You know the credit system in our country is broken when the former head of the Federal Reserve can’t refinance his mortgage. Former Chairman Ben Bernanake told a conference yesterday that he was denied a mortgage refinance on his Washington, D.C. home.
Yes, you read that right. There’s a financial institution out there (let’s be honest, probably one of the big banks) that thinks Ben Bernanke might not pay them back. That’s insane.
Bernanke’s situation shines a bright light on a fundamental problem within the modern financial system, and one of the core reasons we set out to build Earnest. Decision-making in banking is based on inputs that are an inaccurate proxy for someone’s actual credit worthiness, especially for young people or people who have recently experienced a dramatic change in their financial situation (like Bernanke).
In Mr. Bernanke’s case, he went from a public sector salary to a dramatically higher income, including a speaking fee that would require only a few speeches to pay off the entire house. Yet, when an applicant walks into most banks, all the bank sees is a FICO score and outdated past income data. It should be concerning to any American that our credit system can’t properly evaluate a MIT-educated, PhD economist who has a high salary job at one of the nation’s leading think tanks. Banks are misunderstanding that applicant’s full situation and very often either unjustifiably declining financially responsible people altogether or dramatically over-charging them.
It was seeing this misalignment, the mistreatment of customers and the under-utilization of the data that exists in our modern world that inspired us to start Earnest. There’s a better way to extend credit, and we’re working hard to build that future right now.
So, to Mr. Bernanke, it’s a no-brainer for us to pre-approve you for our largest loan at our lowest rate. And to all who have been frustrated with the shortcomings of yesterday’s banking system, we invite you to try out a better way of doing business. We hope to hear from you soon!