Think you need to know everything about peer-to-peer lending in order to invest successfully? Think again.
30 experts reveal their top 3 investing tips in this special edition article below. You will learn from the best in the industry about how to avoid common novice mistakes and collect great returns on your p2p loans.
You may be new to this form of investing, peer-to-peer lending has made a recent surge into the eyes of the mainstream population in both the US and UK and has a lot of room to grow, these are exciting times and great opportunities. But because this investment avenue is still relatively new, it can be challenging to understand – there is always more to learn.
So, we at The Lending Mag decided to interview some of the best minds in the world of P2P lending.
We've interviewed some of the most respected and recognized financial minds within the peer-to-peer finance community. Our experts include Presidents, CEOs and Chief Investment Officers of major peer lending companies and investment management firms. We also caught up with top CFA charterholders, a handful of extremely knowledgeable thought leaders and creators of leading educational resources online regarding peer-to-peer lending and investments.
We wanted to hear the answer to a simple but powerful question:
“If you could only give a novice peer-to-peer lender 3 tips for successful investing, what 3 tips would you give?”
So without further ado, here's an abbreviated tally of the top 5 answers:
Most Important P2P Lending Tips (as voted by
30 31 experts!)
#2 Do your homework/research – 12 votes
#3 Invest in an IRA– 5 votes (* this particular tip was strictly from the US experts & applies to US lending only)
#4 A. Reinvest your returns, don't let returns sit idle – tied with 4 votes
B. Use automation to invest/reinvest – tied w/ 4 votes
C. Make loans on various platforms – tied w/ 4 votes
#5 Prepare yourself for limited liquidity – 3 votes
Read on to discover each expert’s best 3 p2p lending investment tips in detail. You can either skip to your favorite expert using these quick links or take your time and scroll through these expert insights one-by-one.
Peer-to-Peer Lending Tips: Investment Insights From The Experts
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Aaron shared with TLM...------------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. INVESTING IN AN IRA - Along with high-yields and consistent returns, investors can enjoy tax advantages when they open a new or rollover Prosper IRA.
3. REINVEST CASH – As loans are paid back, investors will have available cash building in their account monthly which is available to withdraw or reinvest. By reinvesting this cash into additional loans, investors can continue to build and diversify their portfolio.
Expert Bio: Aaron Vermut is CEO of Prosper Marketplace, one of the fastest growing online marketplaces for consumer credit in the U.S. Before joining Prosper in early 2013, Aaron was Managing Director, Co-head of Prime Services at Wells Fargo Prime Services, LLC. He was a founder and Managing Partner at Merlin Securities, as well as on the Board of Directors and chairman of Merlin Canada Ltd. until its acquisition by Wells Fargo Securities in 2012.
Aaron has an M.B.A. in Finance from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in History and German Literature from Washington University in St. Louis.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Charles shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
By Charles Moldow
I love the marketplace lending model. Already, many investors have experienced how these platforms can help lenders achieve higher rates of return, even as they offer borrowers access to capital at lower rates.
These days, I’m getting fewer and fewer questions from investors about how these platforms work, and more questions about their investment strategies. For anyone looking to move beyond investing for fun and toward optimizing their returns, my advice would be diversify, [automate/adapt], and, if possible, use leverage.
1. Diversify: Once you’ve decided your allocation amount, set yield targets based on your risk profile. Diversify as much as possible: number of loans, loan types, loan durations, note grades, and even lending platforms
2. Automate deployment: The best platforms provide robust data, powerful analytics, and automated investment tools. A key to maximize returns on your strategy is to keep your principal and interests fully invested. Unless you use an automated tool, this could mean hours of manual loan selection.
3. Leverage: If you are an accredited investor and are interested in deploying >$250k, a fund that uses leverage can provide a further boost to your returns
As we wrote in our white paper, “A Trillion Dollar Market, by the People, for the People,” successful marketplace lending platforms will not just disrupt but displace traditional lenders – eventually leading peer to peer lending sites like LendingClub to become significant and stalwart financial institutions.
Expert Bio: Mr. Moldow has his BS degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and MBA from Harvard University.
Builds companies that change markets. Charles is always on the lookout for startups working on the next generation of fintech, martech and consumer tech solutions and services.
His current portfolio includes AdRoll, AuxMoney, BancBox, CloudOn, DogVacay, LendingClub, Lending Home, Motif Investing, OnDeck and Refresh.
Charles has made fourteen successful investments since he joined Foundation Capital in 2005. They include PowerSet (acquired by Microsoft), Xoopit (Yahoo!), Adwhirl (Google), Weblistic (Spot Runner), and Therative (Phillips).
He has been on the founding team of two high-profile startups, Tellme Networks and @Home Network. Both grew into companies with sales of more than $100 million, and had successful exits: Microsoft acquired Tellme in 2007 for $760 million. @Home Network went public in 1997. A year later, Charles assisted in @Home’s $7 billion acquisition of Excite Network.
Charles has always gravitated towards startups and innovation. Three years into his job at Merrill Lynch in the Mergers and Acquisitions practice, he co-founded OnTime Guide. It was 1989 and it replaced the OAG Pocket Flight Guide as the must-have resource for frequent business travelers. He also launched PrimeTime Partners, which attempted to establish a new category of self-liquidating promotions on behalf of advertisers and direct marketers.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Giles shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Take a good look at the track record of the platform in managing credit risk. How long have they been doing it for? Have they been through a credit cycle and if so what happened? If they publish expected losses how well have they done against them?
