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You can see how my returns have changed, along with my expectations, over time in my quarterly returns posts. When LendingClub went public in December, it was a seminal moment for marketplace lending. Unfortunately, the markets have not been kind to these companies and they are now both worth a fraction of their market value at IPO. It also was the year where cracks began emerging. I remember talking to hedge fund investors back then who, by December of that year, had decided to pause their investments due to unexpectedly poor performance.
Underwriting standards had dropped as the leading companies chased growth. We now know that and were the worst years of this past decade when it comes to loan performance. On May 9, the industry changed forever. LendingClub founder and then CEO was forced to resign amid improper loan sales and potential conflicts of interest. This had a chilling effect on the entire industry that is still being felt today. Every marketplace lending platform was affected by this news and the reputation of the industry took a brutal hit.
While LendingClub has recovered somewhat from that day and the industry has survived its first crisis, it remains the darkest day in my ten years of involvement. The first banks to invest in marketplace loans was back in but by dozens of banks were investing on multiple platforms. While some pulled back after the crisis many more have entered the space today. Banks see both consumer and small business loans as sectors where they want exposure. Many choose to invest via existing platforms, some are partnering with platforms that provide banking-as-a-service to originate loans, and some have launched their own online platforms.
Banks are firmly entrenched in online lending today. SoFi is by far the largest issuer often accounting for more than half the deals in any given quarter. PeerIQ releases an excellent Securitization Tracker every quarter that details every deal in the space. Most, if not all, marketplace lending platforms see securitization as a critical part of their funding mix today.
Now, the innovations that have occurred in the lending space are part of a broader narrative. Fintech is the term used to describe not just lending innovation, but also includes digital banking, payments, money transfers and personal finance.
I would argue that lending is the largest and most important of all these segments but they all come under the fintech banner today. When you look at the unsecured personal loan space there was a void before the likes of LendingClub and Prosper came along. Now, consumers and small businesses have more choice for financing than ever before and have saved millions of dollars in interest in the process. Applying for a loan online was a novel concept in whereas today we can apply on our phones and receive approvals instantly.
The marketplace lending platforms have been the ones leading the charge here when it comes to lending innovation. The one disappointment of the last decade is the lack of opportunity for individual investors, particularly non-accredited investors. Back in I would have thought that by there would be dozens of choices for investors but the reality is you can count on two hands the totality of opportunity today.
It has been quite the journey, these past 10 years. No one could have predicted how the industry would change. The next 10 years will see the banks become ever more involved with online lending and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Consumers and small businesses will continue to have more choice and platforms will have to keep innovating. But the industry is more mature today than it ever has been and is well positioned to grow as the total market keeps expanding.
Peter has been writing about fintech since and he is the author and creator of the Fintech One-on-One Podcast, the first and longest-running fintech interview series. Every morning the LendIt Fintech News team scours the globe for the most important fintech stories of the day in the daily Global newsletter.
The Latin American newsletter arrives in your inbox on Tuesdays and Fridays. This is a trilingual newsletter featuring stories in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. Marketplace Lending is not FDIC insured, so catastrophic collapse of a marketplace will cause loss of principal. Non-systemic risk is a bit different for Marketplace Lending than other assets, since by definition Marketplace Lending is a centralized database containing records of each loan and all the borrowers.
Two examples of non-systemic risk for Marketplace Lending:. Any of these would be detrimental to your portfolio value. If a borrower has paid us on a Loan corresponding to a Note before a bankruptcy or similar proceeding of us is commenced, and those funds are held in the clearing account and have not been used by us to make payments on the Note as of the date the bankruptcy or similar proceeding is commenced, there can be no assurance that we will or will be able to use such funds to make payments on the Note.
Other creditors of ours may be deemed to have, or actually have, rights to such funds that are equal to or greater than the rights of the holder of the Note. Placing a large portion of your investment in any particular asset increases your overall risk, and the solution is to diversify into multiple asset classes. The secondary market is small and specialized, and loan values do not have set prices. This means that the value of your portfolio and ability to cash out may be limited.
From Lending Clubs prospectus , page FOLIOfn , an unaffiliated registered broker-dealer. During , it took an average of approximately four days to sell a note on FOLIOfn with an offer price at or below par. There is a largely-hidden problem in Marketplace Lending known as cash drag. This is the effect that idle, or non-invested, cash has on your portfolio, and it can put a serious damper on your overall portfolio return. It can take several weeks for the entire investment to be deployed, and you will be receiving interest and principal payments nearly daily thereafter.
Over time, cash has a significant chance of actually causing a negative return due to the inflation risk mentioned in 1 above. Assuming you receive an achieve an average of 9. Of course, transferring cash out of your Marketplace Lending account would only make sense if you were going to put it in an alternate investment. Humans are bad at estimating risk.
In many states, becoming a loan officer requires a four-year bachelors degree with a specialization in finance. There are 32 different filters you can apply to each loan in Lending Club. In order to maximize return and pick out the best returns, it takes a lot of time and brainpower to constantly pick out the best loans. Robo-advisors are starting to dominate the investment landscape; they make more intelligent decisions faster and with greater consistency than humans.
You could compare Marketplace Lending to Chess: it takes minimal skill for a person to play and a lot of time and effort to master. Unfortunately for us, machines dominate everyone. The same is true in Marketplace Lending, where the best loans are often snapped up by trading algorithms in less than 30 seconds. Neither Lending Club nor Prosper identify the individuals behind each loan they offer for sale.
The loan could be to pay off a credit card, start a business, or maybe build a really big hot tub. As an investor, it is important to recognize that each note represents an individual asking for money, and each individual, regardless of their credit history, carries the risk of not paying back their loan. A properly diversified Marketplace Lending account offers good returns, low volatility and low asset correlation, which makes it a good addition to an investment portfolio.
Automating loan purchasing to pick out only ideal loans and cut down on cash drag will help to achieve an optimized Marketplace Lending account. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.