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Prabhakar Bhogaraju Appointed FinLocker’s Executive Vice-President, Head of Strategy & Product Development

Prabhakar Bhogaraju Appointed FinLocker’s Executive Vice-President, Head of Strategy & Product Development

Bhogaraju will be responsible for sharpening FinLocker’s go-to-market strategy and oversee the product development of the FinLocker financial well-being app

FinLocker, a leader of next-generation, digital, consumer-permissioned personal financial assistance tools, announced today that Prabhakar Bhogaraju (PB) has joined FinLocker as the company’s new Executive Vice-President, Head of Strategy and Product Development.

PB brings over 20 years of mortgage technology and consulting experience, with the past ten years in executive leadership positions at Fannie Mae in product development, data management, and digital business architecture.  During his tenure at Fannie Mae, PB was instrumental in development of Core Underwriting, Pricing, and Loss Mitigation systems, a number of Fannie Mae’s Single-Family Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), as well as customer facing Business Intelligence, Reporting and Analytics solutions.

PB also brings extensive experience in customer engagement, design thinking, digital business strategy, and product development to FinLocker. He represented Fannie Mae on the boards of the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO) and the Financial Data Exchange.

“It’s an exciting time for me to be joining FinLocker,” said Bhogaraju. “Consumers are looking for intuitive and secure solutions that help to save for a home, buy a car, send their kids to college, save for retirement, and achieve other personal financial goals. My role will be to realize FinLocker’s mission of helping consumers achieve financial well-being and do so on their terms…not those of advertising and marketing businesses”.

In his role as Head of Strategy and Product Development, PB will oversee all aspects of our business strategy, as well as product design and development, by integrating functions across Eric Bloomquist, our Chief Product Officer, and Mike Brown, our Head of Development.

“PB is joining FinLocker at a critical juncture in the company’s development,” said Henry Cason, FinLocker CEO. “Working with PB at Fannie Mae for ten years, I saw first-hand the impact of the system processes he developed and executed to streamline the delivery and management of data services for mortgage lenders and their consumers. The backbone of the FinLocker platform is the secure storage and transfer of consumer permissioned data for financial transactions initiated through the FinLocker platform. Empowering consumers to control what data they share, when they share it, and to whom they share it, can not only reduce friction by streamlining loan applications and processing, but it can also help to establish an additional layer of trust between the consumer and their lender. Our goal is to provide consumers with a positive lending experience so they will become a customer for life with the mortgage lender or financial institution who provided their FinLocker.”

Profile of a Founder Peter Esparrago

The Tech Tribune: Profile of a Founder: Peter Esparrago

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Peter Esparrago (co-founder and executive chairman) of FinLocker, which was honored in:
Tell us the origin story of FinLocker – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

The mortgage industry has always been a laggard in applying technology compared to the other financial services sectors. FinLocker was started with the goal of automating the very manually intensive and high-cost mortgage application and underwriting processes by accessing consumer-permissioned financial data from the source and applying analytics.

Based on customer feedback, FinLocker has evolved by moving its technology capabilities much earlier in the homeownership process, to when the consumer is still just dreaming of buying a home. FinLocker provides the tool and resources to help them achieve their dream by providing real estate search, mortgage and homeownership education, credit report and monitoring, financial account management, budgeting, mortgage readiness, streamlined mortgage pre-approval, and more.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

FinLocker is a B2B2C. FinLocker sells its white-label platform to financial institutions, which they provide for free to their consumer customers. One of the biggest challenges is to serve and satisfy two “masters” – the financial institution and the consumer. Both have their own needs and objectives, and it was challenging to balance in the early years of our startup.

The mortgage industry is very compliance-driven, and businesses are very slow to change their processes and adopt new technologies. By demonstrating our platform to mortgage lenders, they could see the value to their business and their consumers.

What does the future hold for FinLocker?

FinLocker will continue to expand its market-leading technology capabilities to support consumers’ entire homeownership journey. Connecting lenders with consumers when they first start thinking of buying their first home, FinLocker can help consumers improve their credit, save for their down payment and closing costs, get mortgage ready to be strong applicants for mortgage approval, obtain insurance, and perform other home-related services. As homeowners, they can continue using FinLocker to help them to maintain their credit, start new savings goals, and keep them engaged with their lender so they can leverage their home equity for other financial needs, and more.

FinLocker started by first focusing on the mortgage industry. However, FinLocker’s customers utilize their FinLocker for all types of consumer financial transactions like auto loans, insurance, student loans, credit cards, consumer loans, and more.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Missouri?

