Prosper and Lending Club Advice for New Lenders

Advice for new lenders on Lending Club and Prosper MarketplaceBased upon my recent request, I received some useful advice from several P2P lending bloggers that I was grateful to receive before investing in my first loans with Lending Club. I am also excited to share this advice with other potential lenders. First, let me offer my own advice that I wrote on another site I just started – Five Prerequisite Investments to P2P Lending. I listed out the top five places you should put your money before even considering lending with Prosper or Lending Club.

Quick Tip: if you have not already signed up, use these links to Lending Club or Prosper for a free cash bonus upon account funding.

I received advice from the bloggers at Prosperous Land, Prosper Lending Review, Rate Ladder, Lazy Man and Money, and My Microfinance (link removed because website no longer available). So what advice did these bloggers have for newbie lenders?

Note: All the sections below are quoted directly from the bloggers responses with the exception that the italics are my questions and occasionally the blogger only mentioned the resource by name, so I added the link to the resource.

Kevin at Rate Ladder responded with a link to his newbie advice and this tidbit:

to start with I would stick to 0 current [delinquencies] and 0-1 inquiries in the last 6 months

Lazy Man and Money offered this advice:

What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started P2P lending?
- That the Experian default rate that Prosper gives as a guide really shouldn’t be used as such.
Do you use Prosper and/or Lending Club and why?
- I use Prosper. It was there first and I’ve been a member for a long time. I’m not a big Facebook user, so Lending Club rubbed me the wrong way from the get go, requiring Facebook membership at launch.
If you have a blog, what one post on your blog should someone read before investing in P2P lending and why?
- You already have it with my Revealing the Keys for Prosper Success.
What is your favorite P2P lending resource for information? (not including your own blog)
- www.rateladder.com. Brilliant writer, brilliant thoughts.
Has your overall plan been through changes since you started P2P lending? If so, how and why?
– Yes it has. I went by the Experian default guidelines, but now I go
by the guidelines that are mentioned in my Revealing the Keys to Prosper Success post. I have actually stopped adding new money to lend as P2P represents enough of my portfolio.
Any other advice you would like to include?
- I really don’t have any other new advice since [the post Revealing the Keys to Prosper Success].

Mike from Prosperous Land wrote:

What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started P2P lending?

I wish I had a better understood the risk factors for defaulted loans. If I had known then what I know now, I would’ve passed on my most troublesome loans.

Do you use Prosper and/or Lending Club and why?

I like the marketplace aspect as well as the unprecedented access to statistical information that Prosper provides. My success or failure is based on the hard work I put into understanding the statistics and risk factors associated with my bidding.

What one post on your blog should someone read before investing in P2P lending and why?

Tips for Borrowers
While the post was targeted toward borrowers, it contains great advice for lenders on what to look for in loans.

What is your favorite P2P lending resource for information? (not including your own blog)

Right now, I use the forums on prospers.org and I also use p2pnobank.com to keep track of blog posts. I used to use the official Prosper forums, but they’ve been gutted and are no longer useful for experienced lenders.

Tom and Matt, who both blog at Prosper Lending Review, both responded. First Matt’s response:

What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started P2P lending?

There are risks in person-to-person lendingI always research things out pretty thoroughly before investing in them. When I started P2P lending I had a pretty good idea of the mechanics of how it worked and what the potential returns for in different credit grades. The primary thing that I have learned along the way that would have been really nice to know before starting investing is the relative importance of different items in the credit data. Early on I relied almost exclusively on Credit Grade and # of late payments in the credit history. Along the way I learned the importance of # inquiries, DTI, and % utilization. I now consider # of inquiries to be a very important figure and am considering using it as a potential way of bargain shopping in lower credit grades which I have previously avoided.

Do you use Prosper and/or Lending Club and why?
I use Prosper. I have kept my eye on Lending Club, but to date have not investing in P2P other than Prosper. There are several reasons for this. When I started P2P investing Lending Club was not around, so there wasn’t really any choices other than Prosper. Now, Prosper is the platform that has been around long enough to have a performance track record. Also, I enjoy browsing through and picking individual listings, it has evolved into a hobby as much as an investing experience.

I am looking seriously at the upcoming Zopa launch. They are partnering with Credit Unions to introduce things like FDIC insurance into P2P lending which could have an interesting impact.

What one post on your blog should someone read before investing in P2P lending and why?

For entertainment value, and interestingly enough some people are investing in P2P primarily for the entertainment and social aspects I would read: Prosper Loan scam Story of Jessica Wolcott

For an understanding of the economics of investing in P2P I would read: Prosper: Hands on Education in Risk

What is your favorite P2P lending resource for information? (not including your own blog)

For me primary sources of information are always best. Everything else is just opinion and packaging of that information. I like to go to LendingStats.com to view the raw performance information in a variety of different ways. On LendingStats you can see how others have invested and learn from the mistakes of those who have not done well while learning technique form those who have outperformed.

