Davin Gordon | Senior Business Development Officer at AltCap

Welcome back to our Blooom Brain Pickers series!  We’re picking the brains of the best in the biz to inform, entertain, and most of all, educate you when it comes to making personal finance decisions. Today we are honored to feature David Gordon of AltCap. AltCap exists to increase the flow of capital to communities and businesses not adequately served by mainstream financial institutions.

From the very beginning, blooom’s mission has been focused on bridging the gap of financial inequality by giving the average American worker access to affordable investment advice and retirement account management, regardless of account balance.

As a disruptor in our industry, we know that the problems of economic inequality in our country, while very complex, are long overdue for greater focus on a national level. And we know that successfully solving these complex problems will involve far more than a single, unique product or service. 

Blooom is committed to amplifying the voices of individuals and organizations doing big things to help tackle financial inequality across the country and in their own communities, with new ideas and bold approaches that can improve economic and social inequities and help move ALL of us forward.

 

Meet Davin Gordon, Senior Business Development Officer at AltCap

Davin is responsible for identifying and implementing strategies that build awareness and opportunities to support AltCap’s alternative, nontraditional financing products. He coordinates the organization’s programs, as well as administers AltCap’s annual “AltCap Your Biz Competition” and AltCap’s newest loan program Growth Loan. 

His previous work experience includes being a Staff Accountant at the Guadalupe Centers, Inc. (GCI) where he was responsible for all accounts payable and purchasing for their Guadalupe Centers Charter School District.  

Davin was recently recognized as a Kansas City Business Journal NextGen Leader 2019. He is currently on the Board of Directors of Startland, and a 2nd year Centurion through the Greater Kansas City Chamber. He received his B.S. in Business Administration focusing on finance/accounting from Rockhurst University in 2013.

 

Tell us a bit about AltCap and the main problems you are addressing for small businesses and underserved communities in the current economic crisis.

AltCap is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that invest in small businesses, particularly those in mostly black and brown communities. AltCap’s role is to increase the flow of capital to communities and business not adequately served by mainstream financial services industry. AltCap has 12 years of experience deploying high-impact, community-focused capital to underinvested communities and entrepreneurs. Since 2008, AltCap has deployed nearly $250 million in New Market Tax Credits and nearly $15 million in small business financing. When large parts of the local economy closed down due to stay at home orders, AltCap stepped up. We administered the KC COVID-19 Small Business Relief + Recovery Loan Fund, an effort backed by local philanthropies like the Ewing Kauffman Foundation and leading business institutions Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. This loan fund targets businesses that often don’t have relationships with banks and traditional lenders.

 

Can you explain the concept of microloans and how alternative forms of capital can play a major role in economic development in communities across the country?

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) a microloan is defined as a business loan of up to $50,000 to startups and small businesses. Many of our main street and microenterprises don’t need a huge SBA loan (more than $250,000) to run a profitable and successful business. Sometimes, they just need a $20,000 equipment loan for a new piece of equipment which can create a new revenue stream for their business. Others might need $10,000 to hire additional support because the demand for their product has outpaced their capacity with the current staff they have. Microloans can serve as the fuel that a business needs to take their growth to a new level. Microloans can also serve as a bridge between one project to the next. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our country, city and communities so it’s important they have access to the resources they need to be successful. As a CDFI, AltCap understands that access to capital is a huge barrier for many business owners. In addition, we also want to ensure they have access to technical resources to help them cover blind spots and plan for any scenario. Kansas City is one of the greatest cities to start a small business because of all of the amazing resources providers (KCSourceLink, SBDCs, WBCs, etc.)

 

The financial services industry has an unfortunate history of largely excluding individuals and communities that need access to resources like capital, advisory services, and general financial support the most. What do you feel consumers and local business leaders can do that will help support economic development of underserved communities the most?

The first step is understanding our history of exclusion and intentionally leaving certain communities out of the mainstream financial services industry. Next, we must elevate the voices and perspectives of those individuals and communities that have been excluded and bring them to the decision making table. This is the time that we recreate the way we make decisions and leverage the experience of the end-user to inform us how to best serve and support their communities. We also have to hold our local officials accountable and demand transparency.

 

What personal or professional experiences have helped shape your passion for community development?

