The introduction

Finnest is a crowd investing platform. For the success of crowd investing it is essential that all parties understand exactly what is happening, when and why. On this page you will find a detailed outline of all aspects of Finnest crowd investing.

Finnest crowd investing is a classic corporate finance tool, innovated for the 21st century. Potential investors (the "lenders") residing in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia or Croatia, offer so-called subordinated loans to select companies incorporated in Austria or Germany (the "borrowers").

The borrowers commit to pay annual interest rates and to re-pay the loan at the end of the term (this is called "hold to maturity"), typically after a period between 3 to 5 years.

Finnest acts as the digital agent between lenders and borrowers. Our Terms & Conditions apply.

The companies (borrowers)

For successful companies, Finnest crowd investing adds an additional financing source on top of their traditional bank loans. Finnest was designed to offer financing without having to create a (complex and expensive) capital market prospectus. Each country has different laws stating how much money can be financed without such a prospectus: in Austria, it is a total of EUR 5 mio (split in tranches of max. EUR 1.5 mio each) within a 7-year period. In Germany, the legal limit is EUR 2.5 mio in total.

The subordinated loans given on Finnest provide companies with long-term, unsecured financing at fixed interest rates. Companies prefer this so-called "mezzanine capital" because it allows them to get more bank loans, often at better rates. They are free to use the collected amount in line with their business and the financing purpose communicated.

In addition, crowd investing often serves as a new and innovative customer loyalty tool. Customers who invest into "their" company tend not only to spend more money on its products and services but they also serve as brand ambassadors, an effective new form of engaging with customers of the brand.

We carefully review every potential borrower who wants to be featured on Finnest. Our team selects only companies in which we would invest ourselves. Key selection criteria are, for example, annual revenues of min. EUR 10 million, a long successful track record of at least 10 years and a profitable growth path. Finnest cannot check the accuracy of the information provided to us! Consequently, our selection must not be mistaken for investment advise or an investment recommendation!

The investors (lenders)

Investors are offering subordinated loans to companies they select. The motivation to invest is as diverse as are the members of "our crowd". Personal interest in the company's brand or products, support of the company's business development, achievment of financial goals and many more. Often, investors have been long-time customers and want to directly benefit from "their" company's success by investing.

Finnest is simple and straightforward:

The lenders decide: 1. how much do I to invest and 2. what minimum annual return am I willing to accept?

What's the average amount invested on Finnest?

Across all crowd investing campaigns, the average amount invested on Finnest is more than EUR 7,000.

In Austria, the law allows private individuals ("natürliche Personen") to invest any amount that is – at most – twice their average monthly net income (calculated on a 12 months basis) or not more than 10 % of their total financial assets ("Finanzanlagevermögen"). For professional investors no such limits exist.

In Germany, private individuals ("natürliche Personen") and private partnerships ("Personengesellschaften") are allowed to invest up to EUR 10,000 into one company. Amounts higher than EUR 1.000 may be invested, if the amount is – at most – twice the average monthly net income or if the lender has liquid assets exceeding EUR 100,000. For corporate investors no such limits exist.

What's the average return rate?

Borrowers promise fixed annual interest rates to their investors. There is no average return requested by the crowd. Each investor "picks" the return that is best for them. Strategies to "pick" the right return rate vary: while some seek to multiply the interest rates for their savings accounts, others assesess the borrower's performance and set the return rate accordingly.

The profile

In order to enter a company's data room (where all the detailed company information is presented) investors must register and create a short profile. Registration takes less than 1 minute and is free of charge.

In order to create a profile, Finnest will only ask for data required by law or necessary for procedural reasons. These (few) data points are protected by leading edge technology and can only be seen by the investor and Finnest. Only the information absolutely necessery to complete the transaction will be transferred to the borrower. We will always treat all data with the utmost care and confidentiality and will never publish it, pass it on to third parties without the user's expressed consent or use it for reasons other than servicing Finnest crowd investing campaigns.

If a user wants to cancel / deactivate an account, we ask that you send us a short email to . We will immediately cancel / deactivate your profile. Please note: you will not be able to access any investment opportunities, archives or other tools anymore.

