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市场借贷风险新看

来源:未央网 2015-08-10 09:51 收藏

行业的增长让人惊叹,如今市场借贷已获得广泛接受,并真正成为了资产类别的一部分。随着产业的成熟,风险逐渐减轻,但我仍然相信产业的快速增长和竞争的加速会增加其他风险。

借贷平台利率逐年下降,在一定程度上改变了市场借贷的风险。

几年前,我写了一篇市场借贷应成为投资资产类别的相关文章。行业的增长让人惊叹,如今市场借贷已获得广泛接受,并真正成为了资产类别的一部分。随着产业的成熟,风险逐渐减轻,但我仍然相信产业的快速增长和竞争的加速会增加其他风险。

我认为,今天的主要风险,,源于借贷利率的下降。虽然在2013年利率有所下降(那是我写了第一篇关于市场借贷的文章),但总体来说,利率仍然偏高。今天,利率已经大幅下降,并仍呈下降趋势。预期收益的降低意味着安全系数的降低在许多国家,以下风险已经存在了很长一段时间,并且已被大众所预期,但在利率逐年下降的今天仍值得注意:

贷款再融资

贷款再融资是降低收益的一个因素。贷款再融资是投资者和贷款平台利益冲突的表现。投资者一般倾向于持有贷款一直等到到期日,以获得最大的回报;而平台则希望能够不断发起贷款,以最大限度地提高收入。收益并不互斥。但在最近几年,平台一直积极建议现有借款人低息将贷款再融资。这本身并不是错误(对借款人来说是好事),但投资者应认识到利益冲突的存在,并且他们的贷款可以在任何时间赎回(在利率降低期间对投资者不利,因为再投资回报率将会更低)。Orchard平台最近发布的文章很好地总结了这个问题。

贷款质量问题

随着更多平台上市,竞争压力将持续增强。贷款增长的同时必须仔细维持贷款质量。我的观点是,增长的压力与对贷款的巨大需求这两种压力导致了承保标准的降低。直接的例子包括那些”高收益”产品,和被委婉地命名为”次优级”的贷款。一些业内人士证实,现在有一些平台对借款人所要求提供的文件有所放松。我希望传统承保方式可能足够弥补相对较弱的审核环节。只有时间会告诉我们答案。

部分商业贷款可疑运作

在纽约举行的2015 LendIt会议是大型的行业展示会。会中我遇见了许多有趣的人,也对针对商业贷款的市场贷款平台有了很多了解。但是,有一些贷款业务平台和基金有些过分激进。我并不是想占领道德最高峰,但一些平台的做法真的让人很难判断他们究竟是想帮助借款人还是想利用借款人。其中有一些平台声称高额抵押会缓解大量风险,但进一步研究回收率后,这些宣称便不攻而破。这些当然仅仅只代表商业贷款行业的很小一部分,但我建议投资者在投资前对投资平台或贷款经理进行认真考量。

投资者风险分析

研究平台的风险模型更为稳健,但我估计很多个人投资者仅仅会依赖于对市场借贷的信用风险与信用卡信贷风险的比较反馈做出选择。这种分析模拟方式并不健全。因为在很多层面,循环消费信贷(如信用卡)从根本上与非循环个人贷款(如市场借贷)截然不同。例如,信用卡客户日过每月支付账单会获得奖励,并可以继续使用该卡。市场借贷的借款人却没有这种奖励。因此无需预测便可以知道在下一场经济衰退时市场借贷损失率会超过信用卡亏损率,但我仍会建议投资者在作出决定之前对可能的风险做好准备。

结论

p2p借贷逐渐成熟并向”市场贷款”靠近。高回报逐渐向市场驱动转换。我相信市场贷款将会在相当一段时间提供良好收益,但安全系数正在逐步降低,其他可投资市场也在逐渐减弱。我希望各方努力保持市场借贷的完整公平性,以确保行业长期健康发展。当然,我也鼓励所有市场借贷投资者认识到审慎投资策略的重要性,并在投资时应权衡风险与机会。

细节披露:我建议客户使用针对市场借贷的投资平台,以及Lending Club 和 Prosper 平台的私人贷款。我也是NSR投资的客户。


This financial advisor thinks the risks of marketplace lending have changed over the years in part due to lower interest rates offered by the platforms.

