Investment, Regulatory and Operational Considerations for Hedge Fund Managers Considering Peer-To-Peer Lending

Non-bank lenders – notably including hedge funds – are playing a growing role in the provision of credit to businesses and individuals.  This is a function of various factors: an increasingly heavy regulatory hand on banks post-crisis; higher bank capital requirements; increased risk aversion; persistently low interest rates; and regulatory changes in some jurisdictions facilitating direct lending.  See, e.g., “Irish Central Bank Issues Proposed Rules to Enable Private Funds to Originate Loans,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 7, No. 34 (Sep. 11, 2014).  As part of this trend, hedge fund managers are exploring and in some cases lending through so-called “peer-to-peer” lending (P2PL) channels.  Whether characterized as an “asset class” or merely a new or somewhat new mechanism for an age-old practice (lending money), P2PL has received significant attention and generated cautious interest among hedge fund managers.  To clarify the discussion around P2PL, this article relates the salient points from a presentation at a recent event on peer-to-peer lending, organized by the Institute for International Research (the same entity that organizes the popular GAIM conferences on hedge fund operations).  This article specifically provides background on the forces fueling P2PL growth, outlines relevant regulatory considerations and weighs the pros and cons for hedge fund managers of participation in P2PL strategies.

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