The investment opportunities

To provide potential investors with as much detailed information as possible, the companies upload the latest company information and data into one of our high-security data rooms. On Finnest, investors are able to access much more information than typically provided.

Depending on the legal frameworks of the different jurisdictions, borrowers must provide master contracts including contractual terms and conditions, the latest annual report, information on distant selling provisions for financial services ("Informationen für Fernabsatzverträge über Finanzdienstleistungen") as well as specific investor information such as selected KPIs, market overviews, business plans etc. In addition, Finnest requests that all companies present more detailed information, such as external ratings, detailed company descriptions and outlooks, marketing information as well as personal statements and contact information of the top management.

Before launching a campaign, the borrower (the company) always defines the campaign framework: the term of the loan (usually 3 to 5 years), the bidding phase, i.e. how long bids are accepted (usually around 30 days), the min. investment amount (generally EUR 1,000), the min. and max. return rates (e.g. from 2 % to 6 %) and whether these returns are offered in cash, in the form of vouchers for company goods / services or both.

The bidding phase

During the bidding phase investors can offer their investment to the company. The borrower (the company) defines the length of the bidding phase, usually around one month. (Our Terms & Conditions state that the bidding phase can be cut short or prolonged. In such exceptional cases, investors will be immediately informed, of course).

Before bidding starts, the company decides whether it will pay the annual interest rate in cash, in service / good vouchers or both. Vouchers usually come with a bonus.

Example: The annual interest rate would amount to EUR 500 in cash. The company offers a 20 % bonus on vouchers. Investors will get vouchers worth EUR 600 every year.

Investors make their bid:

  1. The amount that they want to invest
  2. The minimum annual return rate that they are willing to accept
  3. If the option is given, whether they want cash or vouchers

Example: Investor A offers EUR 10,000 to Acme GmbH and requests at least 4 % in annual interest (= EUR 400). With one click, investor A can change or withdraw her offer at any time. Only the offer that is actually online at the end of the bidding phase is legally binding.

At the end of the bidding phase, after all interested investors have made their bid, the company will select the one annual interest rate it will pay to all investors.

Finnest's "maximum return" principle: No matter how much an investor had actually requested, he / she will always get the highest return rate possible. That means, if the company picks an interest rate that is higher than the interest rate requested, the investor will automatically get the higher rate!

Example: Acme GmbH is seeking about EUR 1mio. Bids ranging from 3 % to 5 % amount to a total of EUR 750,000. Acme's CFO decides that this is enough and selects the 5 %. Every investor who requested "only" 3 % or 4 %, automatically receives 5 %. (Investors who requested 6 % or more do not get a contract but will have a new investment chance next time).

In addition to the standard interest rates, companies offer special bonus payments to their investors (lenders) after they have had an exceptionally successful year. The contract defines certain KPIs that have to be met to trigger the bonus payments.

 

Please note: These bonus payments are not for sure and can be lower than planned.

In exceptional cases, borrowers reserve the right to reject an investor's offer, even if the offer is equal to or below the interest rate accepted by the borrower. Also, the borrower can reject offers, if accepting them would mean violating a legal funding limit. Borrowers are also free to offer only one single interest rate instead of a range to select from.

The subordinated loan

Once the borrower (the company) selects an interest rate, Finnest acts as the company's messenger ("Erklärungsbote") and sends the company's acceptance via email to those investors whose offers have been accepted. The contract is closed once the investor receives the acceptance email. Finnest automatically incorporates the parties' (borrower and lender) information as well as the conditions agreed on (i.e. amount invested, interest rate) into the contract and provides it for download on the platform.

 

All loans provided via Finnest are subordinated ("qualifiziert nachrangig"). This means, that investors have no right to be paid interest rates or to get their invested money back, when and as long as this would cause the company's insolvency. In those rare cases, when a borrower (the company) has to file for bankcruptcy during the term of the loan, the lender (the investor) will only be paid interest rates and will only get back the invested amount after all other creditors (whose loans are not subordinated) have been paid. In rare instances this could mean the total loss of the invested amount. Investors are encouraged to seek professional financial advise and should only invest as much money as they can afford to lose in such rare scenarios.