Several years ago, I wrote a two-part guest post about marketplace lending as an investment asset class. It has been truly amazing to watch the industry’s growth and see how widely marketplace lending is now accepted as a bona fide asset class. The industry’s maturation has mitigated many risks, but I also believe that the rapid growth and increasing competition has increased other risks.

The primary risks today, in my opinion, stem from the decline in lending rates. Although rates were declining in 2013 (when I first invested in and wrote about marketplace loans), rates were much higher then. Today, rates have already come down significantly and continue to decline. Lower projected returns translate to a narrower margin of safety. Many, if not all, of the below risks have existed for quite some time and have been widely expected at some point, but they warrant more caution now due to today’s lower and still-declining rates.

Loan Refinancing

One factor that has been driving down returns has been loan refinancings, which represent a conflict of interest between investors and the platforms. Investors would generally prefer to hold performing loans to maturity in order to maximize returns, whereas the platforms are incentivized to originate as many loans as possible in order to maximize revenue. These are not mutually exclusive interests, but the platforms have been actively soliciting existing borrowers to refinance their loans at lower rates for the past several years. This is not inherently wrong (it’s great for borrowers), but investors should realize that a conflict of interest exists and that their loans are callable at any time (which is detrimental during a period of declining rates, since reinvestment returns will be lower). Orchard Platform recently posted a good summary of this issue here.

Loan Quality Questions

As more platforms go public, the pressure to grow continues to increase. Growing loan volume needs to be carefully weighed against maintaining loan quality. My observation is that both the pressure to grow and the huge demand for loans has led to a loosening of underwriting standards. We are seeing explicit examples, such as “high yield” offerings and euphemistically named “near prime” loans. But several sources have also confirmed that at least some platforms are now accepting less borrower documentation than they have in the past. My hope is that the technology used in place of traditional underwriting methods is robust enough to make up for the weaker verification processes. Only time will tell.

Questionable Practices in the Corners of Business Lending

The 2015 LendIt conference in New York (highly recommended!) was a great showcase of the industry and I met a ton of interesting people and learned about many marketplace lending platforms that focus on business lending. However, a few of the business lending platforms and funds were extremely aggressive. I am not trying to be moralistic, but it was honesty difficult to tell whether some of the platforms were helping or exploiting borrowers. A more economic concern is that several claimed that their high-degree of collateralization mitigated a lot of risk, but further questioning about recovery rates called many of these claims into question. This certainly does not apply to the entire business lending segment, but I would encourage investors to research any platform and/or manager that they are considering.

Investor Risk Analysis

The platforms’ risk models appear much more robust, but my guess is that many individual investors rely on some of the public commentary that compares the credit risks of marketplace lending with the credit risks of credit cards. This is an imperfect analog, at best, since revolving consumer credit (like credit cards) is fundamentally different from non-revolving personal loans (like marketplace lending) on many levels. For instance, a troubled credit card customer has an incentive to continue paying their monthly bill so that they can continue to use the card. A marketplace lending borrower does not have that incentive. This is not a prediction that marketplace loan loss rates will exceed credit card loss rates in the next economic downturn (although they may), but I would encourage investors to consider possible losses carefully.

Conclusion

As “peer-to-peer lending” matures towards “marketplace lending,” the high returns of early-adopters are now trending down towards market-driven ones. I believe marketplace lending will provide positive returns for quite some time, but the margin of safety is narrowing and its relative value to other investable markets has diminished as well. My hope is that all parties protect the integrity of the asset class, to ensure its long-term viability. Of course, hope is not a prudent investment strategy, which is why I am writing this and encourage all marketplace lending investors to recognize and weigh the risks along with the opportunity.

Full Disclosure: I advise clients on private investment vehicles dedicated to the marketplace lending asset class, as well as personally own loans on both the Lending Club and Prosper platform. I am also a client of NSR Invest.

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