I am in San Francisco this week meeting with the management of Prosper and Lending Club. The main reason for this trip, though, is to meet the new management team at Prosper. They came on board three weeks ago and I wanted to get a feeling for how everything was going.
I sat down for a lunch meeting in the Prosper offices yesterday with new CEO Steve Vermut. Below is an edited transcript of our interview.
Q. When did you first get interested in the peer to peer space?
A. It was around 18 months ago when my business partner, Ron Suber, brought it to my attention. The more I looked at it the more I liked it. Here is an asset class with high yield and consistent returns that is non-correlated with other investments. I felt that it was such a unique proposition. I have been investing in the p2p space since then.
Q. You are now three weeks into your role as Prosper CEO. What changes have been made so far?
A. We have really tried to hit the ground running. I have a whole list of changes that have been implemented or are about to be.
- We created an operations group that will now reconcile all activity every single day instead of monthly. This will reduce errors as well as the time taken to produce monthly statements.
- Extended our call center hours from 8am – 5pm Pacific time to 6am – 6pm Pacific time.
- There is a small customer service team now working on weekends so emails will be responded to in a much more timely manner.
- Overhauling the way collections is done with an emphasis on being more aggressive.
- We have 71 employees right now and 30 of them are in IT. We are going to continue to expand our capacity in this area.
- We are opening an office in New York City for institutional sales and we will also be hiring experienced IT professionals from the financial services industry for that office.
- We are about to release a new version of the API that will have over 500 data points on every borrower including FICO score.
- We are rewriting Automated Quick Invest to make it run faster.
- We are evolving the credit model and will be eliminating the highest risk borrowers from the platform.
- There have also been a large number of internal changes such as realigning departments that will lead to greater efficiencies as we grow.
Q. Well you certainly have had a busy three weeks. Let’s talk about collections for a second. Investors want more done in that area – what changes are you planning?