 

Please note: Crowd investing is subject to considerable risk and can lead to the complete loss of the invested amount.

 

Subordinated loans are unsecured and unsecuritized. They do not provide any corporate rights such as equity or voting rights.

 

As the contractual relationship exists directly between the individual lender (investor) and the company (borrower), a – highly unlikely – discontinuation of Finnest's operations does not inflict on the contract's efffectiveness.

The payments

When a company accepts an offer, the invested amount will be automatically transferred via SEPA direct debit from the investor's account to the company's account (no money transfer over the Finnest platform). Usually, this will happen no sooner than seven days after the end of the bidding phase. Investments from outside the EU (e.g. Switzerland) can trigger additional fees. Investors are encouraged to inquire with their bank.

Also, the annual interest rate payments are directly wired from the company to the investor's account. The first interest payment will usually come six months after the end of the company's business year. Please refer to the specific loan contract for details.

Example: A crowd investment ends in October. The company's business year runs from January to December. Right after the company's annual report has been audited in June of the year following the crowd investment, the borrower will pay interest rates in July.

Please note: The very first interest rate can appear to be lower than expected. The simple reason: most companies will offer 365 / act payments. That means, they pay interest rates for a period running from the exact end of the crowd investing to the exact day of payment. In the example above, this period is less than a full 365 days. Consequently, the first interest payment will only cover a fraction of a full year's payment. The second payment will then be a full year's payment.

Finnest provides all companies with an electronic file containing all relevant payment data. This file is compatible to all standard accounting systems. All payments flow directly between the individual investors and the company. Finnest acts "only" as the agent platform and is not involved in the actual payment processing.

The term and date of repayment

The company sets the term of the loan. Generally, companies pick a term of 3 to 5 years. During that term, the company does not only commit to paying annual interest rates but also to informing all investors at least once a year about its business development.

At the end of the term, the company pays back the invested amounts to its investors ("hold to maturity"). The exact date is defined in the loan contract.

The costs

Finnest is proud to be fully transparent about its costs.

Registering, informing and checking out investment opportunities are all free of charge!

Investors: Only if a bid was successfuly placed (i.e. accepted by the company), will investors pay a one-time fee of 1 % of the invested amount or EUR 25, whichever is more.

Example: Investor A successfully places a bid of EUR 7,000. The one-time Finnest fee is EUR 70.

Companies: The one-time Finnest fee is 2.75 % of the total amount offered or – independent from an actual closing – EUR 9,500. The annual administration costs are EUR 950.

In addition, companies pay one-time costs according to the applicable laws, such as the mandatory legal check in Austria (EUR 1,500) or the mandatory VIB fee of the German BaFin, which totals EUR 38. These costs are not charged by Finnest, but by the relevant authorities and parties.

The taxes

In Austria: Interest payments to investors who are natural persons ("natürliche Personen") are subject to personal income tax. Standard rates apply, the favourable tax rate of §27a EstG (27.5 %) does not apply. Please consult your tax advisor, also about tax free amounts. Interest payments to investors who are legal persons ("juristische Personen") are subject to standard corporate tax rates.

All borrowers (companies) are strongly encouraged to discuss the tax implications of their crowd investing with their tax consultants.

In Germany: Please refer to the respective loan contract and the respective distance selling provisions ("Fernabsatzinformationen") accessible in the company's data room.

Switzerland: Interest payments to investors who are natural persons ("natürliche Personen") are subject to the standard personal income tax ("Einkommen aus beweglichem Vermögen") and property tax. They have to be declared according to the "Wertschriftenverzeichnis der Steuererklärung".

Interest payments to the business of an investor who is a natural person ("natürliche Personen") or to investors who are legal persons ("juristische Personen") are "Aktiva in der Handelsbilanz" as well as "Erträge in der Erfolgsrechnung".

The re-payment of invested money at the end of the term is tax neutral, it is neither taxable income nor taxable profit.