3. Diversify your portfolio, even if only on one platform, by lending small amounts to as many different borrowers as possible. Some peer to peer lending sites (like ours) do this automatically, with others it may take a bit of work.
Expert Bio: Giles Andrews is Co-founder of Zopa Ltd and serves as its Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director. Mr. Andrews served as Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director of UK at Zopa. Mr. Andrews served as Chief Commercial Officer at Zopa Limited. He co-founded Caverdale in 1992. He set up his Consultancy Business whose clients included Tesco and Tesco Personal Finance. He is a Chair of Bethnal Green Ventures. He is also a Member of the board of Zopa's Italian franchisee and the Japanese joint venture. He has a wealth of experience as a founder and in the investment world.
Under his leadership, Zopa has won numerous industry awards in the UK over the past years, his company has been reviewed and voted “Most Trusted Loan Provider” 5 years in a row by consumers in the Moneywise Customer Service Awards.
Zopa was also voted Best P2P lender in the MoneyWeek Readers’ Choice Awards 2014. MoneyWeek's readers, who are mostly private investors with plenty of real first-hand experience of the financial industry, were given the chance to recognize the best providers out there and voted Zopa “Best P2P lender” in the UK.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Peter shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Diversify - Take advantage of the $25 minimums at Lending Club and Prosper. Unless you have more than $10,000 invested I believe that investing $25 per loan is the prudent way to go.
2. Research - Do some homework by studying the loan history and reading about best investing practices. Nickelsteamroller.com is a great place to analyze the loan history of Lending Club and Prosper and if I can toot my own horn Lend Academy has hundreds of articles that will help you become a better investor.
3. Invest via an IRA - Interest earned is taxed as ordinary income unless you invest via a qualified retirement account. Investing IRA money instead of taxable money is a prudent choice for most investors - you can avoid a large bill come tax time
Expert Bio: Peter Renton is founder of Lend Academy Media, the leading educational resource for the peer-to-peer(p2p) lending industry. His Lend Academy blog is the most widely read website on the topic of p2p lending reviews and through his writing and video courses he's helped thousands of people understand this new asset class. He is considered the world’s leading expert on p2p lending and often consults with companies looking to enter the space.
He is a partner and co-founder at Lend Academy Investments, an SEC registered investment adviser that offers investment solutions to individual investors. It is committed to delivering superior investment performance in the p2p and online lending industries.
He is also the co-founder of the LendIt Conference, the world’s first conference dedicated to the p2p and online lending industries and he is the author of The Lending Club Story, the definitive guide to the world’s largest p2p lender.
Peter Renton has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Fox Business News, the Financial Times, San Francisco Business Times, NY Times, The Lending Mag & others. His writings have appeared on Techcrunch, LearnBonds, NetBanker, Shareable, Free Money Finance, Investor Junkie, and many more. He regularly speaks about peer to peer lending at industry conferences.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Nick shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. You should be prepared to own at least 250 notes; preferably 500 notes to ensure you get the true portfolio effect and don’t get stuck in an accidental risk clustering trap. Given the minimum investment is usually around $25 per note, that means you should be willing to allocate at least $6,250 - preferably $12,500 to a portfolio for proper diversification.
2. Be very nervous about loans with a duration longer than 36 months. Delinquency and losses rise over time. LendingClub has very limited experience/data for years 3-5 of a personal loan (most of their growth has come in the last few years). My personal experience shows that longer tenor loans: (a) tend to attract a self-select higher risk group, holding the credit score constant and (b) 5 years is a long time 4 years out a lot of people just stop paying! (That is my experience from personal loan portfolios over time).
3. Beware very big loans to people with excessive credit card debt. The bigger the loan, the higher the payment. In times of economic stress, big payments are harder to make. Most of my experience with through-the-cycle unsecured credit data shows large ticket size loans suffer the most in downturns. Institutional investors are very hungry for loans, to put capital to work. The lending platforms are going to be tempted to increase the ticket size over time, to meet investor demand. Experience tells me not to demand big ticket personal loans.
So, I would:
- Be sure I can commit $12.5k to 500 loans,
- Limit the tenor to 36 months
- Avoid loans above $15k
I am happy to discuss any of these in greater detail. I am sure other people with have different opinions - I am basing this on my lending experience as a risk manager for banks and personal loan companies.
Expert Bio: Nick Clements is a Stanford graduate, personal finance expert and the co-founder of MagnifyMoney.com, a brilliant website that makes it easy for people to compare financial products, ditch expensive banking relationships and save money.
Mr. Clements believes that banking has become too expensive and complicated, he wants to make it simpler and cheaper.
Before MagnifyMoney, Nick spent nearly 15 years in the banking industry. Most recently, he ran the largest credit card business in the UK (Barclaycard). He also spent 6 years in Risk Management with Citibank, working in New York, London and Moscow.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Dara shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Diversification Within a Platform: Much has been written about the importance of note diversification within a given platform. In fact, Peter Renton of Lend Academy and Stu Lustman of P2P Lending Expert have both penned a number of worthy articles detailing the relevance of intra-platform diversification, and have highlighted the number of notes it takes to be fully diversified. In order to minimize defaults, the consensus among most experts is to deploy capital in $25 to $50 increments across hundreds of loans (the number of loans will obviously increase with investment size).
