Casey Powers, CEO of Climb Credit, discusses Climb's innovative business model and her number one piece of advice for women at work.
Liz: How does Climb promote inclusivity in lending practices; in particular, what are its views on consumers who have thin files, no files or damaged credit?
Casey: That's a great question. Something really exciting about Climb is we're able to offer a very inclusive product relative to what's out in the market — one that’s very reasonably priced for borrowers with thin files or no files. The way we do that is with a two-pronged strategy. First, in evaluating credit, we underwrite that application (for a learner attending a full-time program) considering their future earnings: The salary they’ll make upon completion of that program rather than their current income. In doing so, we're able to say ‘yes’ to a lot of people who aren't currently or fully employed, yet we value the education they're investing in.
The second piece is we partner with our schools to actually take on some risk of loans, especially for borrowers with low FICO, no FICO or short credit histories. Those schools are willing to align their incentives and take on some risk of funding the education they're providing, which helps put that learner on the right path and get them a job they need to repay their loan. In turn, the borrower enjoys much better interest rates than those in the alternative payday or credit card spaces.
Liz: What is a challenge you’ve faced as a female leader in FinTech, and how did you address or overcome it?
Casey: One of the big challenges of being a woman in finance or in FinTech I’ve faced is considering and choosing motherhood. It can be fairly intimidating because you worry about stepping back from your career, taking time off, or needing more time to be both good at your job and being a mother. Under its female leadership, Climb has done a good job of normalizing that decision and journey.
It's not sustainable to work crazy hours (and demand that of your teams) because women can sometimes be forced out when they do decide to prioritize having a family. It's really hard to make that decision if you're not seeing other people in leadership who’ve made that decision and been successful in balancing their choices.
It's really important to me to show young women it’s okay; that I had a baby, took maternity leave and all those things. As they navigate their careers, I think it removes the worry from their minds that they're going to have to make a decision and it's an either/or situation.
Casey Powers is the CEO of Climb Credit, an education finance company that evaluates the return on investment of education programs and helps consumers find, evaluate, and finance these programs to increase their earning potential. She became CEO in February 2022 after serving as Climb’s COO for the 3 prior years.