My Bondora Second Market Strategy
Bondora shows very good transparency and lets you download the entire loan dataset which is fantastic. This dataset includes all loans that have ever been up for investment and is the perfect playground for the number’s nerd.
Yes, statistics are a bit boring so let me do this work for you. What we want to do is to optimize our profits by reducing the risk of investing into loans that will eventually default. The loan dataset gives us the chance to look at the performance of thousands of loans over the past years, so let’s get to it. If you don’t care for the numbers and only want to see the conclusion, just jump to the end of the text.
For my analysis, I looked at defaulted loans from 2016 to 2018. Bondora counts a loan as defaulted when a scheduled payment is more than 60 days late. Hence, the last payment was made 60 days before the default date.
At first, let’s see how long it takes loans to become default:
What we see here is the period in months before a loan becomes default and the number of loans that failed in the respective month after the loans were listed on Bondora. It’s obvious that the vast majority of the loans fail relatively early on within the first few months. Let’s take a closer look and turn this graph into a default probability plot which is much more suitable for our purpose:
Here we see much more clearly that most of the loans fail early on. For example, after 7 months, about 60% of the loans became default. This means that we can dramatically decrease our risk of buying a loan that defaults at some point by not buying “new” loans that have just been listed on Bondora.
There’s a gap of two months (60 days) between the last payment and the loan being labeled as default. Since we want to invest in active (current) loans with punctual payments we need to correct the time axis by those two months in order to better judge when we should buy a loan.
Following our example above, let’s say we only buy loans that have been active for at least 5 months. On average this will decrease our risk of buying loans which will become default by 60%. Pretty neat, right?
To refine this analysis a bit further, here’s the default probability for the different loan markets (Estonia, Spain and Finland):
The differences between these markets are quite significant. Spanish loans fail very early on and by buying loans with at least 5 months maturity you can sort out almost 80% of bad loans. For Estonia and Finland it would be better to buy loans with higher maturity to avoid buying too many bad loans.
2nd market strategy: picking the good loans
The selection of loans that I explained above can only be done on the Bondora Secondary Market. The portfolio managers for the First Market don’t allow for the required loan filtering and loans with sufficient maturity can’t be found on the First Market anyway.
Picking well performing loans doesn’t come for free. Basically all of these loans are sold on the Secondary Market with a premium or markup. This is compensated for by the better loan performance that you will get but I still wouldn’t pay more than 4% markup. It’s best to look at the effective XIRR which is listed for every loan on the secondary market. This number tells you the return of investment over the entire loan duration and is the best method to judge if a loan is worth buying or not.
Here’s what I propose to do:
Filter the loans on the secondary market based on the data I showed above. The screenshot shows how this could look like for loans from Estonia.
- set the “Loan listed” date to before 5 months ago
- Set loan status to current
- Select the desired rating (I chose B, C, D)
- Select the desired country (here Estonia)
- Limit the markup (with up to 3-4% markup you’ll find a lot of available loans)
- Set Has new loan schedule to No
- Save the filter for easy re-use; don’t forget to adjust the Loan listed date when you use the filter again
You’ll get a long list of available loans. The XIRR value tells you about the overall profit if the loan gets fully repaid and includes already the markup you pay for the loan. You can further filter this list for a desired profit range by limiting the interest range in your filter settings.
Buy the loans you want by adding them to your shopping cart. For the sake of diversification, I’d recommend to avoid loans with a large principal (e.g. above 5€) and to invest in as many loans as possible. This is a manual process and cannot be automated, so I do this only about once a month when my account has filled up with repaid cash.
This strategy has been working very well for me: since I started using it my returns on Bondora have significantly increased compared to the portfolio that Bondora’s Portfolio Manager had invested in. It is not a convenient passive investment method like the Portfolio Managers but it pays off as you can see in the charts below. I think getting active once a month is a small price I pay for a much higher return on my investments.