2. Diversification Across Platforms: The sheer number of marketplace lending platforms has exploded over the past few years. Today, there are over a thousand online lending platforms in China alone. Due to the colossal size of the credit markets in general, there is ample room for an abundance of platforms. Additionally, with platform technology relatively inexpensive, I foresee a multitude of offline lending players moving online. For these reasons, I believe we will continue to experience a proliferation in the number of online lending portals. The net result for investors will be the opportunity to diversify across a wider variety of lending platforms, giving them access to much broader array of private debt.
3. Diversification Across Money Managers: Institutional P2P money managers possess the technology, expertise as well as the algorithms to predict defaults with greater accuracy; thus generating larger returns. This is why a growing number of P2P investors (particularly those new to the industry) are opting to place capital with established P2P money managers. This strategy provides investors with “algorithmic diversification” which can also help enhance returns.
Expert Bio: Dara Albright is a recognized authority in the lending space, highly-respected thought leader and sought-after speaker on topics relating to market structure, private secondary transactions, next-gen IPOs, P2P and crowd financing. Albright has held a distinguished 22 year career in IPO execution, investment banking, corporate communications, financial marketing as well as institutional and retail sales. She is a visionary who continues to introduce rising asset classes and crowd-structured financial products to the Wall Street community.
Albright continues to help issuers, investors as well as financial service providers across the globe capitalize during this unprecedented period of financial industry disruption and regulatory reform. She shares her depth of knowledge at her crowd finance info website.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Jason shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Don't cut corners on the due diligence. No matter how good the historical track record, or secure the collateral, every investment carries a risk of losing some or all of the money you contribute. Check all the documentation and data you can find. If you have a question on any aspect of the investment, don't participate until that question is answered to your satisfaction. If you have trouble getting a response to your questions, that's a big red flag.
2. Know your lending platform. P2P Lending has really taken off lately and there are startups popping up in every vertical. Some are very high quality and show great potential, while others are nothing more than a fancy website. Look into the platform before contributing any money. Look at the track record. Talk to the executive team. Ask them what regulatory vehicles they are using to be keep their offerings compliant. Ask them how their offerings are bankruptcy remote so you don't have to worry about a failed project cascading and dragging down yours.
3. Diversify. This is huge and one of the major advantages of online P2P lenders. You now have the ability to contribute a smaller amount of money over a much wider array of opportunities. A high level of diversification allows you to avoid getting wiped out with individual defaults. It also allows your investment returns to become more predictable. Don't dump all of your funds into one project. Diversify across several different projects, asset classes, platforms and geographies. It's easier than it sounds.
Expert Bio: Jason Fritton is President and COO of the peer to peer real estate crowdfunding portal, Patch of Land. Jason originally conceptualized Patch of Land in early 2011 as a means to help rescue parts of Chicago devastated by the real estate crash. He has been involved with crowd funding legislation since the beginning and worked with Congressmen to lobby for the crowd funding exemptions that were written into the 2012 JOBS Act.
Jason guides Patch of Land’s operations, ensuring that the company’s due diligence practices, legal compliance, and client services are best in class. Previously Jason founded and developed a telecommunications design and procurement firm, managing a major build out for the US Army. Jason studied philosophy & history at Cornell College.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Claus shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Start slow to get a first hand experience of the marketplace with small amounts. Take your time to understand the marketplace mechanics well before investing larger amounts.
2. Diversify your investment across many loans and possibly across multiple p2p lending platforms.
3. When selecting loan terms to invest into, remember that much of your money will be tied in for that term. While exiting via the secondary market is possible on most platforms, you may not be able to sell your loan parts at the time and price you want.
Expert Bio: Claus Lehmann created and runs P2P-Banking.com, a highly-respected industry news website about P2P lending, and P2P-Kredite.com, the largest German language information resource on P2P lending frequented by German, Austrian and Swiss investors since 2007. Mr. Lehmann has moderated a Lendit Europe expert panel discussing the development of P2P lending in continental Europe. Mr. Lehmann and his informative news websites have been cited by the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Finanztest, German TV, Dagensit Norway, Deutsche Bank research and many other respected publications.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Don Davis shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Diversify and Reinvest. Invest in hundreds or more loans of various grades, and reinvest the cash flow. In the 70s, watching your bank account grow with compound interest was amazing. Today watching you bank account grow with compound interest is like walking the streets looking for pennies. It just doesn’t add up. With P2P lending, however, it does.
3. Consider a fund. If you are accredited, consider a professionally managed fund with an established track record managed by a team that has experience managing money through multiple cycles. A fund has many advantages including instant diversification in a large pool of loans, possibly with older higher interest rate vintages. A fund may also provide greater access and liquidity, and save you a ton of time vs managing the entire process on your own. After all, time is money.
Expert Bio: Don Davis is the managing partner of Prime Meridian Capital Management, a firm specializing in the P2P lending space, as well as the president and chief investment officer of Novus Investments. Prior to starting Novus in 2004, Mr. Davis was an independent consultant and advisor to financial institutions specializing in research, analytics, and client retention. As a seasoned industry veteran and skilled investor, Mr. Davis applies his knowledge, conservative management principles, and hands on expertise to the day-to-day management of the Prime Meridian Income Fund, a P2P consumer lending fund with one of the longest established track records in the burgeoning P2P lending space; and the Prime Meridian Small Business Lending Fund, which specializes in P2P lending for high quality collateralized small business loans backed by creditworthy personal guarantees.