The St. Louis tech startup ecosystem began to develop a “critical mass” around the 2012-2014 timeframe, when key entities like Cultivation Capital (early-stage venture capital firm), SixThirty (fintech accelerator), T-Rex (startup space), Capital Innovators (tech accelerator), Arch Grants (startup funding), Yield Lab (ag accelerator), Arch Angels (angel investors), Stadia Ventures (sports accelerator), and more came into the picture. St. Louis is now recognized as one of the top tech startup ecosystems in the country.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

For entrepreneurs aspiring to do a startup: have a simple idea that is easily explainable, but you must have a legitimate “secret sauce,” be able to clearly identify your customer and have a large enough market that can support one revenue stream. Once you have identified your product or service, work with your initial customer(s) to co-develop your product or service.

Originally published in The Tech Tribune

FinLocker Partners With EPM To Provide The “Empower” Financial Well-being App To Homebuyers

FinLocker Personal Financial Well-being App Helps First-Time Homebuyers and Low-To-Moderate Income Consumers Financially Prepare To Buy and Own A Home

FinLocker, a leader of next-generation, digital, consumer-permissioned personal financial assistance tools, has partnered with Equity Prime Mortgage (EPM), an independently owned national mortgage lender based in Atlanta, GA, to provide the FinLocker app to its first-time homebuyers, low-to-moderate income consumers in underserved communities, especially the Hispanic community, and their existing borrowers across 49 states.

EPM has white-labeled its FinLocker app “Empower,” reflecting the company’s mission of providing their customers and partners “Freedom Through Empowerment.” This partnership aims to empower consumers with the financial tools and educational resources to improve consumers’ financial literacy and financially prepare them to qualify for a mortgage. Additional tools will sustain the new homeowners’ financial health, enable them to monitor their home’s value and equity, and achieve their next financial goals.

“As a national mortgage lender, EPM is committed to expanding the opportunities to lend in the communities we serve,” said Eddy Perez, CMB, EPM’s Founder and CEO, who also serves as the Chairman of the Corporate Board of Governors for The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. “As a first-generation Cuban American who has found my piece of the American dream, I want to provide the same opportunity to more consumers in underserved communities. EPM will be making the “Empower” app available free of charge to our borrowers, so they have the opportunity to achieve their American dream and start to build their personal wealth through homeownership.”

Consumers will use the EPM “Empower” personal financial well-being app to build credit, manage their finances, reduce debt, create budgets and goals to save for their down payment and closing costs. After closing on their home, the new homeowners will continue to use their “Empower” app powered by FinLocker to maintain their credit and positive financial habits so that they can become successful homeowners.

“The primary reason for mortgage denial among first-time homebuyers, particularly in underserved communities, is credit history and a low credit score, two barriers to homeownership that FinLocker can help aspiring homeowners overcome,” said Brian Vieaux, President, FinLocker. “The growth of Hispanic households is on a sustainable upward trajectory, and young Hispanics have a strong aspiration for homeownership. We are committed to serving all consumers, so some of the homebuying educational resources are available in Spanish, too, to give more of EPM’s consumers an equal opportunity to improve their finances and prepare them for the financial responsibilities of homeownership.”

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About EPM

Founded at the height of the mortgage crisis in 2008, EPM has grown to become one of the leading mortgage lenders in the U.S., operating 18 office locations across the nation. EPM strives to offer top financial service, communication, and assistance to the communities we serve.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, EPM is licensed in 49 states and provides an array of lending resources such as Conventional, FHA, VA, 203K, Reverse and USDA loans, as well as a trusted Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & Ginnie Mae Seller/Servicer. With a dedicated staff of highly experienced professionals, EPM provides exceptional pricing for thousands of clients annually, without compromising follow-through and customer service. For more information about EPM, visit www.EPM.net.

About FinLocker

Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, FinLocker provides a comprehensive personal financial well-being app that financial institutions, mortgage originators, and credit counselors can white-label, and provide to their customers to create goals, save, budget, monitor credit, manage debts, and receive net worth and cash flow analysis, to achieve their financial goals. Within the FinLocker app, users can take a readiness assessment before applying for a mortgage, begin their property search, and securely store personal and financial documents, which can be transferred to a lender directly from the app to start their loan application. Financial service providers utilize FinLocker to generate and convert leads, gain market share, cross-sell value-added products, reduce loan processing costs, decrease risk, and create customers for life. For more information, visit www.FinLocker.com.

