L5 is the 6th largest lender (pick your favorite stats site to verify) and he was on the large lender panel at Prosper Days. I asked him for insights in the aftermath of the latest debt sale that his portfolio might have uncovered. As a smaller lender I don’t necessarily have enough vision to be able to draw the most complete conclusions. He has been forthcoming and generous. Enjoy.
1. Prosper’s current borrower agreement and collection methods lack teeth in subprime. I knew HR’s would be garbage, but E’s have disappointed, too. I suspect some of this is just macro: subprime is overextended and melting down across the board. Thus, E’s and HR’s are best avoided except in rare circumstances.
2. The higher credit grades are now performing better than mid-credit / near-prime (we already have ruled out subprime).
3. For new investments, AA and A seem best poised for solid (if uninspiring returns); B, C, D would be opportunistically and selectively attractive.
4. Homeowners seem to net $.15/dollar while non-homeowners net $.05/dollar or less. Debt sale amounts have been disappointing to say the least. I think a lot of this has to do with how the Prosper borrower contracts are written and structured — I’ve told Prosper they should have stronger default clauses. For instance, > 3 months late and the whole loan should be callable. This would increase aftermarket bad debt sales amounts, I believe. Ditto there should be more / escalating deadbeat fees.
5. I have been impressed that Prosper has stood behind any loans with bad data and bought them back, I’ve had a few of these. So kudos to Prosper for living up to its identity theft guarantee. This frankly reinforces the higher grade credits where this was one of my bigger concerns — seems Prosper will buy them back in ID theft cases ( i.e., they take full responsibility for ID vetting).
Net for me: I’m going to give it more time to see how my portfolio matures. I expect I will get a high single digit positive return from my portfolio when all is said and done. This is OK (I think I will make money), but probably for me at least not enough of a return to warrant the work that’s involved.
If Prosper changes some of its borrow agreement terms to give them more teeth, I think that would change the game and potentially lure me back in. They just aren’t set up to be bad ass enough to deal with subprime deadbeats at present.
(To be clear, I’ve had some really GOOD subprime borrowers, it’s just that the deadbeat loans are defaulting with a higher % and lower collection figure than I had projected, which washes out a lot of the D and all the E returns I had been modeling.)
Well, live and learn — the community is evolving and I think getting better, net. I just need it to improve a bit more before I’d jump back in.