'There's an opening in property for millennial investors'
The financial hurdles which stopped millennials from investing in property could be cleared with a new investment platform.
That’s the hope of Tom Buttress, the 33-year-old co-founder and MD of FinTech firm Propio.
The entrepreneur has built an app targeted at millennials such as himself, which allows users to invest and - hopefully profit from - property developments, without the financial commitment of owning a home.
“I could see there were a lot of barriers to getting into the property world, none more so than the fact that you need tens of thousands of pounds to pull together a deposit, and you need to know what you're doing,” Buttress explained to BusinessCloud.
The entrepreneur, who has a background in financial services, spent his 20s working in big banks, investment houses, insurance companies and FinTech firms.
The initial idea, which would become Propio, was the result of talks with friends in the property industry.
“Millennials are underserved in the investment market,” he said. “Many investment corporations go after those with the most money, and typically that's the more sophisticated or professional investors, and those who have accumulated more wealth throughout their life, like the baby boomers.”
Propio is targeted at millennials, who want to make their money work harder in what Buttress says is a less volatile and intimidating market than stocks and shares.
Users can choose from a cautious investment, which puts the funds behind built properties with a low loan-to-value ratio, a balanced option, and an ‘adventurous’ option, in which investors back a property development or conversion.
“You put your money in at the start, and after 12 months the loans all pay back, and all being well, receive your capital and your profit paid back into your Propio account,” he said.
Users can then decide whether to reinvest or to withdraw their funds. It’s a method of investment that the entrepreneur says sits between the safety of a traditional ISA and the risk of stocks and shares.
“While you are making an investment and your capital is at risk – and it's an illiquid asset class so you can't always take your money out when you want - you are getting a predetermined interest rate up front.
“Property is an asset class that most normal investors don't have access to, so our plan is education and simplifying this asset for normal people so they can access the benefits.”
Now in its second year, and with a demographic whose financial future should eventually stabilise, the company is considering how to broaden its audience and building business partnerships.
“Assuming that we grow and that we will get to a significant size, we can offer different products and services and brands to different customer bases,” he said.