While working at the Guadalupe Center as a Staff Accountant, I had the opportunity to participate in a leadership fellowship for future Latino Leaders organized by National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB). This program inspired me to want to do more for my community. I didn’t feel like I was making the impact I wanted to have on my City by crunching numbers and reconciling spreadsheets all day. This fellowship opened my eyes to the possibilities and potential inside of me to leverage my creativity and entrepreneurial mindset to change the way we look at community development.

 

What is the best and/or worst financial advice you have ever received personally?
The best financial advice I’ve received is it’s never too late to start planning for your financial goals.

 

The information is provided for discussion purposes only and should not be considered as advice for your investments. While the data from third parties is believed to be reliable, we cannot ensure the accuracy or completeness of the data provided.

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Sheila Bair | FDIC Chair, Author, Professor

Welcome back to our Blooom Brain Pickers series!  We’re picking the brains of the best in the biz to inform, entertain, and most of all, educate you when it comes to making personal finance decisions. Today we are honored to feature former FDIC Chair, Sheila Bair.

Sheila Bair has had a long and distinguished career in government, academia, and finance.   Twice named by Forbes Magazine as the second most powerful woman in the world, she is perhaps best known as Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from 2006 to 2011, when she steered the agency through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  For her efforts to protect bank depositors and homeowners during the crisis, she received the Kennedy Library’s Profiles in Courage Award, and was named “the little guy’s protector in chief” by Time Magazine. A former finance professor and college president, Ms. Bair has been nationally recognized for her innovative initiatives to make college more accessible and affordable. She is a frequent commentator and op-ed contributor on financial regulation and the student debt crisis, as well as author of the NY Times Best Seller, Bull by the Horns, her 2012 memoir of the financial crisis.

Ms. Bair currently serves on a number of corporate governing boards, including Host Hotels, Bunge Ltd., and Fannie Mae, and on the International Advisory Board to the Santander Group. She also serves on the board of Paxos, a blockchain technology trust company, and as an advisor to several fintech startups.  She is a founding director of the Volcker Alliance, established by Former Federal Reserve Board Chair Paul Volcker to build trust in government and is the founding chair of the Systemic Risk Council, which advocates for financial stability. In addition, she is a Senior Advisor to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation on financial issues confronting young people.

Are there lessons from the Financial Crisis that could help us in our current situation? 

Get the help to Main Street. We didn’t do that with the bailouts of 2008/2009. Government support was highly concentrated on the financial sector. It didn’t trickle down. Even while Wall Street was reaping profits– and paying bonuses– by the end of 2009, it took about 10 years for most working families to recover.  This time around, the Fed is making yeoman’s efforts to reach the real economy but their current monetary tools are just not well equipped to do so. Their programs are still primarily helping big banks and big corporates. On the fiscal side, the small business programs and cash payments to households, including EIP payments are helping. EIP has boosted the consumer spending which underpins our economy. But the process of getting those payments to households has been slow and arduous.  Digital currency technology provides part of the answer. Giving all families a digital wallet where they could receive Fed-backed digital currency would be much faster and much more secure against fraud than our current system. The technology is there and could be in place within the next few years if we have the will to do it.

 

What is the best and/or worst financial advice you have ever received personally? 

Worst Advice: getting a credit card fresh out of college to “build my credit history”. I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to manage credit card debt, and quickly became addicted, eagerly accepting all those credit card offers banks were sending me.
Best Advice:  stick to one credit card.

 

What do you think should be done to improve financial literacy in our country?  

Start at an early age. Embed it in elementary and secondary core curricula like math.  Be serious about it, with quality content written by un-conflicted sources (unlike the industry literature that advised me to get a credit card.)  And don’t use it as an excuse for anti-consumer practices. One thing that really sends me up the wall is to hear industry officials trying to defend irresponsible financial products by saying we just need more financial education. 


You have paved the way for a lot of women in the banking/finance industry, what advice would you give to young women interested in banking/finance? 

It can be a great career choice. Financial services done right can be of huge benefit to families and Main Street businesses. Don’t forget that there are human beings on the other side of those services you are providing.  Treat them right. Research shows women tend to be more compassionate and a bit more risk averse when it comes to finance. We should be proud of those traits and use them to improve banking culture. 


As a children’s book author, what would your advice be to parents when it comes to teaching financial literacy? 

You need to be financially literate before you can help your children. So educate yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions or “look dumb”. I hate to say it, but I think a lot of the esoteric terminology and complexity in financial services today are meant to intimidate consumers into not asking questions.  One of the reasons I write picture books for kids is in the hope that parents will read them with their children and learn something themselves.