Although Tom added a few more than the one link requested, they were all quality, so I have included them all. Tom from Prosper Lending Review added:

What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started P2P lending?

I still consider myself new to P2P lending. I was introduced to Prosper by my brother in June so I have less than 6 months under my belt. I’ve been slow to add funds to my account and would recommend the same to all new lenders. That’s actually good advice for any investment. Go in slow until you understand the risks associated with the potential rewards.
Do you use Prosper and/or Lending Club and why?

I’m a member of both Prosper and Lending Club and have written about them both on Prosper Lending Review. In addition, I’ve recently started blogging about personal finance on Lending Club. They are both great companies and have incredible potential. The P2P lending market is growing rapidly.

What one post on your blog should someone read before investing in P2P lending and why?
First, if you are going to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars, I’d recommend you read more than one article. :)

My brother Matt and I co-author Prosper Lending Review. I’d recommend anyone who is going to put money into P2P lending read all his articles. He has some really great advice. In particular I’d recommend starting with these in rough order of importance:

# How does Prosper compare to other investments?
# Prosper: A hands-on education in risk management
# Borrowing money to lend on Prosper: Wise or Foolish?
# When to bid on Prosper loans
# Are all Prosper loans within a credit grade created equal?
# An analysis of pre-payment risk on Prosper loans
# Credit Scores on Prosper – Part 1 of 2
# Why would a borrower use Prosper instead of a traditional bank?

What is your favorite P2P lending resource for information? (not including your own blog)
There are a bunch of great blogs about Prosper which I reviewed here. I also recommend LendingStats.com and Eric’s Credit Community. Several have started adding information about Lending Club as well but, for now, the best Lending Club resource is their own site and blog.

Jeff from My Microfinance posted the advice on his blog (link removed 32/5/2008 because 404), which I have reproduced here:

What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started P2P lending?
How to truly assess someone’s credit risk beyond the ‘numbers’. One thing I’ve learned is that someone who cannot type a decent explanation of why they need the money with minimal spelling and grammatical errors isn’t worth investing in. I would rather have someone who is rated F4 (Lending Club) who takes the time to list the details of the request than someone who is less risky (say an A3) who gives a one sentence sales pitch. Borrowers, as I used to tell my Prosper borrowers within our group, need to treat their listing like a sales call. Put your details and passions out there and the right lenders will flow in. Trust the facts, ask questions when uncertain and let your brain work harder than your gut when lending! Your portfolio will love you for it!

Do you use Prosper and/or Lending Club and why?
Prosper doesn’t return emails, phone calls or address concerns. Not only that, they hide lies within inflated numbers they advertise to people (good old truth within a limited spectrum of time and scenarios if you read the fine print). Lending Club… Within minutes of announcing our move on our (at the time very limited and young blog) blog we heard from Rex, Renaud and Rob from Lending Club congratulating us and asking for feedback as friends of the effort! You want to talk about empowerment, get involved with Lending Club’s effort as they have a solid platform that avoids the sub-prime credit market and focuses on a reliable scope of borrowers with full credit profiles and privacy afforded to all. Prosper… They can go jump in a lake for their lack of caring about the ‘community’ and more about the profits. Prosper used to help people, used to be pro-actively communicating with people… Now they just sit in the clouds. I would never recommend Prosper to anyone based upon several testimonials about the collection process (lack thereof) and lack of service and concern they afford even the best lenders (Fred93 comes to mind) when a problem is discovered. Lending Club is highly recommended by us whether you are a ‘good credit borrower’ or a P2P lender wannabe. It’s safer, friendlier, more privacy-focused and has a far better chance of long term stability and success with it’s management team/personnel at the helm!

What one post on your blog should someone read before investing in P2P lending and why?
I would recommend the passionate example-driven notice of our ‘change of teams‘ (link removed 32/5/2008 because 404). It was a fun-filled blog in which I laid it all out in plain detail as to why we prefer and stand with Lending Club in the P2P battle. I loved giving the kick in the nuts to Prosper when I wrote it. Heather and I cracked open a good bottle of wine that night in celebration of the ‘color change’!

What is your favorite P2P lending resource for information? (not including your own blog)
P2PNoBank would definitely get the nod. Not only does it aggregate other P2P blogs, but it’s very minimalist either as a stand-alone site or RSS feed in your reader. Definitely the Grand-pappy of P2P news in my mind. Another blog that stands out would be Lending Club’s blog as Mike Smith, Maneesh Sethi and other bloggers contribute not only P2P, but Personal Finance thoughts for people to chew on.

