“We have 20 years of working with advisers and it is really taking that combined corporate knowledge and applying it to a high growth area and making it suitable for advisers.”
Since entering the P2P sector, Mr Handfield-Jones said that nearly 1,000 advisers have registered on the platform, while almost £270m of loans have been funded by investors.
“We talk to advisers about how P2P fits into their portfolio structure and asset allocation process,” he added.
“What it offers is a low volatility yield in an environment where yield is hard to come by and volatility metrics are creeping up. It’s a better yield than cash and you are not exposed to the volatility of the stock market.”
According to Mr Handfield-Jones, the demand from investors for these types of loans has been driven by the rate pressure on Isas, challenges faced by property investors and a desire to help those who are in the decumulation phase of retirement.
Tax changes mean that stamp duty is quite punitive when buying a second property, and as a result, buy-to-let investors are not able to offset all the interest on a mortgage against the rental income.
He added: “It is looking much less efficient. If the market grows at below 2 per cent, you can end up effectively with a 0 per cent rate of return.
“To get a diversified portfolio of property loans, backed by bricks and mortar, is quite an appealing notion for those who would have been a casual landlord but don’t want to deal with the hassle of it, and with the tax changes it become less financially viable.”
Another area that Mr Handfield-Jones said advisers are looking for help is with cash investments.
So it launched an offering called Octopus Cash designed to give clients a better rate on their savings, while making sure they are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Octopus Investments works with a number of smaller banks who, it claims, offer some of the best savings rates around.
Looking ahead Mr Handfield-Jones said the Lab, which is now 100-strong, is continually looking at new products to develop as technology becomes a critical part of the financial services sector.
He added: “Technology is totally changing business models and creating massive threats, but also massive opportunities. Wealth management, financial advice, asset management; these industries are not immune from changes.”
Ima Jackson-Obot is a features writer at Financial Adviser