FormFree CEO Brent Chandler Leads Drive to Democratize Lending Industry

Brent Chandler

Brent Chandler, the visionary founder and CEO of FormFree, is spearheading a mission to revolutionize the lending sector.

His goal? To democratize access to loans, eradicating biases and barriers prevalent in underbanked and underrepresented communities.

How? By fundamentally reshaping the lending process with innovative digital solutions.

FormFree, under Chandler's leadership, has achieved what once seemed improbable just two decades ago. Through pioneering products, a dedicated team, and substantial resources committed to meeting regulatory standards, the company is empowering consumers and streamlining a lending process in dire need of modernization.

The latest development from FormFree is the launch of a new product line designed to provide fair and equitable lending opportunities for mortgages.

FormFree's Passport is a cutting-edge platform that uses financial data like bank history and recurring payments to present lenders with a more complete look at a borrower’s history. By anonymizing all data before showing it to a lender, FormFree helps people held back by racial biases and a lack of credit history get the same loans as everyone else.

FormFree's RIKI (Residual Income Knowledge Index) is part of the Passport process that calculates a borrower’s Ability to Pay and borrowing power. . RIKI’s data points are presented in an anonymous Qualified Borrower (QB) Medallion lenders use to evaluate borrowers. It’s a groundbreaking technology used to address the issue of credit invisibility among millions of Americans, particularly those from minority Black and Hispanic backgrounds.

Lenders use alternative credit factors like rent payment or residual income history to qualify loans for those traditionally unserved by the lending industry. With Passport, loan-seekers share data directly from financial institutions, allowing lenders to make a more informed lending decision. With FormFree’s RIKI, marginalized people who are unfairly ignored by traditional lenders become lending opportunities.

"We're shifting the narrative by offering a holistic cash-flow analysis," Chandler said. "It's not just about past loans anymore; it's about understanding real financial health. Our goal is to empower everyone with fair financial opportunities."

Brent Chandler: There was a ‘critical need’ in the financial industry to understand consumer DNA

Chandler's vision for FormFree is rooted in the belief that everyone deserves access to financial resources regardless of background. By leveraging advanced technologies and insights, FormFree aims to quantify and secure lending processes, creating a more inclusive landscape for prospective borrowers.

"I founded FormFree on the premise of understanding borrowers at a deeper level," Chandler explains. His inspiration stemmed from personal frustrations during his own homebuying journey in 2007, which highlighted the industry's need for a better grasp of individuals' financial identities.

Chandler's path to entrepreneurship was shaped by his six-year tenure in the Marine Corps, an experience he considers pivotal in honing the skills necessary to lead FormFree.

Transitioning from the military to the fintech sector, Chandler gained invaluable expertise in consumer applications, trading systems, and algorithmic solutions, which included serving in senior-level roles on Wall Street.

Identifying a critical gap in the lending landscape during his quest for a home loan, Chandler shifted his career goals and gave birth to a new pioneering effort that later became FormFree. Drawing upon his diverse professional experiences, he merged insights from every stage of his career journey to address systemic challenges in the lending industry.

Today, FormFree stands at the forefront of innovation, championing consumer rights, particularly within underprivileged, marginalized, and underbanked communities. With Passport and RIKI, FormFree democratizes data to close the wealth gap for low-to-middle income families and informs a consumer’s borrowing power and Ability To Pay.

What Issues Did Brent Chandler See Within the Lending Industry?

While Chandler may not have been the first to see the enduring presence of biases in the lending industry, he was among the few to take a practical approach toward reversing several alarming trends. He founded FormFree with a desire to revolutionize and reverse troubling trends regarding minority lending.

A straightforward examination of the facts exposes a troubling reality: Minority consumers encounter significant hurdles in accessing equitable lending opportunities.

For instance, Black mortgage borrowers confront disproportionately higher interest rates compared to their non-Black counterparts, while Hispanic Americans contend with a staggering 12% denial rate for home loans.

The roots of these disparities trace back to systemic inequities that have plagued the lending industry for generations. Despite advancements such as credit scoring, which emerged relatively recently in our nation's financial history, historically marginalized groups continue to bear the brunt of discriminatory practices.

Compared to Caucasian applicants, the average credit score of Hispanic mortgage applicants is about 20 points lower and the average for Black applicants is 40 points lower.

Additional Statistics:

● According to a report by the Urban Institute, Black and Hispanic mortgage applicants are more likely to receive high-cost mortgages than white applicants, with the gap widening after the 2008 financial crisis.

● A study by the Center for Responsible Lending found that African American and Hispanic borrowers were disproportionately targeted for subprime loans during the housing bubble, leading to higher foreclosure rates among these groups.

● The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported that Black and Hispanic consumers are more likely to be denied credit or offered less favorable terms compared to white consumers, even with similar credit profiles.

Chandler's inquiry into this injustice is both poignant and pragmatic: Why should marginalized borrowers, competent and willing to honor their financial obligations, face higher rates or outright loan rejections based on factors such as geographic location, gender, or race?

The call for systemic change in the lending industry prompted FormFree to develop RIKI, a tool aimed at transforming credit evaluation. Studies reveal that a staggering 50 million Americans are credit invisible, with a significant portion hailing from minority backgrounds.

“RIKI delves into cash flow and residual income, offering a comprehensive assessment, and it’s free to use,” Chandler shared on LinkedIn. “The platform spots overlooked opportunities or risks even in high credit score scenarios. We want to empower everyone with fair financial opportunities.”

How Do FormFree’s Products Change the Landscape of Money Lending?

The evolution of FormFree is focused on putting people first.

“The current system of credit models governed by the few has only served to widen the gap between those who have access to reliable and affordable lines of credit and those who do not,” Chandler said. “Providing bureaus with more non-permissioned data further entrenches the cycle of poverty for marginalized communities. It perpetuates the very system that has denied millions of people and determined unfair loan outcomes since the 1960s, and we’re worse off today.”

Chandler and his passionate team at FormFree are working to create better opportunities for underrepresented and underserved communities.

The company’s innovative products, such as RIKI, delve deep into an individual's complete financial profile, including bank records, income, and expenditures, to gauge their Ability to Pay. Passport then presents lenders with a greater understanding of an individual’s financial DNA in a secured, anonymized Medallion.

Chandler conceptualized and developed a user-friendly platform where individuals can seamlessly connect their accounts and generate their Medallion within minutes.

Recognizing the inherent concerns around security and privacy in such methods, FormFree takes proactive measures. They anonymize user data and empower users to control when and with whom they share it. This approach ensures that user information remains confidential and is only accessible to a chosen lender once a match is established.

"FormFree has a unique perspective," Chandler stated. "We prioritize understanding consumer risk, eliminating bias, and ensuring safety and security. This aligns with government mandates to serve underserved populations and foster market efficiency."

Looking ahead, Chandler envisions FormFree becoming a key player in a reimagined and modernized lending landscape, with millions of users benefiting from its services. His current focus is on expanding FormFree's reach and introducing prospective borrowers to a transformative system that empowers them.

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