Mr. Davis is also a recognized speaker in the peer-to-peer institutional investing lending space recently featured at: Bloomberg, LendIt, ABA conferences, Emerging Manager Forum, AltInvest conferences; LendAcademy, the P2P Lending Investing Summit; and John Lothian News. Mr. Davis resides in the San Francisco Bay area and is actively involved in local charities with a special interest in assisting disadvantaged children, the disabled, and veterans.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Christian shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
I would say to a novice P2P investor, that these three things are absolutely crucial:
1. Look at the track record of the platform, before investing. Does the management of the business have a track record of lending money, and how long has the business been going?
2. Ask yourself 'what am I really investing in'? Many platforms are not much more than black boxes. If you don't have a clear understanding of exactly who it is you are lending money to, and there is no real transparency concerning the underlying loan, then you should be asking yourself whether it is a worthwhile investment. Many P2P platforms today seem to be operating what would ordinarily be considered a fund - ie, a pooled investment. However, with a fund you have audited accounts, transparency as to what the fund invests in, and a fund manager that is accountable to investors. With some P2P platforms you definitely do not have this!
3. Look at what the security is for the loan. If the economy turns sour, or the borrower has trouble repaying the loan, is there security that can be sold to pay back your investment? If not, then you should be looking for a significantly higher return, than secured P2P platforms give you as an investor.
Hope this is useful!
Expert Bio: Christian is CEO of LendInvest and a partner at Montello Capital Partners, and is a qualified lawyer with corporate finance and real estate experience, and has been a principal involved in the business of lending for over 10 years. Previously, Christian was a lawyer with Clifford Chance, and in-house legal counsel for Deutsche Bank.
Christian is on the executive committee of the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL), the lender panel of the Association of Bridging Professionals (AOBP) and the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA); and is a regular commentator in various mortgage and finance industry publications.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Sam shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Check the Platform:
There are a variety of P2P lending platforms on the web, lenders should do some research to decided what type of P2P lending they are interested in i.e P2P Consumer lending or P2P Business/Property lending and then look at the platform and check the platform is FCA regulated (this detail is often at the bottom of the front page of the website) and if it is a member of the P2PFA see p2pfa.info/p2pfa-members.
2. Diversify your portfolio:
On most mainstream P2P consumer lending platforms any funds put on the platform by lenders are automatically diversified across multiple loans to reduce the lenders risk to any one loan defaulting. However in the case of P2P business lending it is often the choice of the lender to select which borrowers they want to lend to so make sure money is spread across multiple loans.
3. Think about timescales:
There are two timescale that are important to think about. Firstly is the money your investing needed for short, medium or long-term? Most types of P2P lending aren't suitable for money that’s needed in short term i.e a few months to less than a year but is best for medium to long terms investments as once money is lent out the only way to withdraw funds is to sell the loan parts on secondary market (if the platform has one) and timescales for the sale of loan parts can vary depending on demand. Secondly if picking P2P loans think about the length of time of the loan as well as the return.
Expert Bio: UK thought leader Samantha Ridler manages the P2P Finance Association (P2PFA) which represents 95% of the UK's Peer-to-Peer lending market and 75% of the Peer-to-Peer Market Invoice Market. The P2PFA promotes best practices for peer-to-peer finance platform, supports members and engages with the UK regulatory authorities for fair and proportionate policy for this emerging sector.
Samantha is part of the European Crowdfunding Stakeholder Forum - an expert group establish to consider the opportunity of harmonizing rules for Crowdfunding across the EU in order to both protect consumers and encourage alternate finance across the EU.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Stu shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Learn a little about Credit by downloading your own credit report. FICO is a credit scoring model and it has advantages and disadvantages. It's easy to learn what some of them are by getting a copy of your own credit report and seeing what you can do to increase your own score. Not all 720 FICO scores are created equal and understanding this can lead to better loan selection
3. Spread your risk by putting a little bit of money in many loans. The minimum is $25 per loan and while I don't do that, it's smart in the beginning to spread out your borrower risk over many loans and it increases the likelihood of positive returns.
Expert Bio: Stu Lustman is the brain behind the peer-to-peer lending and how to get a loan with no credit information resources at p2plendingexpert.com, he's also a Commercial Finance professional and a lifer in Finance. For the last 10 years, he has specialized in Equipment Finance including running his own small broker business and contracting out his services for Commercial Credit Analysis to larger companies that need equipment finance deals analyzed for risk. Before that Mr.Lustman did financial modeling of public companies to determine business value as a trading tool in the markets through stocks and options.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips James shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Use back-testing to make sure you're generating positive alpha. You don't want average lending club/prosper returns (7%ish) if you can get 12%ish relatively easily. While back-testing makes no promises about the future, if the future resembles the past you'll have positive alpha.
3. Figure out a way to automate the process. I haven't even logged into Lending Club in months. If you have to buy and sell every $25 security manually, it simply isn't worth your time.
