Q&A: How fractional property fintech Shojin is targeting mass affluent investors

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

James Mumberson, Marketing Manager at Shojin Property Partners, explains how the company is democratising property investment.


Tell me about the company.

The company was founded by our CEO Jatin, who used to be an investment banker and early in his career started investing in property as well.

The company grew organically from that, where he was investing other people’s money as well as his own in property. The heart of the business has always been creating opportunities for other people to make money from real estate and property, especially in the UK, where the only way to get exposure to that sector was owning property yourself or investing in some of the housebuilders or adjacent companies.

The brand’s positioning has grown out of that. It’s always been about democratising the space and opening up access to real estate opportunities and sharing them. That informs our long term mission, which is to become the number one global marketplace for fractional real estate investing.


How do you activate this from a marketing perspective?

Our marketing strategy is very much focused on growing our user base at the moment. We understand that it’s quite a new sector, so a lot of work has to be done in educating people on what we do, especially when we’re generating that demand for something which people might not even realise exist.

There’s a strong focus on growing our own profile, but also for things like partnerships which we’ve done recently aimed at growing the reputation of the entire sector and growing the understanding of what we do.

We’re doing a rebrand at the moment, which has been ongoing for the last 12 months. We’re producing a new website which will hopefully have launched by the end of this month, and we have a new logo tagline and things like that. So we’re building on what we’ve kind of already established over the last decade or so.


Who do you target?

We’ve fractionalised that development loan opportunity so someone can come in prior to construction, invest the money and still see the same healthy diversified returns that ultra high net worth individuals have enjoyed for the last century or so.

We are targeting the global mass affluent investor, of which there’s around 400 million worldwide. These are not people with family offices or billions, but they’ve definitely got a substantial sum of investable funds, maybe as much as a couple of million or even higher.

What they don’t have is the time or the access. So they don’t have the time to study investment opportunities. They don’t have the expertise or speciality to really get into the financials. That’s what we can do through our origination team, who go through dozens of potential opportunities every week. Through a process of due diligence and modelling, we can cherry pick the ones that we think in terms of risk adjusted returns are for the best opportunities for our investors.


How do you target the mass affluent?

For the product we offer, the FCA stipulates that we have to ensure that the investors understand what they’re investing in and they have to be either a high net worth investor or a self-certified sophisticated investor.

Our minimum investment of £5000 means that we can’t follow the model that some platforms or exchanges follow where they try to get huge amounts of market share with people who invest small amounts.

The nuance between the mass affluent and ultra high net worth individuals is the former are still by and large in control of their own money. They might not be working with a wealth manager, or if they do, they’ve still got funds so that they can take control of.

We find a significant proportion of our investors have some experience in property, in that they might be landlords or investors themselves. There is a base understanding of the terminology we talk about and how and why we’re getting our returns.

In today’s economic environment, buy to let is a lot less appealing. If we can educate them on the benefit of paying their money with us rather than self-managing a property, it’s quite straightforward. If you can lay out the benefits, I think that they’re indisputable in this current environment.

There’s a long journey even for smaller investors. Some of them take years from that point of registering on a platform to making the first investment. So there’s multiple touchpoints across that journey. We can’t just target them overnight and hope that they’re going to invest the next day. We have to be realistic about the lead time from an elite investor and we’ve got to focus on producing the content and being in the right places so that when they do reach the stage that they’re willing to invest, it’s easy as possible for them and that we’re available to answer any questions.


What channels do you find most effective?

We’ve been spending some money on Google Ads and it’s obviously quite a wide net. We’re capturing people that are searching for mainly property investment based terms. But there are some really good leads in there.

The challenge is when someone is searching for a property investment opportunities you can’t tell whether they are a high net worth or a sophisticated investor at that stage. So we’re leveraging the algorithm and improving some of our targeting, whether it’s based on geography or time of day so that we can become a bit more kind of informed about who we’re reaching and we’re seeing some real benefits from that.

We’ve just launched two partnerships, one with Linus, a German platform and with Re-invest 24, which is an Eastern European platform.

So that kind of cross-pollination of investors and really, again, just opening up the market, a kind of standardising terminology. How have the different platforms talk about risk? We see that as, going back to the initial point about like, that’s going to raise the profile and get more and more people in the in the sector which which is only going to be a good thing for all the platforms.


What is coming up in the next 12 months?

I think the website is going to be huge and it’s going to give us a lot more confidence in our content creation. As part of the rebrand we’ve got native new collateral designed in a report and our investment documents being redesigned. We’ve got lovely new standards, the offering from the webinars we’ve produced, the emails we send out.

I think we’re going to really approach content production with a lot more confidence that way that we know exactly who we are and who we’re targeting and what the voice is. So we’ve seen a big uplift in the amount and quality, of what we produce ourselves, because fundamentally we need to educate and empower potential investors so that they know what exactly what we offer.

We’re looking to grow not just in Europe, but globally. Only about 40% of our investors are in the UK, so we have a strong audience already in East Asia and East Africa. The most efficient way to enter those markets or other markets similar to those is going to be through partnerships: working with local platforms to cross-pollinate our products and platforms.

That product marketing approach is going to be important for us as the marketing team to continually assess who our investors are and their needs, and feed that back to the origination team to make sure that the products that we’re offering are exactly what our investors are after.

Fundamentally with the economic outlook changing, people might not want the higher return and longer timeframe product that we’ve been offering over the last couple of years. They might be more comfortable with a shorter time frame and slightly lower, slightly less risk, slightly lower returns.

We’ve got to have the ability to try to offer that on our platform; we can’t just become focussed on on one space and on one type of investment. So we will continue to have that feedback between different teams in the company.

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