We spent 30 minutes with Borrowell COO, Eva Wong and learned that not only is she a self-proclaimed personal finance junkie, she’s also an insurance advocate! Read on to find out why she thinks people are too hard on insurance, how she got involved with Borrowell, and her top financial tips.
When did you join the Borrowell team?
“It was in the early days, before Borrowell even had a name. Our CEO, Andrew Graham, saw a lot of exciting stuff happening in fintech around the world, but not a lot happening for Canadians. That’s when he decided to build a financial technology company to help people make better decisions about credit. Andrew and I had founded a social venture together in the past, so I was asked to be part of the co-founding team. I was immediately excited because I’ve always had an interest in personal finance. ”
What’s the smartest thing to do with your money, regardless of where you’re at?
“I’ve always been a personal finance junkie. When it comes to being smart about money, I’d recommend paying off your credit card in full every month. I know it sounds like a basic thing, but a lot of Canadians don’t do it. People get into the trap (without planning to) where they can’t or just don’t pay the whole thing off. Next month, that balance has accrued interest and they’ve continued to spend. It can snowball really quickly into something that’s unmanageable. If someone is already in this situation, then I’d recommend applying for a lower priced
loan(Borrowell plug!) so that when you make a payment you’re paying off more of your principal balance instead of just the interest.
Debt or no debt, it’s also important to be checking your
credit scoreon a regular basis. It really helps people understand the bigger picture of where they are financially. ”
“Debt or no debt, it’s important to be checking your credit score on a regular basis.”
Borrowell was the first company in Canada to make credit reports free.Why is it so important to make credit reports available to Canadians?
“Credit reports have always been available, but they weren’t easy to get - you either had to wait for it to come in the mail, or you had to pay get it online. In fact, to check your score and report on a monthly basis from a credit bureau would cost about $300 a year! It’s your information and everyone else is looking at it – your bank, your landlord, a future employer. It should be available to you. Making credit reports free democratized the availability of it. ”
Ready to make changes to your financial picture?
What do you find is the top myth regarding credit score?
“The top myth about credit score is that checking your score will lower it. This is not true! Applying for a lot of credit, called “hard hits”, can negatively affect your score. However, checking your own score is a positive behaviour that the credit bureau wants to encourage. It shows that you’re on top of things financially. We’ve even found that Borrowell members who check their score on a regular basis see an increase in their credit score. We believe that awareness and understanding of your score encourages behaviour that will help increase it. ”
Need help explaining the bumps and dips in your credit?
Spoiler alert! Borrowell is going to be launching new features in the next few months. Along with your monthly credit score and report, you’ll also get personalized tips as to why your credit score may have gone up or down.
Having a good credit score can save you money in many ways…Can you share one of the ways that most surprised you?
“Something I discovered when we started working with Sonnet is that there’s a relationship between insurance and credit score. It’s been shown that there is a strong correlation between a person’s credit history and the frequency and severity of their claims. So, insurance companies like Sonnet often reward people with higher credit scores through savings on their home insurance premiums. Another reason to monitor and understand your score. At Borrowell, we’re bringing these and other savings to our customers by recommending Sonnet for their home and auto insurance. ”
So, why do you think it makes sense for Borrowell and Sonnet to be working together?
“Borrowell and Sonnet are trying to do something innovative but, most importantly we’re putting the customer first. So, I think there are a lot of ways we’re aligned. We want to make the process of getting insurance, a mortgage, loan or your credit report streamlined so you can do it on your own. Transparency and education are also a focus of both Borrowell and Sonnet. We want to make sure that people understand what they’re signing up for. In the past, making things easy for the customer to understand hasn’t necessarily been the strong suit of traditional institutions. ”
Why do you think insurance makes financial sense?
“I feel like people should be more positive about insurance! It would cost a lot to replace all of your belongings or pay for unexpected damages out of pocket. We’re really fortunate to have insurance – so when bad things happen you’re covered. Spending your money on insurance is a good thing, because ultimately it provides you with financial protection. ”
“Spending your money on insurance is a good thing, because ultimately it provides you with financial protection.”
Sounds like you’ve experienced the benefit of insurance first hand...Have you ever had to make an insurance claim?
“Yes! Our basement has flooded several times before because of sewer backup. It was stressful! But, we were thankful for our insurance. The repairs and everything was taken care of and it didn’t cost us $30,000 to deal with. It was important that we had the right coverage, though. We had added sewer backup coverage to our policy and also made sure that our tenant had renters insurance. Since these claims, we’ve also taken some preventative measures like installing a backflow valve and sump pump. So far, so good! ”
While we’re on the topic…Can you tell us about your last insurance experience?
“After learning that a good credit score can help lower the cost of your home insurance, I started shopping around for a better price. (My credit is good, but my husband has an excellent credit score!) We did a quote with Sonnet and saw a savings of $55/month! That adds up over time. We were surprised how much we could save. Plus, Sonnet was really easy and straightforward to get a quote. I’d recommend setting aside some time with your existing policy on hand so you can compare. It was so nice to be able to get a home insurance quote at home, at night and not be on the phone with someone. ”
“Sonnet was really easy and straightforward to get a quote.”