BONUS TIP: Limit this alternative asset class to no more than 5-10% of your total investing portfolio. There is real risk here even if you don't see it. That's why the yields are so high!
Expert Bio: Jim Dahle, MD, is a practicing, full-time, board-certified emergency physician who has been studying personal finance and investing for years, he really started diving into the field as a resident when he finally got sick of financial professionals ripping him off. Mr.Dahle is the author of the highly-acclaimed book titled The White Coat Investor: A Doctor's Guide To Personal Finance And Investing, his book and whitecoatinvestor.com finance blog are designed to help high income professionals like doctors make better investments and improve financial strategies.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Sam shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Diversify enough to not let no one position crush you.
3. Don't confuse brains with a bull market!
Expert Bio: Sam Dogen worked on Wall Street for 13 years at Goldman Sachs in the Equities department in NYC before his passion for finance blogging pushed him to want to leave the rat race behind and the burnout that comes with it.
He didn’t quit though, he engineered a layoff that basically allowed him to get paid a six-figure sum in the form of a severance package while he built one of the greatest finance blogs on the internet.
He's made and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate and the stock market. As a result, He's learned the hard way that rebalancing and having a proper asset allocation of stocks and bonds is important to make sure that risk exposure is not too great. He also has a keen understanding of P2P lending and his wealth of knowledge and experience is dispensed on his Financial Samurai finance blog for thousand and thousands of readers daily.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Steve shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Underwriting process
3. Borrower origination channels
Expert Bio: Steve McGarry is a builder, growth engineer, and entrepreneur. He spends his days talking about cryptocurrency, programming, and startups. His company, LendLayer, finances students to learn software development.
There’s a new wave of software development education programs known as bootcamps. These bootcamps are extremely competitive, with their students getting amazing careers at TOP companies paying over $150K, within 4 months of the program.
The problem is, most students are fresh out of academia or are transitioning between careers, and almost half of these students getting into these programs can’t pay the $10-20K up front for tuition.
LendLayer's answer to this problem is directly partnering with the top "bootcamps" to increase their growth 2x-3x per annum.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Zack shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Figure out where p2p investing fits into your portfolio: Is it part of cash? Bonds? Or, is it riskier, more like stocks? Depending on where marketplace loans fit in your asset allocation, then you can begin to focus on your investment strategy in the asset class.
2. Create a strategy for investing in personal loans: Once you've determined your overall allocation to personal loans, you're going to want to create and stick to a strategy. Data show that sticking to a strategy typically works better than just chasing returns. There will be times your strategy may underperform but it's important to be consistent and pivot when necessary.
3. Reinvest!: Income producing investments work so well when the income they produce is plowed back into the investment. The compounding nature of p2p loans is very valuable -- make it work for you.
Expert Bio: Zack Miller has been helping financial companies grow for more than 10 years by combining a deep knowledge of the finance/investment space with impactful, hands-on experience with Internet businesses.
He's a business developer and finance writer whose clients have labeled him as an "Investment Content Specialist".
His authored work has primarily focused on helping grow startup finance/investing companies and his portfolio of work includes: Seeking Alpha, Covestor, SigFig, Learnvest, Wall Street Survivor, and Lending Club.
Zack's blog, Tradestreaming.com, includes his insightful analysis of some of the top, new financial tools and interviews with hundreds of leading entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, and academics leading the next generation of finance.
He authored and published Tradestream your Way to Profits: Building a Killer Portfolio in the Age of Social Media (Wiley), a book that makes sense of social media tools for investors.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Joseph shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Understand how diversification works and that you do not have to hold notes in every risk category to be diversified. Holding around 100 notes in a category will diversify you across borrowers within that category with your return and defaults approaching the average of that category. Hold notes in three or four risk categories that will provide the level of return you need at the level of risk you are able to accept.
3. The interest from peer loans is taxed as income which can seriously eat into your return if you are in one of the higher tax brackets. A return of 7.5% becomes just 5% after taxes for those in the 33% bracket. For this reason, peer loans are one of the best assets for your individual retirement account where the interest will be tax-free until you withdraw it.
Expert Bio: Joseph Hogue provides client communication and investment research solutions for small and medium-sized firms in the investment management industry. Core products include: Newsletters & Blogging, Equity & Investment Analysis, and Ghost-writing.
Mr. Hogue finished his degrees after service in the military and got into commercial real estate. After working as an economist for the State of Iowa, he moved back to Colombia where he had previous experience in trade and real estate development. He's a former Communications Director on the Board of the CFA Society of Iowa and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Miranda shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Read the stories: Look for someone who has a real plan for the money and a real plan for paying it back.
2. Boost your returns by adding some riskier loans to your portfolio. While you want a mostly-solid portfolio as the base, you can earn a little extra if you are willing to take a risk. Just don't risk money you can't afford to lose.
3. Watch out for those with "A" credit. Someone with "A" credit who is looking for a debt consolidation loan might be on the way down. Out of the four write-offs I've had since starting to invest with P2P loans, three of them had "A" credit.
Expert Bio: Miranda Marquit is a highly-respected financial journalist and money expert. Since earning her M.A. in Journalism in 2005, she has worked from home as a freelance writer. Miranda began writing about finances in 2006, when she was offered a corporate blogging job and finance writing became her specialty.
