Introduction to Trifigo: Passion meets Purpose
Why did I leave the corporate world and venture to start my own company focused on helping others build their credit scores and reports earlier in their professional careers?
I am a first generation US citizen but when I came to live in this country, my only focus was to get to college because that was told to me was the ‘holy grail’ of sorts to the American dream. So I studied and did well enough in high school to get to that next step. What no one in my circle told me was all the work that was necessary apart from getting good grades to get to college. College visits, volunteering and playing sports to round out your application, understand the story you need to craft to apply to the best schools. I was always scrambling to pay attention to my classmates and figure out what they were doing now or planned on doing next to achieve this next step.
Getting into college, there was a little more preparation but I had no clue on the job or role I wanted after college and I wasn’t terribly certain what I was passionate enough to pursue for my degree. I took some guidance from my counselor and other classmates I met along the way and selected a solid major. Secured an internship through a wonderful program INROADS Inc, that you will see me write about in the future.
Got my first credit card freshman year and thus began my credit journey similar to many others on college campuses. Although taking out student loans also begins your journey for most college students. Two pieces of advice I was given that was only partially effective was never miss a payment and always stay under your credit limit. The former is the best advice, the latter was not quite as beneficial and will explain later.
Fast forward to starting in my career and getting regular paychecks and still having access to credit. I continued to follow the previous advice but at that time it was much harder to get your credit reports and scores to see how I was doing overall. The only time you would have an idea of where your credit stood was during a credit/loan approval process. So being in the dark was normal. I made a few mistakes in terms of higher credit utilization (concept I didn’t fully understand at the time and you may not as well) and opening and closing some accounts randomly.
That caused my credit score to be in the poor or 600 range for quite a bit of time and therefore I was rated a higher credit risk. This meant I had to pay higher interest charges for credit products: loans, credit cards, etc. This reduced my cash flow for other things that I wanted to experience at that time such as traveling and balling out at NYC clubs. Popping bottles in NYC clubs and lounges over those years would end up being enough money for a down payment on a house. Lessons that are filed away in my memory.
Fast forward to getting my MBA from NYU Business School through the Consortium, and finally getting to understand the true financial picture. I went to work at the NY Federal Reserve Bank of NY during the financial crisis and was able to see many of the inner workings of the largest banks in the country. Lack of proper risk understanding or controls was at the heart of the crisis. I was fascinated by risk before but this experience solidified my drive to become an expert in this area.
I have since worked at a few of the largest and most prestigious financial institutions in the US and Canada including, Goldman Sachs, Ernst & Young, AIG and Bank of Montreal. In all these roles I have continued to hone my risk experience as well as my desire to help others better understand risk and make better financial decisions. In today’s information driven age there is a plethora of information out there but much of it is confusing and doesn’t paint a clear picture of consumer credit risk (your risk profile/story). This leads to information asymmetry in favor of the financial institutions that you work with everyday. Some institutions know that and take full advantage of their information edge, by charging higher interest rates than you may qualify for or not provide complete transparency on products and services.
Having seen this gap I decided to do something about it and started working with my co-founders to create Trifigo. This is the first in our blog series and looking forward to continuing the dialogue.
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