Out of the Box or Build Your Own?

Out of the Box or Build Your Own?

By J Douglas Maxwell, Chief Financial Officer, American First Finance

It is an exciting time in the fintech industry, as more companies are investing time in transforming their internal software to fit their needs best. At American First Finance, we receive thousands of applications each month for our retail installment contract, bank loan, and lease-to-own solutions, so our technology solutions must help us to quick decision those applications, effectively convert approved applications into approvals, and service customers once they have an approved and signed agreement. Additionally, we need the flexibility in our tools to reduce our time to market as we continue to enhance and add to our portfolio of financial products.

"Making the shift to a proprietary technology solution has enabled us to meet customer expectations faster"

As agrowing fintech company, we also need to be sure that any technology we implement will help us sustain healthy growth while providing a strong return on investment. After defining a long list of specifications needed, in 2015, American First Finance went through a technology renovation effort. It replaced our internal loan management system with a new, propriety loan origination software.

The previous loan management software we were using did not meet our expanding business requirements, which limited product innovation. As we started growing and adding more unique financial products to our portfolio, we had to retire our former software and move beyond a “cookie-cutter” approach and start being “innovators” by taking a technology-driven approach to customizing our operations and automating core business processes.

Traditional loan management systems perform basic transactional activities, such as tracking new loans, generating amortization schedules, and applying payments toward principal and interest. However, the needs of the business extend well beyond mere transaction processing. At American First Finance, we recognized the need to turn data into information that is useful for decision making. The new software solution, KwikLoan, was customized to meet the growing requirements of each department at. It is a robust program that is integrated throughout the organization—from our merchant care department to our data science team, to our retail partners and end consumers. Designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, it reduces complexity and provides us with a single-source data repository for every interaction with our customers as well as with our merchant partners.

The advantage of a single repository is that the same data can be disseminated to multiple functional groups within the organization. KwikLoan is significant for our finance team in terms of automating daily customer account reconciliations, which feeds directly into the monthly financial reporting processes. The Data Science team benefits from having access to real-time data analytics that can now be used to help boost our company’s performance. KwikLoan is helping us take control of key financial processes by minimizing manual processes errors. It allows us to be efficient in our day-to-day responsibilities.

Technology is an integral and vital component of American First Finance’s growth and success, and it is a critical part of our continued efforts to transform our business through automation while enhancing decision making by converting data into information. This conversion of data into information allows support groups to serve as strategic advisors to the business, supporting operations initiatives, and improving processes across the organization.

Making the shift to a proprietary technology solution has enabled us to meet customer expectations faster, easier, and more accurately—which has also helped us become a leader in the industry. Most importantly, technology innovations will continue to positively impact the American First Finance brand well into the future.

Although the large undertaking we have undergone has been significant, it is important to know that the road we are on is a continuing journey. We are focused on developing cutting-edge technology to ensure we are delivering a seamless experience for our customers, retail partners, and our employees through continuous innovation.

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