Her website, plantingmoneyseeds.com focuses on growing wealth. She shares her knowledge on everything from putting your finances in order, to basic investing, to earning money from home.
Thousands of Miranda's readers learn more about using money as a means to reach their life goals and how to cultivate their finances so that they can afford to live the life that they desire.
Her work has been featured in USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, Consumerist, The Atlantic Wire, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other fine publications.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Marc shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Invest in the asset class, not in the loans. Put simply, trying to cherry pick which loans will outperform and concentrating one's portfolio in a small set of loan is a mistake. While picking loans is not inherently bad, it can lead to a lack of diversification.
2. What's performed well in the past will probably not do as well in the future if the economy tanks. Don't just buy the riskiest loans because of their higher returns. It's true that riskier P2P loans have had better returns, however, that's been in a period of declining unemployment. If this trend would reverse, these loans wouldn't do as well.
3. Make sure your payments are automatically re-invested. P2P loans generate tons of cash. Unfortunately, the major P2P platforms don't pay interest on idle cash. Lots of idle cash drag down returns.
Expert Bio: Marc Prosser is an imaginative, dynamic senior executive with experience growing a company from a start-up to a category leader. In 2000, Marc joined Forex Capital Markets (FXCM) as the firm’s Chief Marketing Officer and first employee. At the time, FXCM had fewer than 100 clients. Today, FXCM is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.
Marc was responsible for the firm's global marketing and communications efforts including advertising, public relations, corporate communications and website development. He assumed the role of lead executive on many product development projects, while launching and co-managing the firm's two most successful joint ventures.
He is Co-founder of FitSmallBusiness.com with David Waring. Technology, finance, real estate, moving companies, landscaping, and medical practices are just a few of the different types of companies that Fit Small Business’s founders have been involved in.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Ian Gurney shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Diversify, both between borrowers and platforms - peer-to-peer lending is not covered by the FSCS and there is a real risk to capital, so lenders should spread their money as thinly as possible. Try to avoid having more than 0.5% of your P2P funds with a single borrower, and spread these funds between multiple platforms.
3. Understand the rates. Some platforms advertise their rates before bad debt, and others after bad debt, some before fees and others after. Income tax needs to be paid BEFORE bad debt so this can have a major impact on a lenders return. Use a p2p comparison tool to compare estimated rates of return.
I hope this helps! If there is any other advice I can offer please let me know.
Expert Bio: Ian Gurney is a senior director for an upcoming software development company which develops bespoke eCommerce websites for SMEs. He also has 20 years of commercial experience in a variety of programming languages as a developer.
In 2011 he launched the p2pmoney.co.uk website which covers all aspects of peer-to-peer lending, and this has attracted national media coverage and is hugely influential within the sector.
p2pmoney.co.uk is the first website to provide independent news, reviews and comparative information on each of the peer-to-peer (and peer-to-business) providers in the United Kingdom. In addition there is a real-time loan and lending rate comparison tool.
As founder of this enterprise Ian was responsible for the technical development, branding, web site traffic growth, web site UI and advertising. Mr.Gurney has been interview by various industry publication, been quoted by national press int the UK, and provided data and opinions to government officials.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Joe shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Read and educate yourself on how to invest in P2P lending. There are sites that can help you come up with a good screen. This will increase your ROI and decrease defaults. It's difficult to know what to look for in a loan when you first started.
2. P2P lending is not passive. You need to spend time to find new loans to invest in. If you don't have time, then start small and see if P2P lending is a good fit for you.
3. Diversify and invest in many loans. That way if one borrower default, you won't lose all your money.
Expert Bio: Joe Udo has a Master of Science (MS) in Computer Engineering from UCSB. Joe Udo left his computer engineering career at Intel behind to become a stay at home dad/blogger at 38.
He earns a living with dividend stocks, rental properties, P2P lending investments and his online/blogging income. Mr. Udo is his own boss, nobody tells me what to do and he's happily spending most of his time being a dad.
His finance blog is retireby40.org and has inspired tons of people to think outside of the corporate box.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Gregg shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Do your own homework: P2P loans are an asset class in the early innings of development. As there is no vibrant secondary market yet to provide liquidity for those who want to sell loans they own, investors need to invest considerable effort to make sure that they are comfortable with the loans they are funding.
3. Avoid drinking the P2P Kool Aide: Marketplace lending is a terrific innovation with a huge future. However, even though the last few years have been great for investors, it should not be assumed that the sector is immune to challenges. Credit cycles will change along with macroeconomic conditions. Make sure you work with a platform that understands financial markets and risk.
- Gregg Schoenberg
Expert Bio: Gregg Schoenberg serves as the chairman of Peerform's board of directors. Besides his work at the Peerform personal loan platform, he is also the Founder of Wescott Capital, an investment and advisory firm based in New York. He was previously head of equities and a member of the executive committee for Natixis North America. Prior to that, he worked in the capital markets department of SG Cowen and served in the Washington DC offices of Senator Bill Bradley and the Atlantic Richfield Corporation. Gregg holds an MBA from Cornell University and a BA from Washington University in St. Louis.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Graham shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Do your research into the type of products and platform that suit you as an investor. Understand the differences between alternative platforms’ business models to enable you to select the platform that best suits your investment criteria. Remember that the higher level of diversification of funds will give you the lowest level of risk.
