September was an eventful month at Prosper and for a number of reasons. First, we had the good fortune to have Josh Tonderys, previously Senior Director at Barclaycard US, join the Prosper team as our Chief Risk Officer. He brings a wealth of direct credit experience that will help us scale the platform while continuing to provide strong investor returns. Second, we were listed 4th on The Wall Street Journal’s list of the Top 50 Venture-Backed Start-Ups for 2012. Third, we set monthly records for originations, listings, and cash on the platform in September. All in all, a great month!
With $16 million in originations in September, Prosper continues to focus on providing a high yield, short duration alternative for investors. Which brings us to this month’s commentary from our Chief Investment Officer, Joe Toms.
LOOKING FOR YIELD: DURATION RISK VERSUS CREDIT RISK IN FIXED INCOME
I recently came across an article that quoted Paul O’Brien, head of fixed income at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (with estimated assets under management of $627 billion), that we felt perfectly summarized the challenges confronting fixed income investors today. He writes:
“The return for bearing duration risk is the lowest it has been in our careers. The return for credit risk, on the other hand, is probably average. If you take the history as a benchmark, then it’s fair to say that the return from fixed income is probably better served by taking credit exposure, rather than duration exposure.”
We think this quote confirms the point we have been making over the past year, that short-duration, high-yield portfolios like Prosper’s allow investors the opportunity to generate yield while taking little interest-rate risk.
Consider the historical evidence of Prosper 2.0 vintages that are at least 12 months old. The data shows not only the stability of the different vintages but that, by the end of month 12, the vintages returned to the investor 50% of their initial investment. In other words, through the combination of prepayments, straight line amortization of principal and interest, investors receive a tremendous amount of cash flow early on in the investment.
This high cash flow provides a number of clear and substantive benefits. It reduces interest rate risk while providing tremendous flexibility to either re-invest in Prosper Loans and/or allocate to other promising investments. In short, it allows investors to earn a considerable premium in yield relative to most other fixed income investments with little interest rate risk while providing significant cash flows. While admittedly biased, we think that the combination of high yields, short durations and strong cash flows make a compelling investment case.
More information on September’s monthly performance update can be found here. For further explanation of this commentary or with any other questions or comments, please contact our investor marketing team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-611-8797.