Sometimes, it is best to look back to chart the future. In 2021, our commentaries covered a lot of ground, and they serve as our compass for the coming year.
We reminisced on how we broke free from traditional alternative investing to embrace a future centered around digital transformation, especially in private credit. This journey has been wildly satisfying because it nurtures our desire to innovate products that address the primary pain point of many fixed income allocators.
We focus on digital private credit as an asset class given its core features: small balance, short duration, amortizing, and non-traded. When properly constructed, a portfolio in this asset class can achieve asymmetrical risk-adjusted real returns (adjusted for inflation), with low correlation to listed securities.
We offered a “101” on digital private credit to help educate allocators and participants on some of the basics. One of our primary takeaways is that more education on the asset class is required, and we intend to offer more this year. We reminded our readers of the simplicity in the asset class, what we view as a winning proposition: digital private credit is at its core an obligation between a borrower and a lender. An investment manager in the space constructs a portfolio with those obligations.
Often, we asked why digital private credit has not yet been adopted by many allocators as a bona fide fixed income alternative. Despite being put to the test in 2020, digital private credit emerged as a standout performer because many of the asset class’s inherent features can be an ideal antidote to idiosyncratic risk. On several occasions, we discussed the absolute and relative performance of digital private credit, in a world where the real returns on most U.S. dollar-denominated fixed income indices ended negative.
In a world awash in fabrications and alternative interpretations rooted in fantasy, we recognized the good fortune of the digital private credit asset class, which revolves around irrefutable data and numbers. This allows a rational, logic-driven investment manager to make objective investment decisions. Transparency is prominent.
We watched Fintech grow up over the past year, with several companies raising significant capital in private and public markets. New Fintech-enabled product offerings like Buy Now Pay Later (“BNPL”) became part of the mainstream consumer experience across general retail, as well as in specific sectors, like leisure travel. We participated where we thought it made sense.
With this backdrop, where do we see digital private credit going in 2022? Fintech will continue its push into the mainstream, as our mantra that “Every company will be a Fintech company” marches towards fruition. New investment capital into Fintech companies will catalyze the creation of new products and services that will likely become part of a portfolio’s investment mosaic. In our opinion, a strong macroeconomic backdrop should continue to support healthy credit performance, recognizing that we will see some expected normalization from 2021 levels. Finally, we believe more institutional allocators will accept that the asset class merits a core allocation. Credit performance and opportunity growth have been and should continue to warrant attention. On to 2022.