LFP028 – Alternative Finance as an Asset Class with David Stevenson Journalist and Head of the AltFi Empire

David Stevenson

David Stevenson is a journalist extraordinaire and writes for a number of leading publications including the Adventurous Investor Column in the FT, the Investors Chronicle, Money Management and Investment Week, where heโ€™s the contrarian columnist.ย  He also runs the AltFi empire that spans conferences, news and as we heard in LFP010 with Rupert Taylor, AltFi Data. He has also authored a number of books on investment including three for the FT as well as having extensive interests in the visual media world.

David joins us on the show to talk about why it matters that Alternative Finance becomes viewed as an asset class in its own right – a subject that draws together his long-term role as an investment commentator as well as lynchpin of the London Alternative Finance scene.

I must say that I thought that this hypothesis about being an asset class was rather a linguistic point. However, having discussed it with David, I can see the importance of it being so and I hope you will be persuaded too.

Topics discussed include:

– David’s career journey to where he is today

– his long-standing interest in alternative investments as a whole and how that informs his views on the latest incarnation of alt. investment – Alternative Finance

– why Asset Management Fintech is a very small sector (can you think of any firm other than Nutmeg?) – the role of (a) Exchange Traded Funds, (b) the likes of Charles Schwab who sell these for no fees, in this phenomenon

– what it takes to make an “asset class” – the example in this context of how the gold investment market has evolved

– asset classes requiring fungibility, liquidity, transferability, secondary markets, transparency, sufficient flow/volume, durability of counterparties/originators

– how Alternative Finance has been mutating from a series of isolated products into an asset class (cf the debate around the AltFin ISA in this context)

– Alternative Finance as part of a much broader “Alternative Credit” asset class

– why institutions can help the private investor’s interests and what is required for that to happen rather than the opposite

– whether the exponential asset growth will turn out as having come from reduced quality

– Risk in Alternative Finance (see eg my articles for AltFi News on Lender Risk in Alternative Finance or Risk Debt in P2P)

– “IPO envy”

– IPOs as a rite of passage for the industry; the role of being a public company in forcing transparency upon the industry (more important in Equity Crowdfunding)

– our joint view of the scandalous state of lack of data around Equity Crowdfunding – most don’t even publish how many funds they have raised or what percentage of listings have been successful

– where standards of transparency might come from (or not…)

– is innovation continuous or episodic?

– the importance of ISAs in shaping the sectors evolution as an asset class in its own right and the mentality that it will become part of a “normal” investment portfolio in general

– David’s launching of the Journal of Disruptive Finance an academic quality journal to examine the Alternative Finance from a rigorous perspective. Eg what the real impact on the economy is, how disruption works and much more. It will cover “peer-lending, marketplace lending, crowdfunding, equity crowdfinancing, SME finance, fintech, cryptocurrencies, online finance generally including next generation asset management models online as well as strategy and business models prevalent within these fast emerging industries”

– AltFi’s new venture – AltFi Investor – a site dedicated to filling the information gap for investors (platforms having concentrated more on the asset origination side)


All this and much more ๐Ÿ™‚