please note: new investment into the Access Accounts, withdrawals from your Cash Account and investment in the Manual Lending Account continue as normal.
What are ‘Normal Market Conditions’?
We define ‘Normal Market Conditions’ on the Key Account Information for the Access Accounts - https://www.assetzcapital.co.uk/invest/our-accounts/quick-access-account/key-account-information.
The impact of Coronavirus has created a situation where ‘Normal Market Conditions’ are no longer in effect, at least for the time being.
When did ‘Normal Market Conditions’ end?
The financial markets had particularly excessive volatility on Thursday 12th March 2020 as a result of the global impact of Coronavirus. In addition, our analysis of the Access Accounts’ behaviour confirmed that ‘Normal Market Conditions’ had ended suddenly on Thursday 12th March 2020 and so the withdrawal system operation for Access Accounts did not operate that day and will not operate in the original way until further notice. We will continue to regularly review this situation and keep our investors updated.
Now that the situation has calmed down we are able to confirm that Access Account withdrawal requests which were made successfully (before the system began preventing attempts to do so) on the 12th March that have not yet been processed will now be paid out as a priority without need for you to make a request.
What is the Access Account withdrawal queue?
The Access Accounts withdrawal queue has been introduced as a necessary measure for this period of time where ‘Normal Market Conditions’ do not apply. This is because it is not possible presently to process all withdrawal requests immediately from the Quick Access Account (QAA), or as they fall due from the 30 Day Access Account (30DAA) and the 90 Day Access Account (90DAA).
Investors will enter the Access Account withdrawal queue when they submit a withdrawal request or their withdrawal request falls due. They will then be added to the withdrawal queue along with any other people who still have any unfulfilled withdrawal requests pending.
Please note that the ‘Invest Idle Funds’ function has now been temporarily removed. If an investor had turned off this function between 12th March 2020 and 19th March 2020 (when the ‘Invest Idle Funds’ function was removed), the withdrawal of those invested funds will not have happened instantaneously, and instead will have been added to the withdrawal queue.
How does the Access Accounts withdrawal queue operate?
During this period of financial turmoil, we have temporarily altered the way in which the queue is processed. This has been done in line with section 20 of our Terms & Conditions which allows us to make changes if we reasonably believe them to be in the interests of the Lending Members, which we do here in the context of our Lending Members as a whole. Given the rapid onset of the current national and global crisis, it simply was not possible to provide 30 days of notice.
The queue now operates using the same distribution method as the Manual Lending Account aftermarket. This distribution method divides the amount to be distributed equally amongst all lenders who have pending withdrawal requests on a per withdrawing account basis. If a lender is allocated more than they wish to withdraw then the excess is distributed equally amongst those who wish for more. Effectively it will try to fulfil withdrawals from the bottom up based on size.
If we had not done this, it is conceivable that a few larger withdrawal requests could completely congest the queue for a period, making it impossible for the vast majority of lenders to access their proportion of the uninvested cash or, indeed, realise any of their investment relatively quickly. It also prevents “gaming” of the system should we have used a “pro-rata” distribution method whereby some investors could place an artificially high withdrawal request in an attempt to gain a disproportionate withdrawal amount to the detriment of others.
The flat distribution of money available for withdrawal across all members in the withdrawal queue is the fairest situation that we could deliver initially whilst the Access Accounts are below a Minimum Operating Level (MOL), which we entered on the 12th March 2020. The MOL is calculated from a combination of factors, some forward looking and is not simply the cash balance in the Access Accounts.
Once we are above the MOL we have indicated that we intend to revert to a ‘First In First Out’ queue system again, serving the oldest queue members first. If we fall below the MOL we will again revert to a flat distribution method of the same sum per withdrawal queue member.
Any new deposits from lenders, of which there are many hundreds of those a week at present, funds a mix of withdrawals and further drawdowns required on existing loans, as above.
We would like to assure you that we are working extremely hard behind the scenes and making all reasonable efforts to preserve and enhance liquidity. However, there are many factors related to Coronavirus and its associated measures which are entirely beyond our control. We ask that investors bear with us as we, and the country as a whole, look forward to a return to normal market conditions. Our priority remains the protection of capital value in your investments, and secondly the delivery of the interest due on those loans. The liquidity of withdrawals from the Access Accounts remains the third level priority as prioritising that would severely prejudice the former two priorities.
When can I request a withdrawal from the Access Accounts?
You can give notice on the 30DAA and the 90DAA as normal right now and as those notice periods expire you will either receive the withdrawal if cash is available to do so or enter the queue at that time.
A withdrawal instruction on funds “Directly” invested in the QAA will also place you immediately in the queue at the time you request it.
