Average returns in Twino and Mintos

If there is one topic that investors get passionate about, then it’s returns. Looking at the current economic climate, then P2P returns are clearly quite good, but the somewhat downwards trend you can see happening is clearly causing dismay among investors.

Way back when, when I started investing in Bondora, it was completely possible to get 20% returns yearly due to the fact that the market was both new (therefor high risk), and pricing was vague at best (due to lack of precise credit models). However, in the recent few years the industry has clearly evolved to be more mature and less inefficient, bringing to investors loans with buy-back guarantees, which at times might have left beginners the impression that there isn’t much inherent risk left anymore when it comes to investing into P2P (which is clearly not the case).

The two favourites of the recent year or so have clearly been the two Latvian portals – Mintos and Twino, which offered large loan volumes with buy-back guarantees. For a while the interest rates were high enough that many people were a bit confused as to why the rates were that high, and were sure that the rates would be dropping in the near future.

It seems that we are somewhat starting to reach the point where returns will not be as high as they were anymore, and this is of course both good and bad – for investors who enjoy higher risks, the reduced returns are of course bothersome, for more conservative investors the lowered level of risk will of course be more appealing.

Twino

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Twino has already gone through one attempt to reduce the interest rates, which caused significant uproar among investors. They attempted to drop the interest rates to 10%, which caused investors to reduce their investments, which made them increase the rates once more, but they are still not back to the point where they started at (they used to be 12,9% & 14,9%; however now are 10-12% & 13% respectively.)

This means that while it’s still possible to generate >10% returns, then looking at the loan volumes they process the question arises – for how long? Since Twino is closing in on 10 million loans funded per month, then clearly there is enough investor money to go around, meaning when the higher interest loans run out, then the lower interest loans will get funded as well. Once enough get funded regularly, it would be reasonable to expect a drop in the rates.

Interestingly enough, a lot of investors in Twino seems to be super cautious about the longer term loans (24 months), which in my opinion seems a bit unfounded – largely because 1) they are resellable 2) a large amount of them get bought back early, meaning it’s not such a big commitment.

Mintos

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Now, with Mintos, the dynamic for the rates is a bit more complicated since different loan originators balance the interest rates between what they themselves believe to be fair and what the other originators are offering. This so far has caused a sort of a hierarchy to form between the different originators, meaning some loans disappear from the market very quickly (or get marked full by autobidders) while some remain “waiting” on the primary market.

While there have been fluctuations here and there between the interest rates offered, then it’s clear to see that the amount of loans with a buyback guarantee has been slowly but surely decreasing, meaning that investors are forced to do some more in depth analysis to figure out whether or not they should include lower rate buy-back loans or higher rate ordinary loans, which is rather complicated to do due to the lack of public information about the loan books of the originators.

Future of returns

Twino and Mintos do not exist in a vacuum – the amount of investor money available is dependent on the amount of projects listed on alternative sites and the returns offered there. However, if you look at the average returns offered by other portals, then >12% returns will be more and more unlikely as time goes on.

Just looking at the Estonian portals available, then Estateguru historical returns are <11%, for Bondora they have said they wish to hit 10% returns, for Investly the returns are <9%. Higher returns are offered by P2P portals which include more risk or a more complex model (Crowdestate for example inherently has much more risk, Omaraha’s premium for returns makes sense if you consider the fact that they have no proper exit mechanism available and the learning curve is rather steep).

It’s of course difficult to make predictions about the future, and how the markets behave, but I do believe that we are likely to be hitting the downwards slope of returns, which will in the long run bring us closer together to US/UK/Central European returns for P2P portals.

On the one hand this means a bigger faith by investors (investing their money at a lower rate), and a reduced risk rate (due to growth of the whole sector), on the other hand this will signify lower returns, and higher efficiency on the markets, meaning the >20% returns several investors have achieved are likely to be in the past. As someone who does believe that the effort/risk vs returns have been off balance so far, the returns lowering a bit is not an unexpected development.

Bondora private portfolio exit status

One of the changes that happened in my P2P portfolio this summer was exiting my private portfolio in Bondora. I know that I planned to postpone this due to tax reasons, but the portfolio was not really shrinking quickly enough from just normal paybacks, so I decided to pull the plug and sell off my current loans, and some of the defaulted loans which seemed unlikely to ever start making payments.

