Portfolio update june 2018

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a portfolio update and a lot has changed, so I thought I’d share! Definitely some huge changes within the last year in terms of asset classes and I’ve had to make many changes to be more liquid to be ready to finance my new home (which will hopefully be finished in October).

Real estate is now pretty much gone from my portfolio. If you remember, I owned a small 12m2 dorm room style apartment in Northern Tallinn, which offered reasonable returns, but was also the most illiquid investment in my portfolio. Due to ridiculous price growth and lack of time and enthusiasm to manage the property, I sold it at the start of the year, cashing out a solid 20%+ yearly return, so overall not bad. Any exposure I have towards real estate now is real estate fund stocks and crowdfunding projects.

The rest of my portfolio is currently divided up between the stock market and P2P investments, with stock market investments totalling 25% of my investments and P2P investments 74%. The missing 1% is random trivia not worth mentioning here.

Stock investments are mostly single stocks from the baltic stock market, a total of 83.5% of stock investments or a total of 21% of portfolio, and some index fund investments, which total 16.5% or a total of a bit over 4% of total portfolio.

From the Baltic market positions which are bigger (more than 5% of total portfolio) are TKM (Tallinna Kaubamaja) and SAB (Šiauliu bankas), some smaller positions are in LHV (LHV bank), Tallink and the just-IPO’d Tallinna Sadam and a few tiny positions of SAF, TEL, APG, Merko, Eften. This is the lazy money I keep in my portfolio, mostly to buy and keep forever.

For index positions, these are currently much smaller than usually since I’m waiting for my home purchase to be finalised to finally start building an international portfolio, so it’s half invested into the third pension pillar (LHV Indeks pluss) and the rest is in a convenience index investing product that I’ve left ticking for tax reasons, kasvukonto (has a bit of EXSA, VAL, SPYW).

Social lending and crowdfunding are currently the core of my portfolio due to their high liquidity and current high returns. After years of testing through many different sites, I’ve kept only three among my investments, maybe will add a fourth when more finances free up or these shrink up (as Omaraha is currently).

Biggest portion of P2P investments are via Mintos, which is currently a whopping 40% of my portfolio, mostly due to the cashback and super fast secondary market. This is where my new home’s furniture money is currently earning interest.

Second biggest position, which has however been shrinking is Omaraha. Due to lower loan volumes and drops in interest rates, the effective returns are way below what they were even last year, and I’ve been slowly transferring money out to stop if from just sitting there. Will see how it goes. Currently at 24.5% of portfolio and slowly decreasing.

Last position is my higher risk part of the portfolio, investments into real estate developments mostly, which is Crowdestate. This houses a bit less than 10% of my total portfolio, however growth isn’t particularly fast since there aren’t too many projects. This is about the level I intend to keep this investment at.

There you go, current overview! At the end of the year I will have to liquidate some investments due to high expenses associated with hope purchasing, but hopefully once I sell the current home I’ll be able to patch up the damage and have a chance to add some new assets.

 

Omaraha loan volumes and interest rates

For a significant amount of time Omaraha was one of the P2P lending sites that offered highest returns. This was largely due to the way their auction system worked – investor could essentially bid how much money they were willing to invest into a loan and at which rate. The system started filling the loans from bottom up (lowest to highest rate) and then the person taking out the loan got an average rate based off those.

This meant that if you kept an eye on how the loans got financed you could get into loans at ridiculously high interest rates while the borrower could still get a reasonable total rate. Best example of this is probably in the 7- and 10-year loans which have been removed by now, where investors were rather shy to commit, meaning you could get into loans at the max rate allowed – 60% gross (48%net for investor). This was also possible for 5-yr loans.

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All good things must come to an end though, and the 7-yr and 10-yr loans were removed (largely due to the total rates failing to comply with the legal max interest rate limits) and the cap for max interest rates was also brought down, so you could no longer make autobidders with such insane rates. Good for the borrowers, sad for the investors.

Current situation

Somewhat as a result of those changes the average interest rates started to come down. A section of borrowers disappeared from site (those who got higher rate loans, but were no longer able to), and since the site itself had become much more popular among investors and the total available cash number kept increasing (up to 1mil at times), which started to push down the average rates.

As a result the drop has actually been rather immense. Another contributor has probably been the fact that Omaraha has elected to be less of a black box – before you had to take the time to figure out the interest rates yourself, now, however they show you the maximum rates that offer a chance to get into loans. Today’s stats:

rates

As it stands, since the buyback rate offered (used to be at 80% for a long time) has started to slide back closer to 60%, then clearly the squeeze is two-fold both less security in buyback and lower interest rates. Since they’re also reduced the max amount per loan that an investor can contribute, this makes previous strategies much harder to use as well (it’s no longer as efficient to “ladder” interest rates for separate autobidders).

As a result Omaraha has dropped to somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to returns with one significant downside – lack of a secondary market, which means making an exit is much more difficult than on some other sites. As a result, for the first time in two years I’ve actually taken out some money since it started to build up too much.

 

Mintos cashback vol 3

Well, 2018 has started well – by mid-march I will have achieved the cashflow returns that took me all of 2017 to reach. Goes to show that sometimes having a bit of luck and cash at the correct time happens completely accidentally.

