Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Maggie. Full name: Margaret Sandhu. I’m the Chief Dog Officer at Grouplend. (That’s right — I’m a dog.)
My humans say I sleep too much. What they misconstrue as endless spells of snoozing are actually prolonged sessions of deep philosophical thought. Silly humans. What does a dog have to postulate on so intently, you might ask? Good question. Topics like, why my humans keep trying to make me wear shirts, the geometric solution to catching my ever-elusive tail, and — most importantly — transparency in the financial industry.
Canada is going through a transformation in personal finance that is shaking up the way Canadians shop for their financial products. For decades, we’ve been beholden to the banks when it comes to managing our finances, and especially in shopping around for the best rates. Looking to buy a house? Looking for a credit card? Your best available rate is what your bank said it is. Finding a competing rate often means setting an appointment, driving all the way across town to a different bank, and going through a lengthy application process all over again. Shopping and researching your options are strongly discouraged. A metaphorical electric fence is placed around your financial yard, and if you venture too far — ZAP!
The solution is clear: we need more options — more transparency. Enter the Internet. One of the great things about the digitally connected world is that it allows us to be smarter consumers. We can look at reviews and compare prices across industries. We can head to Kayak to find the best prices on travel, or to a place like Canadian Black Book to do the same for cars.
I’ve got a friend named Kingston whose humans work here at Ratehub.ca. A few years ago, Ratehub.ca was founded on the idea that Canadians deserve more clarity when shopping for a mortgage and purchasing a home. They’ve been leading the charge to bring a heightened level of transparency and complete disclosure to the financial industry. No more waiting around for business hours; no more booking appointments; no more negotiation with the banks and never knowing if you got the best rate possible. I can see all of my options in a convenient online format, day or night, right from the comfort of my dog bed. They’ve even got handy calculators and informative articles to help people make smarter financial decisions.
At Grouplend, we’ve made a RateHub-esque commitment to full disclosure. The humans that walk around our office are always talking about how unfairly the financial industry has treated people that want to shop around before they make their purchase. Every time you go out to inquire about a credit product with a bank, they do a “hard inquiry” on your credit bureau, which likely affects your credit score. That means that every time you apply for a piece of credit, your score goes down. A lower score makes you seem more “risky” to potential lenders. Counterintuitively, responsibly researching your credit options with the banks actually results in you getting worse offerings. The model discourages people from shopping around to get their best price. That’s dogwash hogwash.
Applying to check your rate for a personal loan with Grouplend doesn’t affect your credit score, because — frankly — it shouldn’t. We do what’s called a “soft inquiry” into your credit bureau, which allows us to see just enough information to give you an interest rate, but doesn’t result in your score being lowered. It’s silly that you’re penalized for shopping with other financial institutions. After all, what other product only reveals its price after you buy it!
Just like Kingston and the folks at Ratehub.ca, we want to help you to be smarter consumers — to see all of your options, so you can make the financial decision that’s best for you.
The financial industry in Canada has been slow to welcome transparency and full disclosure, but through the efforts of services like Ratehub.ca and Grouplend, change is on the horizon. The Internet will inevitably break open our fenced-in financial yard, and we’ll be allowed to roam free — smelling, licking, and chasing whatever financial products we please.
Chief Dog Officer at Grouplend. Responsible for team morale. Expert napper. Champion of the ‘I’ll stare at you until you pet me’ school of thought. Known for stealing co-workers lunches when left unattended. Occasional janitor. Check out @grouplendhq on Instagram for more of her impawsibly cute exploits.