3. Understand that investments though Peer-to-Peer platforms are different to investments with high street banks. Peer-to-Peer platforms are not banks and interest rates reflect the level of risk involved in the investment.
Expert Bio: Graham Wellesley founded Wellesley & Co in 2013, he is the Executive Chairman and Joint-CEO of Wellesley & Co and plays an active role in the Credit Committee. Wellesley & Co. are officially the Fast Growing Platform within the P2P industry in 2014. Previously, Graham was the Executive Chairman of Prestige Asset Management and created the firm’s flagship agricultural debt fund which was successfully launched in the height of the credit crisis. Before this, Graham acquired ODL Group Ltd which grew to be the largest retail foreign exchange broker in the world. Graham then merged with FXCM as part of the company’s floatation on the New York Stock Exchange.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Emmanuel shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Diversify: by far the best way to lower risk is to diversify and invest in many different loans. Unlike the stock market where each order has a cost, in marketplace lending, it's not more expensive to invest $25 in 1,000 different loans than $25,000 in a single note, so there's no reason to not do the former.
2. Sit back and relax: leading origination platforms make a pretty good job at assessing risks and determining interest rates. So don't over-think it, going with the flow gives pretty decent returns already. Generating alpha requires to use pretty sophisticated mathematical tools.
3. Remember cashing out takes time: liquidity is still pretty limited, so do not invest any money you may need in the next few months, at least until there's a way to automatically liquidate a portfolio (which LendingRobot will launch soon, by the way! 😉
Expert Bio: Mr. Emmanuel Marot is CEO and Co-founder of LendingRobot. Mr. Marot is a serial Entrepreneur and compulsive designer. He served in Marketing at Apple. He served as Director Mobile search at Microsoft. He was Founder of Zenvestment.com. He serves as Director at Algorithmic, Inc.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Brendan shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Diversify Across Lenders. If you prefer to own individual loans, own some across all available platforms. If you invest within a Fund, look for a Fund that diversifies across platforms.
3. Consider Liquidity. If you don’t mind waiting until your loans pay back, then you can own individual loans and perhaps earn a small premium. If you want to be able to exit more quickly, then use a Fund to get pooled liquidity from across multiple investors, not all of whom will want their money back when you do.
Expert Bio: Brendan Ross is the founder and president of Direct Lending Investments LLC, general partner of the oldest and largest short-term small business loans fund. An expert in alternative assets, Brendan has directed the purchase of more P2P-originated U.S. small business loans than any other institutional investor.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Ryan shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Secondly, try to look for an established track record. Many of the early stage platforms are great, and some may even advertise double-digit returns – but when dipping one’s toe into the peer-to-peer space, I’d suggest starting out with the established players. Zopa, for example, has now been active for a decade. Such platforms carry the advantage of having weathered a full credit cycle (or several), and you can be more confident that their credit processes are robust.
3. And finally, the sniff test! If a platform’s interest rates sound too high – they probably are. Does the platform that you’re looking to invest in market itself sensibly – i.e. does it make plain the risks of investing? And how closely is that platform’s interests aligned with your own? In some instances, for example, a platform will in fact fund a portion of all the loans that it originates.
Expert Bio: Ryan Weeks is Editor and reporter for AltFinanceNews, he joined AltFi in October 2013 and has run the finance news website ever since, they often post in-depth peer to peer lending review articles for borrowers and investors. Ryan graduated from Newcastle University with a 1st in BA History.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Brian shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Earning say 6% pa on an unsecured loan to a consumer is not the same as earning 6% where the loan is supported by an asset such as a property, understand your risk adjusted returns.
3. The lending part is easy - make sure you understand how the loan is being paid back and does the borrower have a plan B.
Expert Bio: Brian Bartaby is CEO of PropLend. For the past 11 years with his business Longcross Capital, Brian has worked with numerous property investors and developers successfully structuring real estate funding to meet their ever-changing requirements.
Prior to this he spent 13 years trading and managing FX & Option teams for various financial institutions whilst working in London, New York and Hong Kong.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Graeme shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Consider how much time you are prepared to give to considering investment opportunities and monitoring performance. This should inform your investment strategy. For example, some platforms have good solutions for "time-poor" investors.
3. Diversify! Across loans, across products, across platforms. It's the best way of spreading your risks.
Expert Bio: Graeme Marshall is CEO of Funding Knight and has 30 years of experience creating and building businesses, mainly in the financial services sector, & driving them through rapid growth & change.
Mr.Marshall has primarily been interested in building businesses which bring widespread benefits to others. After 12 years in equity release, providing finance to elderly homeowners, he is now heading a crowdlending business which will benefit both small businesses and individual savers.
His company, FundingKnight, helps people earn a better return on their savings by investing directly in British business. They offer flexible, transparent business loans and believe in fair value for all, passing on the interest their borrowers pay directly to their lenders to keep interest rates for everyone as competitive as possible.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips David shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
-Volume. Have they already originated a lot of volume on their platform (e.g., $100 million)?
-Coverage. Have they been covered in top-tier press, consistently (e.g., Forbes, WSJ, NYTimes, CNBC)?
-Team. Who's behind it? And perhaps more importantly, why are they doing it? (e.g., To turn a quick buck or to build a great lasting company? This matters for the long-term.)