The ‘Invest Idle Funds’ feature has been temporarily removed and any funds you had in the QAA via this mechanism are now in the account as ‘Direct’ investment. To join the withdrawal queue, you must place a manual withdrawal request from the QAA. If you previously turned off ‘Invest Idle Funds’, prior to the removal of the feature, the funds associated with that mechanism will already be in the queue. The queue is working now, and some funds have been released from the Access Accounts.
Will withdrawals from my Cash Account be processed as usual?
Any normal withdrawal requests for cash that were not monies held in the Access Accounts in any way will continue to be processed as normal.
What is the speed of withdrawal likely to be?
We cannot forecast that yet, but we will calculate and publish average withdrawal times from the withdrawal queue once there is enough data for that to be useful.
Why can’t I just have my cash back by selling my investments immediately as I used to do?
There is not presently an excess level of inbound deposits versus withdrawals to permit the rapid withdrawals that we have historically delivered since the Access Accounts originally opened. This is due to these no longer being ‘Normal Market Conditions’, as we always highlighted could happen from time to time over the years at moments of market volatility and similar.
The design of our Access Accounts remains market leading, so much so that in ‘Normal Market Conditions they did not need to await specific new investments into an account to permit immediate withdrawals by other investors. Unfortunately, we are not presently in ‘Normal Market Conditions’ due to the impact of Coronavirus.
We cannot give an indication of when the Access Accounts will return to their previous withdrawal speeds at this stage. This is highly dependent on a degree of balance being restored between withdrawal requests and funds becoming available to service them. Presently, the accounts that you are invested in will receive cash from several sources including from new investments by other investors as well as loan interest, repayments and monthly amortisations from borrowers. All of these will contribute to queued withdrawal requests being fulfilled.
I just want to release the cash that is uninvested in my Access Accounts and have that back?
The “pool” of uninvested cash in the Access Accounts belongs to all the investors in the account – everyone has the same proportion of their funds allocated within the Access Accounts that is partially held as uninvested cash. It would not be fair to other lenders in the Access Accounts to grant any one-person disproportionate access to the uninvested cash so all queue members will be treated equally until further notice - joining the queue today versus tomorrow will not create a significant advantage in the short term.
As an alternative investor choice, we are exploring the possibility of an Access Accounts trading feature which would allow a choice to place some or all of your Access Accounts investment on sale at a discount, subject to other investor demand at that price. This would allow you to list some or all of your Quick Access Account holdings (not individual loans) for sale to another investor. Quick Access Account holdings listed this way at a discount would likely sell faster in present market conditions than waiting for the queue, provided investor demand existed at a mutually agreeable price. This is not understood to be available on other platforms and would benefit larger investors wanting to create forced liquidity for themselves via discounts or for smaller investors having immediate need of some cash right away for Coronavirus related reasons for example.
What happens to any 30DAA or 90DAA account withdrawal requests I had already submitted?
They will join the queue when the relevant notice period expires.
Will I still receive monthly target rate interest payments on investments held in the Access Accounts?
Interest receipts from loans held in the Access Accounts will still be applied to the payment of investor interest as usual, subject to the advertised target rate caps.
Please note that there is no way of predicting exactly how much interest will be paid by our borrowers in the coming weeks as they adjust to this new reality and grapple with the challenges.
However, we hold substantial sums in our borrower retention accounts. These retentions are for a variety of purposes but include being able to pay lender interest for a period, even if a borrower stops paying.
What interest rate will I receive on my 30DAA & 90DAA funds whilst they await release beyond the standard notice periods?
As previously, target interest rates remain capped at 5.1% p.a. on 30DAA funds and 5.75% p.a on 90DAA funds
How does the ‘Invest Idle Funds’ function now work?
We have made the decision to temporarily remove the ‘Invest Idle Funds’ function at this time. Whilst withdrawals from the Access Accounts have resumed and moved to a queuing system, we feel that temporarily pausing this function will simplify our lenders’ experience whilst we are no longer in ‘Normal Market Conditions’.
This also prevents a situation where money returning to a lender’s account may be swept into the Access Accounts at a time when withdrawals are operating more slowly than usual, if that lender had not switched off ‘Invest Idle Funds’
Do capital repayments in full, or part, or where a loan has regular repayments of capital, contribute to withdrawal requests from the Access Accounts?
Yes, they do, however please be aware that, at the time of writing, it appears that many banks and other major alternative lenders have suspended funding new loans. This means that we are experiencing reduced loan redemptions in full compared to what was previously expected to have made up a substantial amount of the cash for withdrawals. Therefore, capital repayments are no longer at a material level at this time.
Will the Access Accounts be funding new loans during this time?
The Access Accounts are not funding new loans at this time. Any potential new loans visible in the queue to be drawn soon should not be considered to change this position. Funding of new loans would slow withdrawals and so we have stopped that activity for the time being.
- March 13, 2020