Michael Wendland, member of the Canadian Lenders Association and CEO of Refresh Financial speaks in the CLA LEADERS IN LENDING series.

Refresh helps people build better financial reputation — especially those who might not be treated well elsewhere. Refresh provides programs that help people to build credit safely.

Refresh lends people with poor credit money, so they can build good credit. You have called yourself a “socially-redeeming for-profit company.” Tell me a little about your mission and how you differentiate yourself in the Canadian lending ecosystem.
Firstly, regarding our mission - our company’s core purpose is to build better futures. This purpose resides in our blood and provides the framework for how we think and design our products and our clients experience.
We solve a very real gap in the marketplace today, providing financial tools to Canadians who don’t have access to all available forms of credit. Being pushed down the credit ladder isn’t a great experience - being told “no”.
Part of our value proposition to our partners and clients is that we provide financial tools that say “yes” and give an opportunity for a client where none may have existed before.
We do this by providing a very hi-touch, customized client experience which is different than how many financial service providers in the marketplace.
We believe that by providing a great, affordable product solutions (cash secured loans and our new secured credit card) alongside a great client experience helps clients really value our brand over time during their financial journey.
In the US the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) indicated that 45M people lack a credit score. Of those, some 26M Americans are “credit invisible,” with no credit events on file.
Please walk me through how Refresh uses cash secured loans and a secured credit card the repatriate this credit invisible Canadians. How do you move these consumers up the credit ladder?
Our cash secured loan & secured credit card provides consumers with two tools that they can use to establish credit. Both report as instalment and revolving (respectively) tradelines that report repayment history on the consumer’s credit profile.
As the consumer, in either of the products, begins to build their credit history they gain access to more affordable credit products with lenders across Canada.
Refresh takes a more proactive, personalized role in the client experience ensuring that they are educated and well positioned to progress and gain access to credit products if they require. One of the ways we do this is through a financial training platform called Refresh f.i.t
Refresh f.i.t is provided as a value add to all of our clients, and trains the client about other pieces of the financial spectrum, such as banking, saving and spending.
This is just one of the ways we help ensure that the client is a strong, credit-worthy client as they walk through the experience with Refresh and look to gain access to credit products.
We partner with numerous financial service providers across Canada, helping them ultimately provide a solution where they never have to say “NO” to a client, which is extremely valuable.
As the client is offered a Refresh solution, we essentially optimize our partners for loan book growth in the future as their Refresh clients reprove their credit worthiness.