2. Choose your preferred risk/return profile of investment. Not all marketplace lending platforms are created equal. Some provide higher returns in exchange for the investor taking on higher risk (e.g., likelihood of defaults), while other platforms provide lower returns in exchange for the investor taking on lower risk. At CommonBond, for example, we have zero defaults, so our platform would be appropriate for the conservative part of an investor's portfolio.
3. Make bets across several platforms. Investor returns are typically similar by asset class across marketplace lenders. Maybe one - or a few - become break out hits from investor standpoint. Maybe not. Either way, and to manage the uncertainty, spread the wealth. My guess is that returns across platforms by asset classes will remain similar for investors. But to manage the potentially disastrous downside of having all your capital on a platform that ends up not doing so well, then it might make sense to invest in a suite of marketplace lending platforms.
Expert Bio: David Klein is the CEO and Co-founder of CommonBond, a venture-backed financial services company that has raised over $100M to lower the cost of student loans in the U.S. Featured in publications such as Inc Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist, David is responsible for ensuring capital growth, creating a best- in-class borrower experience, and building a world-class team. Prior to CommonBond, David worked in consumer finance at American Express, as Director of Strategic Planning and Business Development, where he led a $250M annual business. David started his professional career as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he advised clients in the financial services industry.
David graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in Politics, Economics, and International Business and attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. David is also a former Board Member of the Bronx Charter School for the Arts in New York.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Tore shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
1. Evaluate the Marketplace. The beauty of an online marketplace is that it is “online” and accessible to all. Given this openness, an investor should spend time researching not only the types of sponsors and projects that have been posted on the platform but also the expertise and background of the team behind the marketplace.
2. Direct vs. Indirect. In the crowdfunding space for real estate there are different models for how investors can invest into the projects. In the “direct” model- the investor invests directly into the sponsor’s offering, executes the sponsor’s agreements, and receives dividend or capital gains payments from the sponsor with no fees. In the “indirect” model the investor is investing into a LLC or other entity created by the crowdfunding platform, which in turn invests into the sponsor’s projects and many times charges the investor a fee.
3. Choice. An investor who builds a direct commercial real estate investment portfolio will most likely want to diversify across asset classes, geographies, or investment types. This could mean having investments in both ground-up development and income-producing, stable assets across all property types at the single asset or fund level.
Expert Bio: Tore Steen is a business development professional with over 15 years experience in selling and marketing SaaS products to media, entertainment, retail, and hospitality industries, formulating and managing strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, and new business ventures.
His company, CrowdStreet, is a crowdsourcing platform connecting investors with Main Street investment real estate opportunities. The $254 billion commercial real estate financing market is ripe for disruption. Investors get direct access to high quality, income producing property deal flow. Property owners have a new source of debt or equity capital to help them acquire, refinance or refurbish their properties. CrowdStreet is like AngelList for real estate. Our mission is to empower individual investors by democratizing investment real estate.
Here are the top 3 peer-to-peer lending tips Sam shared with TLM...-------------------------------------------Top of Page
2. Hold them in your IRA: Along with attractive yields and consistent returns, enjoy the tax benefits of holding P2P loans in an individual retirement account. If your current retirement account cannot accommodate P2P loans, consider opening an IRA through one of the major P2P lending platforms to access tax-free or tax-deferred income.
3. Automate your investing: Save yourself hours of wading through hundreds of loans each week by working with a platform that offers an auto-bid function. Based on your investment goals and risk tolerance, simply set your investment criteria – such as preferred rate, term, risk level, industry sector or region – and then set it and forget it.
Bonus: Reinvest your gains: As you receive principal and interest payments, ensure they are automatically lent back out to new borrowers, so you can spread your money across even more loans and further diversify your portfolio. The last thing you want is cash sitting in your account earning no interest and bringing down your overall return.
Expert Bio: Sam Hodges co-founded Funding Circle in the U.S. after experiencing first-hand how hard it was for small business owners in America to access finance to grow. As Managing Director, he's responsible for overseeing the overall strategic direction and day-to-day operation of Funding Circle in the U.S., Funding Circle also has a large part in taking peer to peer lending international, they have a presence in both U.S. and UK.
Editor's Note: Amazingly practical and insightful tips from absolutely brilliant contributors! The Lending Mag is honored to have been able to interview with you for this first in a coming series of expert roundtables we are organizing.
Even with their extremely busy schedules, these contributors were not only extremely helpful, but they were just as gracious. It was a pleasure and thank you all so much!
If you are fairly new to P2P loans and borrowing, I'm sure you will benefit greatly from the depth of knowledge shared by our experts here. We encourage you to visit their websites that are linked from this article and gain more knowledge from them, each expert, company and website represented here has a track record of high quality and value to their customers. Thus, the reason they were selected and interviewed for this inaugural piece.
Even though we didn't have any peer to peer lending Canada representatives. Peer-to-peer lending in Canada has been growing since 2012. In effect offering a far better option than payday loans in Canada. P2P lending unsecured loans in Canada will surely get more coverage from The Lending Mag in the future.
Please share this article if you think it was useful!
Also, be sure to join The Lending Mag's newly launched Peer-to-Peer Lending Intelligence group on LinkedIn. To learn more about different aspect of p2p, like peer-to peer-lending real estate companies, p2p lending sites reviews and more.
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If You Are Interested P2P Investing or Borrowing:
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