Before I get into the numbers of how it went, I’ll make one thing clear – my exit is far from ideal since Bondora is a long term investment, and exiting at the 3 year mark from a portfolio that was still in heavy growth phase is clearly not ideal. I haven’t completely stopped investing into Bondora, I did build up a small portfolio for my business account, so I still have some faith in them, but it was more reasonable to exit my private portfolio since the tax obligation would have been ridiculously big otherwise.

Selling off loans – how did it go?

I was lucky in the sense that I had a lot of very interesting oldschool loans from way back when, when the rating system was flaky at best, therefore I got to sell a significant amount of loans at a reasonable premium. However, overall, I’d say that currently selling loans is not a particularly easy task if you wish to do so at a premium. For most loans the premium ended up being in the 3% range, which is clearly less than was once expected from secondary market liquidity. I did sell off some 60+ defaulted loans as well, which I felt were completely hopeless (and had been marked as write-offs), but that obviously hit the portfolio value hard, and it’s difficult to predict whether any recovery would have happened.

Totals & XIRR

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As it stands, at this point I’ve transferred out 5,6K euros out of the originally added 5k euros, which means I’ve at least gotten my money back. Here is where it gets complicated though – the majority of the theoretical future returns are stuck underneath defaulted loans, that are showing very slow recovery. At best the loans pay a few cents monthly, and even the ones that are paying aren’t really impressing me due to the DCA costs currently linked to recovery.

I recalculated my pre-tax XIRR this morning and it’s clearly nothing too impressive. While recovery will end up pulling up the total returns number, then I am less than optimistic when it comes to reaching two-figure returns. The assumptions I’m using for the XIRR calculation are – -30% discount for delayed loans, 10% yearly recovery for defaulted loans. Unless magic starts happening then Bondora will end up being a learning lesson with little economic upside.

While I will keep Bondora in my business portfolio, I am not adding in more money at the moment, since other P2P portals are offering much better risk adjusted returns with significantly less hassle. If this return were with no time spent on managing my portfolio I’d be OK with it, but expecting to land at somewhere in the 8%-range is too low for the active involvement required now (even discounting the fact that I really did exit at a rather bad time, giving well-performing loans little time to compensate for losses from defaults.) Here’s to hoping the recovery is impressive in the long term!

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Twino and Mintos portfolios, 6m

The great Latvian face-off! How has it been going? Time to take a look.statustwino

Twino

So, when it comes to Twino the original plan was to have short term loans only to balance out the fact that most other of my investments are long term (such as Bondora and Omaraha). At start it was working well, but Twino has been playing around with interest rates quite a bit, so I’ve adjusted my plan a bit and ended up investing into longer term loans (since they offer 13% interest at the moment) and keeping only a part of the portfolio in very short term loans.

The interest difference of course isn’t that much, but realistically the likelihood that I would have to take out all of the money quickly enough for it to matter is small enough to be probably quite irrelevant. If I just need to cash out quickly then there is a somewhat functioning secondary market, and I’m keeping enough money in cash to not really be worried about the slightly reduced liquidity. Overall, I think they’ve managed to find a place in the Baltic P2P market and will prove to do well in long term too.

Mintos

statusmintosNow, when it comes to Mintos, then I buried my plan of investing only into short term loans way before I did with Twino. I do have two autobidders running, one of them catching shorter term loans, but with mogo offering 13,5% with buyback as well, there isn’t really too much of a reason to diversify that much across different loan providers (especially considering the fact that I have investments in other portals as well). So if I look at the balance of my portfolio right now, then about 75% of the loans are mogo car loans with long deadlines.

When it comes to the volume, neither Twino or Mintos have had issues. Whenever I add more money, it gets invested in minutes, and I can see why a lot of people who start on either of these sites don’t really feel the need to diversify across too many more portals. Overall if I look at the 5 core portals in my P2P portfolio, then by portfolio value the division would be Bondora > Crowdestate > Omaraha > Mintos > Twino. A couple of months ago the first three were trailing ahead quite a lot, but I’m letting the last two catch up since I think they’ve both proven their value in both the volumes provided, with transparent data & expansion plans and just overall great communication. To sum up, I’d say that they have both been worthy additions to my P2P portfolio.

