Prosper Releases New Modern User Experience

Prosper_Website_Update

Today, Prosper officially announced their new investor user interface. The new modern site now ties in with the new Prosper logo and color scheme released earlier this year. I spoke with Stephen Smyth, Director of Product Management at Prosper to get a walkthrough of the changes. We also reached out to Prosper CEO Aaron Vermut for comment on the new website:

From the very beginning, retail investors have been part of Prosper’s DNA. As our business grew so did our investor base. We began to attract a broader, more diverse group of investors who wanted multiple ways to invest in our product. No matter what type of investor uses our platform, retail or institutional, both groups have the same desires—they want to build a diversified portfolio that generates an attractive yield as well as monthly cash flow. By launching our new and improved retail investor experience, we’re proud to be making good on our commitments to enhancing our customer experience.

Probably most apparent with the new Prosper is the focus on simplicity. It is now much easier to find what you are looking for and the streamlined experience is going to be a welcome change for new Prosper investors. Some functionality remains the same albeit with a facelift, but the two main areas that were completely overhauled were the account dashboard and auto invest.

Upon logging into your Prosper account you will be presented with the brand new dashboard and account overview page. Users will see their current loan allocation across grades as well as target allocation if auto invest is enabled. A snapshot of your portfolio is also broken down by cash, pending notes, notes held in your portfolio and annualized net returns.

Prosper Account Dashboard

The new Auto Invest feature is linked directly from the account dashboard as shown above and Prosper notes it is now four times faster. One important thing to note is that the new Auto Invest feature is completely separate from Automated Quick Invest which was available on the previous version of Prosper’s website. Automated Quick Invest is still available and functioning but can only be accessed by clicking the Classic View link at the top of the page. Although Stephen wouldn’t comment on future product features it is likely that Automated Quick Invest may go away at some point down the road with Auto Invest being its replacement.

The interface of Auto Invest is extremely simple to setup and understand. Users are presented with three options: AA – B weighted, Marketplace Mix and D-HR weighted. You can simply select one of the presets that fits your risk tolerance or create a custom mix of loans you’d like to invest in. Charts showing current versus target allocation give you an idea of the portfolio changes based on options selected. In addition, there is a link to additional criteria which allows access to several filters that users have historically used to invest: Loan Term, Employment Status, Debt/Income Ratio and Public Records.

Prosper_Auto_Invest

While from the user perspective it may seem that the new website is simply a new skin, Stephen noted that these changes also included significant backend work which also extended to the auto invest tool. The website performance and reliability should be much improved as a result.

Another change worth mentioning is that the new site is now optimized for mobile web. The interface is similar to viewing it on the desktop and allows for all of the same functionality. Lastly Prosper has now included an inline help bar at the bottom of the page. Searching will allow users to quickly lookup answers to questions and view the original article on the subject. If you still need help, a simple contact form is available to get in touch with the Prosper team. Several of the other pages linked from the account overview page have also been updated to reflect the new look.

Conclusion

The new website is a huge step forward for Prosper and it’s great to see that Prosper invested in improving the individual investor’s experience. Over the coming months we will see a number of other elements added to the site and the few existing legacy pages will also be modernized.

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Lincoln
Lincoln
Jun. 22, 2016 12:09 pm

How is Prosper as a business doing these days? I’ve read a lot about LC recently but as a private company, there’s not much info out there about Prosper. Website improvements are always appreciated but I’m much more concerned about the financial position of the company as a whole.

I’m a big Prosper fan and have always had great investment returns on its platform. However, with the recent Lending Club fiasco, the overall flight of institutional money from P2P lending, and the massive layoffs Prosper recently had, I’m just as concerned about Prosper’s overall financial health and the safety of my Prosper investments as I am with LC’s financial health and the safety of my LC investments. I know I’ve read that Prosper has some sort of separate entity set up that will supposedly help investors in the event of a bankruptcy, but I’d obviously prefer to avoid that mess altogether.

I know Prosper raised some money not too long ago, but as a private company I assume it has less in its coffers than LC does, and perhaps not as great an ability to weather the storm. From memory I thought I read a while back that Prosper was profitable but I assume that is no longer the case.

