$30,000 Beat-the-Benchmark Experiment Update – June 2013

Here’s a condensed June 2013 update for my Beat the Market Experiment, a series of three portfolios started on November 1st, 2012:

  1. $10,000 Passive Benchmark Portfolio that would serve as both a performance benchmark and an real-world, low-cost portfolio that would be easy to replicate and maintain for DIY investors.
  2. $10,000 Beat-the-Benchmark Speculative Portfolio that would simply represent the attempts of an “average guy” who is not a financial professional and gets his news from mainstream sources to get the best overall returns possible.
  3. $10,000 P2P Consumer Lending Speculative Portfolio – Split evenly between LendingClub and Prosper, this portfolio is designed to test out the alternative investment class of person-to-person loans. The goal is again to beat the benchmark by setting a target return of 8-10% net of defaults.

Summary. Values are as of June 1, 2013. 7 months into this experiment, the passive benchmark portfolio remains the leader although last month it was pretty flat. The speculative portfolio is bouncing back quite nicely, almost matching the benchmark portfolio. The P2P lending portfolio is still rather young, but I’m satisfied with the current trend of having 5 out of 450+ loans that are over 30 days late.

$10,000 Benchmark Portfolio. I put $10,000 into index funds at TD Ameritrade due to their 100 commission-free ETF program that includes free trades on the best low-cost, index ETFs from Vanguard and iShares. The portfolio was based loosely on a David Swensen model portfolio. Screenshot, click to enlarge:


$10,000 Speculative Portfolio. Many people speculate with their money, buying and selling stocks now and then, but they rarely track their performance even though they may brag about their winners. Honest tracking is the primary reason for this “no-rules, just make money” account. I dropped $10,000 into a TradeKing account for this portfolio due to their low-cost $4.95 trade structure, free tax-management gain/loss software, and free dividend reinvestment. Screenshot:


$10,000 Prosper and LendingClub Portfolio. For this one, I started with $10,000 split evenly between Prosper Lending and Lending Club, and went to work lending other people money and earning interest with an 8% target net return. So it’s also a race-within-a-race to see which option offers the best returns.

The LendingClub portfolio now has 211 current and active loans, 17 loans that were paid off early, and several in funding. Two of the active loans are currently between 31-120 days late, which to be conservative I am going to write off completely ($48).


My Prosper portfolio now has 225 current and active loans, 18 loans that were paid off early, and the rest in funding. 7 of the active loans are between 1-30 days late. Three are over 30 days late, which to be conservative I am going to write off completely ($73).


My plan going forward is to go into the portfolio holdings in more detail on a quarterly basis instead of the previous monthly basis.


  1. Brandon says:


    I appreciate the update. I’m curious on Lending Club performance…are you down? Balance appears to be under your initial $5000. I’m intrigued by these investment vehicles and enjoy your more thorough analysis.


  2. @Brandon, it looks like its because 17 loans were paid off early.

  3. @Brandon- I think you are looking at the wrong numbers. You are looking at his current notes, which is under 5k. But he’s received over 1.3K in payments so he’s doing quite nicely.

  4. Why not just pick Lending Club or Prosper? Do you have any reason to suspect they are different. Based on everything I read 5 years ago I decided to only invest in Lending Club. Numbers have been pretty close to 8%. I’ve now moved a 10K IRA account into Lending Club and am seeing similar consistency.

  5. @Brandon – I might be missing some loans in that screenshot because I didn’t categorize them under “BTM experiment”. Should be fixed on my July update.

    @Ryan – I do think they may be different. Pre-2009, Prosper returns were quite bad. A lot of the performance of these loans depends on the loan rating and rates assigned to the borrowers by LC or Prosper. I do believe LC has the better track record and if I was forced to pick one I’d pick LC like you did, but am curious to see if Prosper has caught up.

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