Don't invest unless you're prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong.
Risk Summary

Estimated reading time: 2 min

Due to the potential for losses, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) considers this investment to be high risk.

What are the key risks?

  • You could lose all the money you invest
  • Most investments are shares in start-up businesses or bonds issued by them. Investors in these shares or bonds often lose 100% of the money they invested, as most start-up businesses fail.
  • Checks on the businesses you are investing in, such as how well they are expected to perform, may not have been carried out by the platform you are investing through. You should do your own research before investing.

You won't get your money back quickly

  • Even if the business you invest in is successful, it will likely take several years to get your money back.
  • The most likely way to get your money back is if the business is bought by another business or lists its shares on an exchange such as the London Stock Exchange. These events are not common.
  • Start-up businesses very rarely pay you back through dividends. You should not expect to get your money back this way.
  • Some platforms may give you the opportunity to sell your investment early through a 'secondary market' or 'bulletin board', but there is no guarantee you will find a buyer at the price you are willing to sell.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket

  • Putting all your money into a single business or type of investment for example, is risky. Spreading your money across different investments makes you less dependent on any one to do well. A good rule of thumb is not to invest more than 10% of your money in high-risk investments. Learn more here.

The value of your investment can be reduced

  • If your investment is shares, the percentage of the business that you own will decrease if the business issues more shares. This could mean that the value of your investment reduces, depending on how much the business grows. Most start-up businesses issue multiple rounds of shares.
  • These new shares could have additional rights that your shares don't have, such as the right to receive a fixed dividend, which could further reduce your chances of getting a return on your investment.

You are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong

  • Protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), in relation to claims against failed regulated firms, does not cover poor investment performance. Try the FSCS investment protection checker.
  • Protection from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) does not cover poor investment performance. If you have a complaint against an FCA-regulated platform, FOS may be able to consider it. Learn more about FOS protection here.

If you are interested in learning more about how to protect yourself, visit the FCA's website here.

For further information about investment-based crowdfunding, visit the crowdfunding section of the FCA's website here.

Industry Insights

Fact: impact-driven investments can deliver long term returns

All the arguments in favour of socially responsible or impact investing are really ethical based and not financial, right?

Wrong. In fact, that couldn’t be more wrong.

A recent article by Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of UBS global wealth management, finally nails the old myth that investors must sacrifice returns for sustainable and impact investing (SII). 

He argues that the old critics of SII were attacking a “straw man’’ argument, contrasting regular or traditional investing with “exclusion” investing or the exclusion of ethically questionable investments.

For example, the Norwegian state pension fund calculates it has sacrificed 1.9 percentage points of return over the past decade by excluding arms manufacturers, coal producers and other businesses with ethical 'issues'.

However, exclusion investing is an outdated approach to SII. It’s no longer about avoiding certain activities. Impact investing has been added to the mix, so it isn't just a question of not supporting bad things, but of backing good things.

Impact investments are made in businesses or projects that have a positive social or environmental impact, which could, for example, be providing clean water, clean energy, life saving drugs or education. They might also be in traditional areas such as housebuilding, which revitalises communities and provides jobs, training and much needed new homes.

When impact investments are added to the definition of SII, the returns available to the investor begin to look far more attractive. In fact, there is increasing evidence that sustainable and impact investors can at least match, if not beat, the returns of ordinary investors.

Making an impact - and a profit

Haefele points to more than 2,200 academic studies over the past 40 years which have analysed the relationship between environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and corporate financial performance. According to a meta-study by Friede & Busch, more than 90% of them have found that ESG factors have a positive or neutral impact on financial returns. It says:

The results show that the business case for ESG investing is empirically very well founded.

And since 1990, the MSCI KLD 400 Social index, of companies with strong sustainability profiles, has outperformed the S&P 500, with annualised returns of 11.2% against 10.7%.

The studies quoted by Haefele are borne out by a growing body of other evidence.

For instance, there was the survey by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and JPMorgan, which found that 55% of impact investment opportunities result in competitive, market rate returns.

Add to that a new study from Moneyfacts which looked at the performance of ethical funds compared to their mainstream peers over four different time frames and in five different categories or sets of fund. It found that ethical funds outperformed comparable mainstream funds in 13 of the 20 scenarios surveyed.

Read more: impact investing: targeting a financial return and making a real difference

Over the past year, ethical funds have performed better than their traditional counterparts, posting an average growth of 16.8% compared with 15.2% from the average non-ethical fund.

The average ethical fund (30.4%) has also beaten the average non-ethical fund (29.1%) over three years. However, it’s over five years that ethical funds have really excelled, with the average ethical fund returning 76.1%, compared to an average non-ethical fund return of 64.1%.

This indicates that impact driven and SII investments are particularly suitable for investors who are looking for long term returns.

The reasons for this are not complicated.

  • These are businesses which are in it for the long term and so plan to build operations which are stable and sustainable
  • If they are making an impact, then, by definition, they’re addressing a proven market need and usually one which isn’t adequately being met by other providers
  • They exist to improve lives and increase social good and this leads to satisfied customers - and satisfied customers mean a strong and positive brand image, with investors, employees and customers being enthusiastic brand ambassadors
  • They can attract talented individuals who don’t want to work for employers who only care about the bottom line
  • As Haefele argues, such companies are typically less exposed to risks — such as environmental accidents or punishment from regulators
  • High ESG standards can function as a guide to a company’s overall quality of management and long-term sustainability

It’s not surprising then that impact investments and SII investments are proving increasingly popular and have now gone mainstream.

Impact investment popularity is rocketing

Leading investment bank JP Morgan forecasts that the impact investment market will be worth some US$1trn in about two and a half years. Research by ethical bank Triodos shows the socially responsible investing (SRI) market now accounts for £16bn in assets under management in the UK market. According to research by the EIRIS foundation, in 2007, investment in UK green and ethical retail funds was about £8.9bn - and by October 2017 this figure had nearly doubled to just over £16bn, agreeing with Triodos’ estimate.

What's more, last summer, insurance giant Swiss Re announced it was moving its entire US$130bn investment portfolio to new, ethically-based benchmark indices.

Chief investment officer Guido Fuerer told Reuters:

“This is not only about doing good, we have done it because it makes economic sense. Equities and fixed income products from companies and sectors with a high ESG [social and governance] ratings have better risk-return ratios.”

According to a UBS Investor Watch survey of wealthy investors globally, 39% say they already have some sustainable investments in their portfolios. Again, this is only likely to increase, and in a white paper Mobilizing Private Wealth for Public Good, UBS points out that globally, over the next 20 years, some 460 billionaires will be leaving US$2.1trn to their heirs and impact investing is especially popular with millennials.

Read more: 3 key reasons impact investing is soaring in popularity

As the world becomes wealthier and ever more connected and aware of the challenges it faces, people are willing to spend more on making the planet a better place for themselves and for their children. SII and impact investing give everybody – and not just the children of billionaires - a way to tap into this long-term trend. And they can do so in a way which protects their savings, making money while making a difference.

As Haefele says:

“While there is already ample evidence that it does not hurt your portfolio, it is becoming increasingly clear that it can actually help boost your long-term returns.’’
Driving Growth.
Creating Value.
Delivering Impact.

Backed by

Growth Capital Ventures (GCV) is backed by funds managed by Maven Capital Partners, one of the UK’s leading private equity and alternative asset managers.