If you’re attending LEND360, you don’t want to miss keynote speaker Stephanie Klein on Tuesday, October 3rd at 2:15pm. Stephanie is the CEO of Braviant Holdings and a recent EY Entrepreneur of the Year Midwest Award Winner. In addition to her role at Braviant, she is a frequent speaker in the fintech community, notably providing U.S. Senate testimony on alternative lending solutions. We caught up with Stephanie in advance of LEND360 on some of the themes she’ll touch on during her keynote and the need for more women in fintech. Here’s some of what she said:
Can you give us a preview of your LEND360 keynote—what are some of the most important trends you see in nonprime lending?
Klein: First of all, I would say the credit risk environment is pretty challenging right now. High inflation tends to disproportionately impact nonprime borrowers due to the correlation with lower incomes. As nonprime borrowers have struggled to keep up with rising expenses, industry-wide credit risk has climbed substantially higher than the pre-Covid baseline. A key focus area for a lot of lenders is understanding that risk and understanding how some of the behaviors or shapes of the default curves might be changing over time in order to proactively manage the portfolio’s performance. Lenders are also trying to figure out how to balance risk vs. volume. In a tough credit environment where you are likely tightening your underwriting, lenders are looking for pockets of volume or new channels to offset cuts in other areas. So credit risk management has been a huge focus and probably will continue to be for another 12 to 18 months until rates start coming down and industry-wide delinquencies begin to normalize.
Another of our big focuses at LEND360, as it has been in past years, is again going to be Women in Fintech, especially as only 5.6% of fintech industry CEOs are women. As part of that small group, what do you see as the challenges that women in fintech face and what advice would you give to women looking to enter the fintech industry?
Klein: Well, first of all we have to acknowledge that there is a lot of room for the fintech industry—whether it’s founders, VC’s, Boards, or other business leaders—to do a better job at considering women for top positions. There’s a lot of data out there showing that having women CEOs, on Boards, etc. is highly correlated to really positive outcomes, so there’s a real business case for the decision makers doing the hiring to look at the many qualified women who are out there.
I think there’s also a need for women who are looking for senior-level fintech jobs to own their accomplishments and confidently put themselves out there for C-Suite opportunities. Like anyone who wants to grow their career, women need to proactively share our professional goals with our managers or mentors and put our name in the hat for new opportunities. We need to face any self-doubt or fear of failure head on and actively shift our mindset to instead focus on all of the reasons that we are likely to succeed. This is true of my own experience; I’ve had opportunities in the past, which in retrospect were career-defining moments, where I spent considerable time debating whether or not I was truly ready to take a big step up in my career. I realize now that I should have said yes to these opportunities right away. Being ready to join the C-suite doesn’t mean you already know everything you need to know; it simply means you have the right core skills, the ability to admit what you don’t know, and a healthy dose of hustle and grit to figure those things out quickly and learn as you go.
So overall, I would say we have a dire need for women to take senior leadership roles in fintech companies and it’s on everybody in the fintech ecosystem to shift the current paradigms.
For more from Stephanie Klein, come to her Keynote Address: Trends and Opportunities in Nonprime Lending, in Centennial I on Tuesday, October 3 at 2:15pm.