In my two most recent articles reviewing Broke,USA, Gary Rivlin’s book on the alternative finance industry, I have written about what are probably the best known threats to the industry: regulation and corporate misbehavior. I believe that many of those who refuse to invest in the alternative finance industry refuse because of those risks. They fear that government regulation, such as interest rate caps, will end the industry’s high returns. They are unnerved by the industry’s risk of misbehavior. Such misbehavior includes not only obviously illegal activities, such as fraud and illegal collections practices, but also questionable if legal activities, such as lending in ways that encourage borrowers to enter a debt spiral.
However, I believe that it is often not the obvious risks that are the most important to an investor’s returns, but rather the ones that people are unaware of. As I wrote in my article about regulation, alternative finance companies have consistently found ways to work around regulation. Even persistent accusations of misbehavior have not kept companies in the industry from outperforming the overall stock market year after year.