Today I am exploring the alternative investment Veteran Business Bonds offered by StreetShares. Founded in 2013, StreetShares was built upon the premise of offering business funding to small veteran owned businesses.
These businesses were often ignored by regional and national banks, which led many to seek funding from predatory lenders. By creating the Veteran Business Bonds, they helped these veterans and gave investors the opportunity to earn a steady 5% return. So, you can feel good about your investment and make a little more than your standard CD.
Account Creation & Funding
To start, I opened an account through the StreetShares website (https://streetshares.com). The process was fairly painless. They asked for standard info - name, address, social security number, etc. After we created our account, we were able to fund it. StreetShares uses Plaid (https://plaid.com) to transfer money from your bank to theirs. I've seen this on several other sites, so it would seem like it's been vetted pretty well.
I started with a transfer of $100 (the minimum investment is $25 and the maximum is $500,000). The transfer took 2 days to be withdrawn from my account and a couple more days for my StreetShares account to show the deposit. The good news - StreetShares used the date of my transfer request as our "Anniversary Date" (more on that below). My deposit earns interest daily and StreetShares posts that info on our account. It's kind of nice watching your money grow. Here's a screenshot of my account dashboard.
Discussion with Customer Service
StreetShares' customer service is very responsive. There is a chat window on their site, but they also respond to email.
I chatted with them about the process for determining your "Anniversary Date," which is used to determine when you can withdraw funds. Every deposit made is considered a new purchase. There is a 12 month wait from that date to withdraw your funds without penalty. So, if you wanted monthly income next year, you'd need to deposit every month of the current year.
I've asked some other questions. Updates are at the end of the article.
As a veteran, I love the veteran based theme. It gives you a warm and fuzzy. At the same time, veteran status does not guarantee a good investment. The businesses StreetShares backs do default from time to time. The good news is that StreetShares is assuming that risk. You're receiving 5% as long as they can afford to pay you.
With that said, you will not know if your investment is in trouble until it's probably too late. The warning signs will be an inability to withdraw funds and no one answers your emails or calls. By then, it's probably too late,
Is StreetShares a good investment?
The Veteran Business Bonds are an interesting alternative investment. Unlike stocks and bonds, there's no price volatility. There's no price at all. It works more like a CD in that sense. You deposit your money and collect your 5%. Pretty easy.
It's also a little dull. Since setting up our account, I've logged in only a handful of times. You're not picking individual veterans to back, so there's no homework to do. You're betting StreetShares is doing that for you.
There are some risks here as well. Since StreetShares is private, they have limited regulatory oversight. You need to conduct a little due diligence and review the SEC filings they've provided. They're well funded and growing, but there's no guarantee the well doesn't dry up in the next downturn. Especially, if the main street companies StreetShares likes to back are hit hard by the next recession.
So, in my very simple opinion, StreetShares is a good opportunity for those looking for a return higher than a CD without the brokerage commissions and price volatility of bonds. Just realize there is some risk involved.
As with all of my posts, this is not intended to provide any financial advice or solicit investments. This is only my opinion of the platform, services provided and potential risks we see. For more information please see the services page.
Managing your investments is never easy. It's difficult to navigate the options and ensure you’ve invested your money in the best possible places. What to Invest in Today (WIT), is intended to provide clear, straightforward explanations of the platforms I explore. I started investing in stocks after graduating college in the early 2000s. From there, I progressed into bonds, options and, eventually, alternative investments. Along the way, I earned a master’s degree in Economics from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from UVA's Darden School of Business. This blog is a way to share my experience researching new investments and tracking performance of past investments. Join me and, of course, share your experiences as well. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/bcarruth
I reached out to the team at StreetShares with a couple of questions. Important update below.
Can we withdraw without limits after we pass the "Anniversary Date?"
Answer: Once you hit your anniversary date you have a 2 week window to withdraw funds from your account before the cycle resets. If you decide to leave the funds invested in the account they are required to remain in the account for an additional 3 years before you are able to initiate another withdrawal. You may withdraw funds from your account at any time but will incur a 1% fee on the amount you draw.
Is the 500,000 limit per member or household?
Answer: The $500,000 limit is per member.
Below is the latest SEC filing from StreetShares. I'd encourage you to look through it and pay close attention to revenues, net earnings, cash flow and so on to gauge their performance.
As with 99.9% of start-ups, StreetShares does not make money and relies heavily on Venture Capital to fund their operations and growth.
After being invested for a year, I received an email letting me know that I could withdraw my investment and earned interest. Completed the request and the withdraw was in my bank account in a couple business days. Easy!