Ryan Lichtenwald
Ryan Lichtenwald
Jun. 23, 2016 7:52 am
Reply to  Lincoln

I haven’t dug into their financials myself recently, but even as a private company Prosper produces an annual 10-K and a 10-Q each quarter. You can view those documents here:

https://www.prosper.com/prospectus/

Jacob Larsen
Jacob Larsen
Jun. 22, 2016 1:10 pm

In general, I love the simplicity of the new website. I think that it will be a boon to the vast majority of retail investors who want a seamless experience. However, it does seem that much of the filters that were originally available on the auto-invest tool are being phased out for a much reduced selection. It appears that there is now a scant four additional criteria: loan term, debt-to-income ratio, employment status and public records. I know that many investors use many other filters to select loans for their portfolio. Is Prosper going too simplistic with this approach?

Ryan Lichtenwald
Ryan Lichtenwald
Jun. 23, 2016 7:46 am
Reply to  Jacob Larsen

Hi Jacob,

While some of us are certainly power users, I think for a majority of Prosper investors and especially new investors the simple site is the best approach. For us that choose to go deeper into loan filters and data analysis there are several third party tools that offer the additional functionality we desire. Now that they have the majority of the site complete I think we’ll continue to see additional functionality rolled out over the next few months as well.

Jacob Larsen
Jacob Larsen
Jun. 24, 2016 4:25 pm

Thanks for the response Ryan. After thinking about it, I agree that simplicity is best from a strategic point of view. I’m not a power-user who is using APIs to buy notes, but I do have custom filters that I hope (fingers crossed) are helping to improve my return and reduce risk. Maybe I am fooling myself with this belief. I suspect though that some retail investors may feel overwhelmed by too many options (i.e. decision fatigue) and, while these enhanced options may be embraced by some, it may actually scare away a larger majority. So from a utilitarian perspective, simplicity is a better bet.

I also think the demand for additional filters is, to some degree, a function of how well the risk management team is underwriting the default rates. If it can be shown demonstrably that any additional filters layered on top of Prosper’s credit rating are unlikely to generate a statistically significant return, then I think the investor base will be alright with “buying the market”.

jason h
jason h
Jun. 23, 2016 1:02 pm
Reply to  Jacob Larsen

Yeah the whole new website looks like rubbish for any advanced user. MIght be a good overall strategy to attract new investors but more options are better. I had a feeling this is what we would see from their upcoming “improved” website.

Anonymous
Anonymous
Jun. 23, 2016 6:46 am

Th best way to attract retail is by allocating more quality loans to retail. No matter how beautiful you design the web. We are here to invest and make money not get web page massage.

Also be transparent! Release all historical loan performance data and payment data to retail! Just like LC did!

Ryan Lichtenwald
Ryan Lichtenwald
Jun. 23, 2016 8:26 am
Reply to  Anonymous

Their loan volume allocated to retail has historically been less than Lending Club, but they also do less total loan volume. We will see what happens in the coming months but perhaps with the new website we will see more activity on the retail side. Keep in mind that the actual loans allocated to each pool are randomized. Yes there is certainly less volume on the fractional pool, but I just want to be clear that “better” loans aren’t getting allocated to the whole loan pool versus the fractional pool and vice versa. I have personally not had any issues keeping my money invested with Prosper while still using some specific filter criteria.

Although Prosper stopped making the data publicly available for download, NSR Invest has a data-sharing agreement with Prosper and you can analyze performance as long as the results total more than 200 loans. Here is a direct link to Prosper backtesting: https://nsrplatform.com/app/#!/stats/prosper/

Full disclosure: NSR Invest is a sister company to Lend Academy.

Anonymous
Anonymous
Jun. 23, 2016 9:37 am

200 only?? You got be kidding me! And has to be done through NSR??

Ryan Lichtenwald
Ryan Lichtenwald
Jun. 23, 2016 9:50 am
Reply to  Anonymous

To be clear, as long as your query results in more than 200 loans you can backtest. This is easy since there are over 500,000 loans to backtest, meaning your criteria would have to be extremely strict to see less than 200 loans. When considering a filter strategy I like to see a healthy amount of notes (in the thousands) that meet my investing criteria. Not only will this help you make sure there is enough volume for your filters to execute, but also to get a much better understanding of what returns have been historically.

Fred93
Fred93
Jun. 23, 2016 3:24 pm

Nothing fundamental. You make a lot of fuss over a new paint job.

RightInvest
RightInvest
Jun. 23, 2016 11:32 pm

Prosper has some nerve copying Lending Club and calling it ‘the new investor experience’.

Sad but true, tough times

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-Prosper-com-RVW10924768.htm

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-Prosper-com-RVW10692331.htm