5 questions about managing everyday Americans’ finances with Achieve’s Andrew Housser
- Achieve, formerly known as Freedom Financial Network, offers digital finance solutions like consolidation programs to underserved credit groups.
- Tearsheet sat down with the co-founder and co-CEO of Achieve, Andrew Housser, to learn about his plans for the company and how it caters to the needs of everyday Americans.
As interest rates increase, consumer interest in debt consolidation is rising too, with inquiries about debt consolidation programs rising by 29.1% over the last year. Serving this emerging demand are fintechs like Achieve, which offers digital finance solutions like consolidation programs to underserved credit groups.
Recently, the company raised a new debt facility of $225 million. Participating in the raise was O’Connor Capital Solutions, the private credit unit of UBS O’Connor LLC. According to their press release, the debt is fully committed.
Tearsheet sat down with the co-founder and co-CEO of Achieve, Andrew Housser, to learn more about what he plans to do with the newly raised funds, and how Achieve caters to “the needs of the 123 million consumers in the United States who want to improve their financial lives.”
1) What is Achieve's ethos?
Andrew: We started with the name Freedom Financial Network, which we thought reflected the aspiration of building a network of products and services that could help consumers get to a better financial place. We bootstrapped the business 20 years ago; it was 2002, the dot-com crash. There was no way to raise money, which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us, because we had to build everything from scratch and do it ourselves.
The insight was: can we take asset management’s holistic approach to solving someone's balance sheet and do that on the liability side? As opposed to just having a bunch of point products, can we have a suite of solutions?
But there’s the freedom mortgage company, there's a freedom credit card, there's a freedom bank. The name we loved, but it just didn't work. Hence, we started to create this hodgepodge of disjointed brands for each of our products. Only 20 years later, we had the courage and the capital to say, “Let's change everything and tie it all under this one consumer-focused brand, Achieve.”
2) How does Achieve plan to use the debt facility?
Andrew: Digital transformation is a big theme of ours. We have 430 people in our software engineering, product development data and analytics organization. A lot of this capital we raised will go towards increasing that headcount and making sure our customers can access us digitally.
3) What does Achieve’s digital flow look like?
Andrew: From the first marketing click into a flow, credit pull, underwriting, fraud check, you go all the way to contract signing, without talking to someone or at any point in that flow. Or you can call directly at that point in time or schedule a call with one of our reps, and there'll be someone on the phone within 30 seconds.
4) How is consumer data utilized?
Andrew: We use a lot of data to determine what drives success in different products. The insights regarding which product is right for the consumer based on their income and expenses, their assets and liabilities, their lifestyle, their price, and their personal priorities, is extremely powerful. Having a million data points of consumer success in various programs helps in figuring out the success those consumers can have in various programs. This is also a big part of our investment next year.
5) What is in store for Achieve over the next few years?
Andrew: There's a lot of use cases that are exception paths right now, and we want to fill in the digital capabilities of these corner cases. Also, tying it all together can be very tricky, because there are all these different products that have distinct licenses, different relationships with credit bureaus – how do you tie that all together into a unified experience?
It would be great if we could figure out a way to engage with customers that aren't ready for a debt resolution program or a debt consolidation loan. The apps that we're going to be launching in 2023 will provide a way for consumers to get more value from us and help us access this consumer segment.