Banks are not equipped to lend the way small platforms are, and a lot of platforms are hamstrung by the regulatory environment. Monroe Capital, LLC, launched their specialty lending vertical a couple of years ago to provide funding for other lending platforms. Aaron Peck, managing director and co-head of the Specialty Finance Vertical, said four years ago the company had two specialty finance vehicles designed to meet the needs of those platforms. Now, they have 11, and all of them are current yield.
“That’s rare for a fund,” Peck said, “but we look at performance. A publicly traded vehicle pays 90%, so we are trading quite well. All our funds pay hefty dividends.”
Since 2004, Monroe Capital has been a lower mid-market lender, providing funding for businesses with $3 million to $30 million in cash flow. Headquartered in Chicago, they’ve managed more than $4 billion in assets through origination offices in Boston, New York, Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto. Their specialty finance division, however, is not a typical marketplace lending platform; rather, they see themselves as a hybrid model looking for growth capital. Peck is one of nine partners.
Alternative lending start-ups have entered mainstream consumer and SMB lending, but have yet to establish themselves as additions to traditional fixed income portfolios for investors. Marketplace lenders started out as peer-to-peer lenders, but institutional capital and accredited investors are now accounting for the lion’s share of lending capital on such platforms. Direct Lending Investments, LLC (DLI), a growing and active participant in this developing world of private credit, focuses on buying loans and extending loans to alternative lending platforms and other business partners. In particular, the firm provides credit to the growing sectors of the market that are no longer served by traditional bank lending and, more importantly, structures its funding in a way so that the originator takes on default risk.
Inspiration and founding
Brendan Ross, the founder and CEO of DLI, first began investing in marketplace lending personally and on behalf of his clients through Lending Club (LC) and Prosper loans. In 2012, he launched DLI to expand his investment horizon beyond peer-to-peer lending, which he has since moved away from altogether. The firm’s inaugural deal in November of 2012 was with IOU Financial, a SMB loan originator. Since then, the firm has expanded to include receivables as well as real estate and consumer loans in its portfolios, and has grown to over $900 million in assets under management.