Listen to FinTech Hunting Podcast with Brian Vieaux, FinLocker President, and Kristin Messerli, Cultural Outreach

In Fintech Hunting podcast #65, hosted by Michael Hammond, Brian Vieaux, FinLocker President, and Kristin Messerli, founder of Cultural Outreach, discussed strategies to connect first-time homebuyers and consumers in underserved diverse markets with banks and financial services. They also explored how technology can provide impactful high-tech and high-touch tools and education to empower these individuals to improve their financial well-being and prepare to get mortgage ready, in conjunction with advice from their trusted mortgage advisor.

Mortgage originators can learn from the discussion how to use technology to identify highly-qualified predictive homebuyer leads who will be ready to purchase in the next 6-18 months and create a relationship with a diverse market of first-time homebuyers early in their homeownership journey. As many homebuyers do not shop around before selecting a mortgage lender, the likelihood that they will conduct their transaction with the mortgage lender they have an established relationship with is very high.

Podcast: 30 minutes

Click to listen to more Fintech Hunting podcasts > 

FinLocker Appoints Former Fannie Mae Head of Digital Products Henry Cason as Chief Executive Officer

Cason’s Leadership Designing and Developing Digital Mortgage Technology Will Position FinLocker For Growth and Expansion

FinLocker, a leader of next-generation, digital, consumer-permissioned personal financial assistance tools, announced today that Henry Cason would be the company’s new Chief Executive Officer. Henry succeeds co-founder and CEO Peter Esparrago, who will become FinLocker’s Executive Chairman and will continue to lead key strategic business relationships.

Cason joins FinLocker following 27 years with Fannie Mae. During his tenure at Fannie Mae, Henry was instrumental in the design, development, and launch of a digital suite of products and services that drive automation and efficiencies, improve loan origination quality and certainty, while also delivering a modern, digital borrower experience.

“I am thrilled to join FinLocker at this exciting time in the company’s evolution,” said Cason. “As I look across the landscape of technology in the banking and mortgage space, FinLocker is addressing the market in a completely different way. Consumers are looking for customized journeys based on their holistic financial profile, including credit, asset, and income, to achieve their financial goals. FinLocker gives financial institutions a way to deliver customized offers by seeing a full picture of a consumer’s creditworthiness before they make an offer. The consumer can then securely share the data from their Locker directly to the financial institution to make processing and underwriting of all financial products faster and less expensive. FinLocker utilizes consumer-permissioned data at the top of the funnel to get homebuyers mortgage-ready.”

“FinLocker is well-positioned to extend its capabilities in consumer finance as a convergent technology solution that enables consumers to better control their financial and personal data, and make sound financial decisions to achieve their short-term and long-term financial goals,” said Cason. “Working with Peter and other members of the FinLocker team, I look forward to leading FinLocker’s growth strategy as the company solidifies its proficiency in consumer mortgage readiness and expands into additional consumer financial channels,” Cason continued.

“Henry Cason is a transformational leader, who has played a critical role in the digitization of the mortgage industry dating to Fannie Mae’s introduction of Desktop Underwriter in the mid-1990s,” said Esparrago. “His vision involving the convergence of mortgage finance technology with consumer-permissioned data designed to support and empower consumers to take control of their personal financial decisions aligns him perfectly with the long-term strategic objectives of FinLocker. He will be a great addition to the FinLocker team and is the right leader as the company moves to scale quickly in the mortgage industry and expand into other industry verticals.”

Brian Vieaux, FinLocker President, who joined the company in 2019 and will report to Cason, added, “I’ve had the opportunity to work with Henry and his teams throughout my nearly three-decade mortgage career. Having the opportunity to add such a unique talent like Henry to our team is a tremendous accomplishment by Peter and the FinLocker Board, which positions the company well for scale and growth.”

The appointment follows a year of significant developments for FinLocker, which, among other things, successfully closed its $20M+ Series A-1 financing round and announced a commercial partnership with, and equity investment by, TransUnion (NYSE: TRU).

“One of the reasons TransUnion invested and partnered with FinLocker was to leverage new technology to differentiate our best-in-class marketing suite of solutions in the mortgage market,” said Joe Mellman, senior vice president and mortgage business leader at TransUnion. “Cason’s experience designing, delivering, and launching digital mortgage technology will help TransUnion to market these solutions directly to originators so they can reach the consumers they are looking for, be it a veteran, a person with home equity looking to consolidate debt with a cash-out refi, or an aspiring first-time homebuyer. The TransUnion FinLocker partnership will help originators identify more high-quality leads and nurture them to close.”

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