In your time as FDIC Chair, what was the most challenging aspect of your role?  

Trying to get more help for homeowners. We had some success with mortgage relief, but the government should have done so much more.


In your time as FDIC Chair, what was the most rewarding aspect of your role? 

Giving people peace of mind about the safety of their FDIC-insured bank deposits. During the depths of the crisis, the late Bill Keane drew a Family Circus cartoon showing Bill peacefully asleep in his bed, with his piggy bank next to him, on which he had drawn “FDIC”. I had that cartoon framed, and it still hangs prominently in our home. 

Twitter: @SheilaBair2013

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Pam Krueger | CEO of Wealthramp

Welcome to our first installment of… (drumroll please)… Blooom Brain Pickers!  We’re picking the brains of the best in the biz to inform, entertain, and most of all, educate you when it comes to making personal finance decisions. Pam Krueger

Pam Krueger is the creator of the award-winning MoneyTrack investor education television series that ran nationally on over 250 PBS stations.  She is the recipient of two Gracie Awards, educating the public about personal investing, and finding the right financial advice.  In 2017, Pam rolled out a one-hour special, MoneyTrack: Money for Life on PBS stations to explain what the fiduciary standard means to consumers.

Pam launched Wealthramp.com, the largest network of expertly vetted, fee-only fiduciary advisors to help consumers looking for qualified financial advisors who are independent and not commission-driven sales reps. Wealthramp is available to both individuals and employers who offer the service as a financial wellness benefit. Wealthramp uses an eHarmony style algorithm to match individual investors to the best-fit advisors and is available to consumers at no cost.

Pam has served on the board of directors of the California Jump$tart Coalition, an organization dedicated to increasing financial literacy among children and teens. She received the Financial Educator of the Year Award from the Financial Literacy Institute.

 

What is the best and/or worst financial advice you have ever received personally?

Without a doubt, the worst advice I ever got came from a very dear friend many years ago who really wanted me to invest in private mortgages ten minutes before the housing bubble burst. I never did take his advice but he did lose his shirt (or two). I just don’t consider myself wealthy enough to invest in alternative investments. I’m like a granny, I stay in my lane, and I stick to the boring basics. Best advice? Diversification wins all battles because… well… it does.

 

What are your thoughts on the future of financial advice and the direction of the industry in the coming decades?

I see the best possible combination is robo + human. The trick is finding the best available of both the robo-world and the human side. Let’s face it, we are emotional creatures and sometimes we really do need a living, breathing advisor to collaborate or to work through problems. Perhaps not now, but probably later. That’s the beauty of having robust online tools to help you manage on your own. I don’t see the future of advice as robo instead of human advisor, I see it as in addition to human advice. The older we get, the more complex our financial lives become and you may want someone to guide you one-on-one. But here’s the real challenge: human advisors are not created equal so the key is tapping the true talent, not settling for ‘just okay’ advice— especially if you’re about to retire!

The idea of combining technology + financial advisors also contributed to the creation of my company, Wealthramp. A viewer from our TV series, MoneyTrack on PBS. She was frustrated because after the financial crisis she felt she needed an advisor and she’d just fired her broker. She asked me point blank: why do I hate financial advisors? I told her I really don’t hate all of them. I love 5% of them. Given that so few are truly competent and put their clients’ interests first. That’s when the lightbulb went off and I had to ask myself why am I being so negative about the bad advisors when all I have to do is identify the excellent advisors and create a network of them across the country and let people come to me so I can match them to the best-fit advice that’s truly fiduciary. That’s how Wealthramp was born and it took me no less than four years to curate my network of fee-only advisors. I wanted to make sure that when a retiree worried about running out of money needs an experienced retirement income strategy, that person can turn to me. When someone comes to me and has a special needs family member to support, for example, I needed to make sure I’d be able to tap into my network and introduce that consumer to the best advisor possible for special needs planning. Or when a young software engineer at a late stage start up needs to understand his stock compensation and has only 90 days to make a life-changing decision, he knows I have the experts in private stock options and no one is going to sell them anything.

 

What is the one thing you wish more people knew about, given your experience in the industry?

As children we should have been taught the basics about how capitalism works, the economy, credit, practical money skills and an introduction to investing. These are life skills and if we’d gotten that baseline education, I probably would not be in business today. 🙂 All kidding aside, people deserve to feel more confident about their own personal finances, and too many feel embarrassed. That’s just wrong and it creates a lot of financial stress.

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