Thank you to all the bloggers who responded. And a reminder to all potential P2P loan investors to watch out…
Beware of Bad Advice for Lending

Lending advice for Peer-to-Peer LendersBrowsing some forums, I found several examples of poor P2P Lending advice, so be careful in your reading. For example, on WiseClerk (link to posting) I found Vinnie who gave the good advice of only lending 2-3% of your portfolio per loan and then dropped the advice bomb:

AA and A borrowers on prosper default at a significant rate, so that you cannot make a significant profit. The highest profit, after 9 months default, is on D loans.

Vinnie is talking about three year loans as near certainties after only nine months and stating that AA borrowers are a greater credit risk than D borrowers. Prosper Lending Review reports the average ROI of AA and A loans of 9.5% and an average return of 7.5% for D loans. Kevin of Rate Ladder explains why Vinnie might be seeing great returns to start out on his D loans but they might not last — due to exponential decay. Vinne is using a small sample to make generalizations, but his small sample is doing well so far. He may have picked a few winning Ds and a few lousy As but that does not create a high default rate for As nor a higher ROI for Ds in general. You can prove it yourself on LendingStats.
Good luck to all the newbies in your P2P lending. I hope that you enjoyed this collection of advice.

Anyone have any additional advice? Please post it in the comments. Thanks!

lending, money, investing, Prosper, Lending Club, advice, banking

Photo credits: Laughlin, Solo with Others, and Andrew.

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Comments

  1. RateLadder (9 comments.) says:

    No mention of ProProsper? [Admin: Link removed on September 10th, 2010 because the site is no longer what it originally was]

    For anyone with a knowledge of sql but without the passion to maintain the data, ProProsper provides raw sql access to the prosper data.

    Other than that missing info, I think your post is excellent!!!

  2. Tom (42 comments.) says:

    Thanks for putting all this together. Great work!

  3. Mike (4 comments.) says:

    Since you mentioned watching out for forum posts, take everything with a grain of salt unless they have statistics to back them up. Handwavy generalizations don’t do much good unless there’s some verifiable substance behind them. On Prosper, you can use Prosper’s performance estimator tool or the raw data they provide to verify the claims. When I write about statistics, I try to link to the statistics whenever possible.

  4. LenderBe (17 comments.) says:

    Here are a few other interesting items for new lenders:

    1) The Wall of Sham which details scammers, cheaters, and deadbeats on Prosper.com. Some Prosper lenders have gone to great length to track down some of these people.

    2) Fred’s Blog Fred is one of Prosper’s top lenders in terms of dollar amount loaned.

  5. PLP (31 comments.) says:

    Some of the discussion on this newbie lending topic continues on the Prospers.org open Prosper Lending Discussion forum.

    Here are a couple of choice quotes on the newbie advice post at Prospers.org:

    “A lot of stupid money has been lost and my intuition is that there is a general shortage of new money coming into p—–r, which is causing those listings that are still being funded to be funded at higher rates. However, I was horrified by the Saturday Night Massacre that destroyed the old forums and am even more horrified by their current attempts to censor anything .org related. It feels like I am watching a train wreck in slow motion.”

    “So my suggestion to you would be:
    A) If you want to stay involved in prosper because it is interesting and loosing your $500 wouldn’t bother you too much, go ahead and invest to $500, keeping in mind that prosper is somewhere in between outright gambling and a real investment. B)… “

  6. Sanjay Mohapatra says:

    I need a business loan and i have tried on the internet.I have been getting mails but everybody is asking for upfront payments on some pretext or the other.Please suggest me some genuine funders.

  7. Sanjay, apply to borrow with Lending Club. They don’t charge a fee until the loan originates.

Trackbacks

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  7. [...] Prosper and Lending Club Advice for New Lenders @ Personal Loan Portfolio “I received advice from the bloggers at Prosperous Land, Prosper Lending Review, Rate Ladder, Lazy Man and Money, and My Microfinance. So what advice did these bloggers have for newbie lenders?” [...]

  8. [...] Even as a lender, every bid you make can be viewed Prosper statistics sites such as Lending Stats and Eric’s Credit Community. Anyone can view your return on investment and all the bad loans you extended. For example, you can see Rate Ladder’s or Lazy Man’s rate of return. Note that both have admitted some early mistakes in their lending and helped in providing advice to new P2P lenders. [...]

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  11. [...] RSS feed or browse the site map. Thanks!Tom at Prosper Lending Review may have topped my compiled blogger advice for new lenders by posting advice from 11 people for someone considering peer lending.  The person seeking [...]

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