Cris Ravazzano began web development as a hobby. He wasn’t even a teenager when he began building websites, but with computer science evolving at a rapid rate, Ravazzano found enjoyment in the new medium. After discovering his love of computer science, Ravazzano decided to pursue a career in it. As they say, choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
The savvy chief technology officer of Loans Canada has been building the brand’s tech infrastructure since 2011. He has helped Loans Canada build its platform into the powerhouse it is today. Now, Canadians can find loan lenders far more easily than ever before. The clever platform gives users the opportunity to search and compare, taking away the hassles of hunting for a loan.
Ravazzano recently took time out of his busy schedule to explain the Loans Canada platform and how it is revolutionizing the lending and borrowing industry.
Cris, can you start off by telling us about Loans Canada and how it goes beyond the traditional personal loan?
Loans Canada is a loan search platform. We actually first launched the website with a focus on mortgages in 2010, and then changed the focus to personal loans in 2012. We’ve been connecting borrowers to lenders for over nine years now. The motivation behind this change of focus was to provide an online, alternative solution to payday loans. Since then, we’ve grown with the personal loan industry in Canada and we’re proud to offer Canadians access to the largest loan network in the country.
The advantage in using Loans Canada, as opposed to applying directly with a traditional personal loan provider, is that we’re able to provide a borrower with multiple options instantaneously. It’s a lot more efficient and advantageous for a borrower to apply with Loans Canada once and choose the best loan option.
Can you tell us about how Loans Canada connects people with lenders? How extensive is the vetting process?
One of the best things about our platform is that it’s actually really simple to use. We only request enough information from customers to figure out which lenders are a good match for them. So, the vetting process is actually quite simple. All a customer has to do is submit a short form on our website, and everything else happens in the background. Since we’re integrated directly with a lot of lenders, customers can seamlessly complete their application request on the matched provider’s website after starting their search on Loans Canada.
How does Loans Canada make loans more accessible to Canadians?
The short answer to this question is choice. Our platform allows consumers to compare to make the best decision, and with solutions that cater to every range of credit rating our platform provides the best access to loans in Canada.
You have been a member of the Loans Canada team for eight years. How did your career lead you to the company?
I’m lucky in that I finished high school at such a young age, which allowed me to complete a professional program in computer science at a local college while I was still a teenager. I joined Loans Canada later on, while I was studying in university. Prior to joining Loans Canada I had some years of freelance and agency experience, so I got to participate in web development and marketing work for a lot of different industries which I think gave me a lot of perspective. I did everything from building small corporate or small business websites, to integrating with MLS feeds, building a health and fitness social network, and even developed Air Canada’s Flight Offers search application on Facebook. Building Loans Canada was quite the challenge especially since we were the first to build something like this in the country.
As Chief Technology Officer, how is technology changing and pushing the loans industry?
Technology in the loan industry is a game changer. Obviously, technology has changed the ways lenders operate, from how they manage their collections processes to improve application and underwriting methods. The integration we see today across third-party banking and credit services with loan providers is making the approval process a lot faster than it’s ever been, and borrowers can get the funds they need quicker.
What is the biggest challenge in implementing new technology in the loan lending industry?
I think the lending industry faces a lot of the same challenges that other industries face. Security and privacy are always major concerns since we have to protect a lot of sensitive data and we work with so many partners. I think the biggest challenge in the loan industry is with software change management. It’s very difficult to change systems and migrate data, especially for lenders with a lot of active accounts. It’s an expensive and tedious process.
Can you tell us about some of the new technology to improve the customer experience?
There’s been a lot of change in the last decade, especially in the form of process automation. I think instant bank verification tools from companies like Yodlee, Microbilt or Flinks in Canada have really influenced the application process and significantly improved the customer experience, especially in the subprime market. A lot of borrowers are limited by their credit scores, but credit scores often don’t tell the full story about a customer’s financial history. For example, a lot of credit scores are damaged by a small mistake that went unnoticed for too long. Bank verification tools help paint a better picture of a customer’s overall financial health, and they provide lenders with important indicators about a customer’s ability to pay back their loan. Before these tools, customers were often forced to provide lenders with copies of their banking history, which for many customers is a difficult thing to do. Bank verification tools help reduce risks for lenders, help get more customers approved and make the application process a lot easier for borrowers.
In January, Loans Canada announced its new Affiliate Program Features and Loan Search Widget. Can you tell us about these partnerships and programs?
Accessibility is really at the heart of what we do at Loans Canada. It’s why we’ve worked so hard to build a platform that integrates with so many loan and credit service providers. We know that providing customers with more choice will help them make better financial decisions. Our expansion of our affiliate program is really just an expansion of this notion. We’ve made it very easy for other businesses or professionals to provide their customers with more options on their websites or apps with our new iFrame widget. We’re the first to offer a truly mobile and embeddable borrowing solution that other web platforms can easily adopt. It allows our partners to keep customers on their own platform while still leveraging our entire set of products and our whole lender network, and installation is super simple. All it takes is a copy and paste!
Loans Canada works hard to educate clients about financial services. What are some of the biggest issues currently facing Canadians in terms of banking, loans, and the economy?
Financial literacy is the single biggest challenge. Home prices are more expensive than ever, we always hear about wage stagnation and the job market is more competitive than ever. So, Canadians are really feeling the squeeze.
What is your advice to anyone interested in starting a career as a CTO?
Try and work in teams and surround yourself with people you can learn from.
Cris, what is a day in your life like?
I usually start work at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m., take a break to work out in the middle of the day and head home by 4:30 or 5:00 p.m.. I prefer to start early and try to end the day earlier rather than later.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I started programming when I was 12.
What makes you smile?
When we get positive feedback from one of our customers.
What scares you?
System error notifications. I’ll probably never get over this.
Do you have any hobbies?
Oddly enough, web development started as a hobby for me and eventually developed into a career. Nowadays, my hobbies are cooking, biking, and working out.
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” – Viktor Frankl
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin
For more information on Cris Ravazzano and Loans Canada, please visit https://loanscanada.ca/