Panel: Risks and opportunities in P2P lending

Monday there was a pretty cool panel about the risks and opportunities in P2P lending. The panel members were the CEO’s of Bondora, Mintos, Moneyzen and Twino and myself. The panel was held in English and I think we got a pretty good discussion going about what is happening in P2P.

You can now see the panel on Youtube as well, so take a look! (Discussion starts about 5 minutes in.)

Buyback for P2P loans, how does it work?

When choosing a P2P platform to invest into, buyback has become a significant vote in favour of some sites. Others, however, are a bit suspicious and wonder how guaranteed return makes economic sense. This is a topic that I get a fair bit of questions about, and I was in the camp of those wondering where the catch was at start as well. However, this is the reason you do background checks – to figure out how the economic model of certain sites works and whether or not it makes sense.

Different options of buyback

Currently I invest on three different P2P sites that offer a buyback option. The Latvian sites Twino and Mintos offer a buyback campaign that purchases back delinquent loans. For Mintos the deadline is 60 days, for Twino the deadline is 30 days delinquent. (This seems to be a bit earlier at times, since I’ve been seen buybacks from both sites already.) The Estonian site Omaraha also offers a kind of a buyback – for them it’s a principal buyback in the value of ~60% of the remaining principal. Both Twino and Mintos however also pay out the interest you have earned. So, in theory for both of those sites it’s as near to guaranteed return as it can get in P2P, how does it make financial sense?

How do the numbers work?

The biggest question that you should be asking when it comes to buyback is this – how does the business still make a profit? This is the key issue – they have to be making profit off the loans otherwise the buyback would not be sustainable in case of an economic downturn. This means that despite the fact that some of the profits earned off loans are paid out to investors, the business still earns some.buyback For both the Latvian sites the % you earn is in the ranges of 12-15% return on a yearly basis. This means that clearly the actual loan rate for the people taking out the loans has to be significantly higher to justify such a payout model. For Twino the loans are payday loans, meaning the interest rates are likely to reach up to 100%, for Mintos some of the loans are for example car loans, that are likely to go up to 30% per year. In addition to the overhead interest any and all penalties, extra interest and fees are also placed on top of the interest that you earn as an investor. This means that buyback is viable only for loans that have a high enough margin for the loan originators to cover (un)expected losses and wait for recovery to happen on defaulted loans. For Omaraha the interest rates on certain groups aren’t too high, which explains the buyback being partial – allowing a return of only a part of the principal. Bondora for example is against buyback on principal, but theoretically it could be implemented with good data workings provided they were interested in doing even more of the recovery (which they are not at this point in seems). Another important note here is the length of the loan – for Twino getting investors involved would be near impossible without buyback due to the short term of the loans, since waiting for recovery would be disproportionately long compared to the loan terms on the site.

Risks associated with buyback

In the world of consumer credit it’s common for companies to finance themselves using investors’ money. This is how most SMS-loan type businesses work – they release bonds at about 10-12% rates that finance their loan origination. Compared to the buyback process (and financing loans through the marketplace with investors’ money) releasing bonds is actually rather expensive – take into account all the fees for lawyers, documentation etc. Plus, financing the loans through a marketplace allows the businesses only use as much of the supply as they need, meaning they don’t pay out interest on money that’s still not used, actually probably making offering the buyback cheaper than other methods of financing their loan portfolio.

However, this does not eliminate risks completely. Firstly, in case of the loan originator going under you’re still in trouble. Secondly, even with the best laid plans, issues might happen – for example in case of a crisis buyback may be (temporarily) cancelled. Thirdly, this is an untested way of financing – issues may occur that none of us have been able to predict.

This means that you should still firstly diversify between different loan originators, still diversify between loans themselves and diversify across different investments and take a critical look at the background of the originators to see if their financial models work out. However, this might just be something that will take more ground in the world of P2P – reducing risks is one thing that might motivate more risk averse investors to try out P2P investments.