Hi, I'm Neil Faulkner, co-founder of 4thWay®.
I’m going to explain here how we earn money fairly with your help, because we want to ensure that we are the most trusted and trustworthy source of P2P lending information and comparison at all times. (Hint: it’s got something to do with democracy.)
How we earn money
We earn commission from some P2P lending companies, when people open lending accounts and start lending, after clicking through links on the 4thWay website.
We charge rated P2P lending companies the costs of regularly conducting our highly comprehensive and accurate 4thWay PLUS Ratings, along with the stress tests that indicate the level that bad debts might reach in a severe recession and property crash.
If we receive commission, or if we rate the provider's lending accounts and therefore have our ratings costs covered, we put an asterisk (*) next to any links to that provider. Just so that you know about it. (In the comparison pages, we instead display a note explaining how/if we earn money from it underneath its entry.)
Separately from that – and separately from our website – we also sell credit-risk modelling services, business consultancy, private research services and some data services. All within the same P2P lending space.
We also receive donations from our users and I really hope you will donate, because the website itself very frequently doesn't cover its own costs or even earn enough as a loss leader. It's often more a labour of love for regular investors.
Recently, we have also started to allow some sponsored content, email advertising and website advertising. As you've come to expect from us, our standards are extremely high. Read about that in the Sponsored Content Guidelines & Advertising Guidelines for potential advertisers.
Fellow users nominated by you ensure we’re fair
We at 4thWay® are P2P lenders ourselves who want trustworthy information and accurate online comparison for a change!
But we don't just rely on our own deep desire for being candid and honest.
To that end, we are governed by you through the Panel of Peers. This is a voluntary panel of 4thWay® users like you. They are experienced at P2P lending and have been nominated by you or other 4thWay® users to represent your interests on 4thWay.
The single job of the independent Panel of Peers is to ensure that 4thWay's services are, and remain, highly trustworthy for investors. To reverse that, you're asking yourself: is 4thWay going to cause investors/its website users any harm?
4thWay® is truly democratic. The Panel of Peers can recommend – and ultimately demand – that we make changes to the presentation or content of our comparison tables, and the accuracy of our guides and reports.
It can also tell us to explain better how we make money, or ask us to add more information about the risks of peer-to-peer lending on any page or pages on the website. Or on every page!
So you and your fellow users have the final say about what we do. By nominating (or rejecting) panel members – or by being a member yourself, you help us to keep the website accurate and complete, which also ensures we earn money fairly, without misleading you.
The Panel has already been very busy curating the website on your behalf, ensuring that we don’t forget important details or mislead you. Although we’re not planning to do that!
Editorial and risk-modelling independence
Much in the vein of MoneySavingExpert, we write our own candid views first and then think of getting relevant affiliate links that pay us commission later.
We accept no freebies, unless we also then make a personal charitable donation to the same value.
None of 4thWay's specialist quantitative risk modellers or fund management experts is involved in commission discussions and they conduct their work completely separately.
In addition, we have checklists and regular meetings to ensure that we always remember to provide the whole truth and our real views, without being led to the dark side. This is our number one priority.
We are perfectly happy to stop receiving commission from P2P lending websites rather than being lobbied or intimidated into changing our views or our comparison tables. Indeed, we – and especially I – have written some incredibly negative things about some commission payers. In short, we have no trouble telling P2P sites where they can stick their money if they try to bully or intimidate us.
I personally shield the research from commercial decisions and from lobbying by the peer-to-peer lending companies.
I take pride and, in a way, even have a kind of almost masochistic pleasure in the fact that we stand our ground on independence, and ensure that 4thWay reports the full negatives to you of all peer-to-peer lending platforms that provide enough information for us to assess the risks.
Regardless of whether we receive commission, you will always have access to all of the freely available comparison information, and much more, in neat, accurate comparison tables – with no fiddling.
We do a lot more to ensure independence
We take a large variety of methods out of the psychologists' rule book to ensure that we maintain our independence, integrity and reputation. Just to give you some examples, we have strict editorial guidelines, writers can write their own opinions as strongly as they want, no staff are rewarded based on commission, and we have a monthly brainstorm to decide whether we can do even more to strengthen our defences against the possibility of bias.
Being truly independent and trustworthy is our number one priority.