My biggest portfolio move this year was selling the small 12m2 rental apartment I had in Tallinn. While it was offering good rental returns, then in the long run it wasn’t in a very good house and 16m2 apartments have slowly started to gain popularity. Also, the prices of 12m2 apartments have reached ridiculous heights and since I needed to cash out something from my portfolio since I bought a new home which is being built, and I have to have cash available for various expenses in late autumn.

This deal however ended up being surprisingly well timed because I was able to drop most of the money from the sale into Mintos’s cashback program, which over the course of the last month has created some nice returns

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Of course the campaign has been very popular – there are days when there are no 60+mo loans and days when even the supply for 48mo+ loans has run out, but checking every now and then allows you to pick between countries and loan lengths to boost your portfolio. Since I’ve been investing mostly into Mogo loans anyway then I didn’t really feel much increased risk from temporarily increasing my exposure to them.

While this is a short term boost to investments (since when the cashback ends I will slowly have to start withdrawing money from the repayments), then it’s safe to say that Mintos has helped me boost my returns for the year significantly. Those who still have some cash laying around, then the campaign lasts for another 10 days (until March 16).

Mintos and Twino portfolio updates

Mintos and Twino portfolios are both steadily trekking on, and being probably the most passive part of my portfolio still. I kind of refer to them as my latte fund – my investments there are enough for me to afford a latte every day of the year, the worst financial sin in the eyes of some savings gurus :) Of course, I don’t actually drink a latte every day because I’m too lazy to actually go and get one, but the point still stands. Next goal for these two portfolios is to allow me to buy a Starbucks coffee every day. I’ll probably fill that goal before Starbucks actually opens a shop in Estonia!

Portfolio growth

Since I’ve been saving up money for a house downpayment, then I haven’t really been adding all that much money into my portfolio this year, and I’ll be a bit less aggressive with adding money until the house is ready and decorated and all those other million expenses that go with moving. However, both Mintos and Twino portfolios are slowly doing their thing, and I’ve started to add tiny amounts of money to my Mintos portfolio again.

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I’ve stopped adding money to Twino due to the fact that for a couple of months there was a constant cash drag issue, where there weren’t enough new loans with attractive rates to really justify adding any money. If they get their pipeline going better again, I might reconsider, but I currently have 3500 euros floating around there, bringing in about 35 euros/month, so it’s a nice and slow growing portfolio.

Mintos however is really showing impressive growth, both in terms of loan volumes and amount of originators, being well on the path of becoming a P2P market leader in Europe. While I’ve been quite liberal with my autoinvest settings in Mintos, then about 90% of my Mintos portfolio is still mogo loans, which have served me well. Currently I have 4400 euros circling around, bringing in about 45 euros/month, so also a nice passive portfolio.

Returns

Now, returns are however on a different track and instead of climbing upwards they are steadily declining. This is inevitable as more money pours in to P2P, and there is more competition in the field. Currently Twino returns show as 13,42% and Mintos returns show as 13,03%.

As time goes in, I expect both of them to balance down to about 11-12%, which is still impressively good for such a passive investment. I literally just transfer money in whenever, and don’t really even log on to check the results all that often.

The only interesting thing in the past few months has been the fact that since Eurocent is struggling, I’ve checked occasionally how my one Eurocent loan (22€ loan piece) that I’d managed to pick up is doing. I’ve also pushed my Twino portfolio to be abit more towards shorter term loans, bringing the average length down, now that there aren’t much BBG loans anymore.

Twino status:

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Mintos status:

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Fraudulent loans in P2P – Omaraha example

One of the inherent risks of the lending business is the likelihood of fraud happening. People will always be motivated to try to get loans and not pay them back, and this isn’t something that’s limited to P2P – banks and other credit providers constantly try to improve their systems to stop fraud from happening.

However, when it comes to P2P a lot of portals have been rather tight-lipped about giving out any actual statistics for loan fraud, which is strange in the sense that it’s unlikely that no fraud has occurred. I remember from when I started out with Bondora, then the forums occasionally discussed some fraudulent applications, since back then it was possible to track the people you gave loans to because a lot of the borrower’s info was public.

Since then, when looking at Bondora defaults, then for quite a few you can see marked as “criminal proceedings started”, which implies fraud, whether it was giving false data, using someone else’s ID etc. For an investor this means that unless you are phenomenally lucky then you will at some point lose a bit of money to fraud.

Omaraha, the Estonian P2P portal had an interesting case happen, which hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, and to be honest if people weren’t diligent about their portfolios then I’m not sure if it ever would have been public info. Essentially, there was a dozen or so loans that were given out to Latvian borrowers, which in all likelihood used either fraudulent data or some other tricks to get through the system.

Obviously, it’s reasonable for Omaraha not to give out exact details which workaround was used to trick the system, but the fact being – in the range of 50 000 euros (+/- 10K) was lost to this one wave of fraud. Due to the way Omaraha’s system works, 80% of that will be absorbed by the recovery fund, and 20% will be lost for the investors. I was one of the people who managed to get lucky and hit quite a few of those loans with my autobidder, so I’ll be taking a loss in the range of 100 euros from this venture.

Now, why this is important other than the fact that it’s of course sad to lose the money; is the fact that this is an inevitable part of investing in to loans. No system is absolutely foolproof, and workarounds will be found. As an investor it’s your job to take that into account when planning your strategy  – the knowledge that at some point such losses may happen. For portals this is always something that would be nice to transparently explain, to provide investors with more confidence in the due diligence they do.