System Error: Prosper Showed Incorrect Returns to InvestorsMay 3, 2017 | By: Sean Murray
Investor returns weren’t what they claimed for at least seven quarters, according to a notice Prosper issued on Wednesday.
It recently came to our attention that the annualized net return numbers displayed on your account overview page were inaccurate due to a system error. This error affected the Annualized Net Return and Seasoned Net Annualized Return numbers and has now been fixed.
This error did not impact any other part of your account, including payments, deposits, monthly statements, tax documents and note and loan level information – including estimated returns.
We sincerely apologize for this error. If you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com.
And this was no small adjustment. On LendAcademy, Ryan Lichtenwald said his returns were adjusted from 13.55% down to 9.27%. One user on the LendAcademy forum said his returns were adjusted down from 10% to 8% and another from 14% to 7%. Yet another individual who interacted with me on twitter claims his return dropped from 10% to 1.2%. While we can’t confirm some of these accounts, Prosper’s admission and Lichtenwald’s post on LendAcademy are pretty alarming.
An old LendAcademy forum post shows users mulling over Prosper’s return calculation more than a year ago, but were unsure what to make of it.
In December 2016, the subject came up again.
That same month, Prosper hired a new CFO, Usama Ashraf.
Update: According to Bloomberg, “some of the investors that were affected saw their annual returns fall in half, but in most cases returns fell less than 2 percentage points.” A Prosper spokesperson said that the issue has been going on for several quarters.
Update 2: According to Financial Times, “The miscalculations affected a majority of Prosper’s customers and date back as far as seven quarters.”
Links to additional websites that show investors were growing suspicious of Prosper’s calculations:
Oct 2016: Prosper showing return of 8% – “What I don’t understand, is that when I look at my statements and compare account balances, I’m seeing a return of closer to 4%.”
Jan 2017: “Here is my issue. Since last summer, my charge offs have skyrocketed, and my returns the past 7 months or so have been about 1%! That is annoying, but what really is pissing me off, is their math shows that I still have returns of 14.5%. No matter how I slice it, that math doesn’t add up.”
Reactions from Prosper investors on the Internet:
“My displayed returns are now 1/2 of what they used to be.” May 7, 2017
Sean Murray is the founder of deBanked, an 11-year veteran of the merchant cash advance industry, a casual Lending Club and Prosper note investor, the co-founder of Daily Funder, an alternative lending speaker, consultant, writer, and enthusiast. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter.