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Brent Chandler’s FormFree: Leading the Charge Towards Transparent and Streamlined Lending Practices

Carl Williams, Tech Times

What does a fintech entrepreneur like Brent Chandler do after a frustrating home-buying experience? He obsesses over it until his solution is to create a company that rewrites the entire script and revolutionizes the house lending industry forever.

Chandler is a seasoned and passionate business owner who founded FormFree in 2007 and serves as its CEO. FormFree is an award-winning lending technology provider that sets industry standards for simplicity, accuracy, and safety.

The company has reshaped the home-buying process for thousands of people across the country, making loans simpler and safer for everyone.

Under Chandler’s guidance, FormFree has been honored as a ten-time HousingWire Tech100 Mortgage award winner and remains at the forefront of industry innovation.

FormFree recently launched Passport®, which was created to capture the holistic view of a consumer’s unique financial DNA while applying deep intelligence and creative thinking. FormFree empowers consumers with their own data to provide the lender with a comprehensive view of their ability to pay.

“Our mission is to empower consumers and invest in them as individuals,” said Chandler, a resident of Athens, Georgia, where FormFree is headquartered. “We’ve revolutionized the lending landscape by giving people control over their data. Rather than just hoping for the best, consumers now see their data as coveted and prized.”

Like many stories of innovation, Chandler’s fascination for transformational change in the financial services industry came after his own frustrating home-buying experience. He wanted to make loans simpler for everyone, so he launched FormFree from his basement to help others navigate the oh-so-frustrating mortgage lending process with a better alternative.

Over 15 years later, his beloved company, FormFree, stands at the forefront of change in an industry that often leaves millions of people unable to find a home. The old ways of credit scoring desperately needed a revamp, and something had to change to make loans more accessible.

Chandler and his inspirational team found an answer.

Armed with over 25 years working in personal finance and wealth management, including on Wall Street, Chandler launched FormFree to democratize lending for all people without bias.

The company has become an industry change agent and offers solutions for countless families and individuals who dream of owning a home.

Formfree has developed a proprietary tool called RIKI that determines a consumer’s Ability To Pay (ATP) for loans. Instead of only looking at someone’s credit score, this gives lenders a better understanding of the person’s financial situation using alternative credit factors like rent payment or residual income history.

FormFree’s launch of its innovative platform, Passport, promises to transform how people access loans every day, marking a significant step towards a more transparent and inclusive financial future.

What Is FormFree, and Why Did Brent Chandler Found the Company?

FormFree is a fintech company revolutionizing the lending industry by streamlining the verification process for borrowers. Founded by Brent Chandler, the company addresses the inefficiencies and frustrations he experienced firsthand during a home-buying ordeal.

The primary purpose of FormFree is to put the power back in consumers’ hands by allowing them to control their financial DNA when accessing a loan.

Chandler is a wildly successful innovator in mortgage lending and financial services with 25 years of experience at the cutting edge of trading, personal finance, wealth management, and consumer financial services.

Chandler’s motivation stemmed from his personal encounter with the mortgage lending process when his family relocated to Georgia from New York City. His house was still on the market; he could not afford two homes but still needed a loan to purchase his family’s next home.

“That’s when I realized they didn’t know who I was,” said Chandler, reflecting on his frustrating experience with mortgage lenders.

“They were assembling all these documents, but they couldn’t assess who Brent Chandler was or my propensity or willingness to pay. You could make some assumptions, but you couldn’t understand my risks. But as a borrower, I desperately needed a loan, so all these factors melded together.”

He realized that if lenders could instantly quantify a home loan empirically and mathematically in a digital format, it would revolutionize the industry. His dream was eventually born, and Chandler founded FormFree to simplify the verification process for borrowers and lenders alike.

By leveraging technology, FormFree aims to make lending more accessible, secure, and equitable for all parties involved.

The company has developed innovative solutions that transcended the lending industry forever.

What Does FormFree Offer?

FormFree has two products that are working hand-in-hand with potential borrowers: Passport RIKI.

One of FormFree’s flagship products is Passport, a secure platform that allows borrowers to manage and share their financial information with lenders digitally.

Passport empowers borrowers to take control of their financial data while providing lenders with reliable and verified information, ultimately expediting the lending process and improving overall efficiency. Passport generates a Medallion with a customer’s data, allowing lenders to see a person’s Ability to Pay.

FormFree has also been recognized as an industry pioneer for launching its Residual Knowledge Income Index® (RIKI®), an innovative method for measuring consumers’ ability to pay for mortgages and other loans based on cash-flow analysis.

RIKI offers lenders a more complete understanding of a loan applicant’s borrowing capacity than traditional credit scores alone, making it possible for lenders to evaluate default risk and extend financing to homebuyers with little to no credit history.

By downloading FormFree’s Passport Wallet® app, consumers can view their real-time Ability to Pay, including their RIKI, and connect with mortgage lenders.

What Barriers Did Brent Chandler Face When Establishing FormFree?

For Chandler, the early years of his company were anything but easy. He had a wife and young children at home when the recession hit. He also needed to move across the country and buy a new home.

He was still new to the industry when he launched FormFree and had to learn the complexities of regulated lending and faced many challenges for upstart newcomers on the scene. It was an uphill battle.

“I didn’t know the inner workings and the deep complexities that existed in the mortgage industry,” Chandler shared, “but I knew if I could get to the people who would use FormFree’s technology, it would be a success. I just didn’t know how to get there.”

Starting his business in 2007 didn’t help either. The financial crisis made any company looking to enter the lending industry exceptionally risky; however, Chandler pushed forward with a deep desire to help people needing a loan.

“The genesis of FormFree really came at a pivotal time for our country and the world,” Chandler explained. “We were going through a global financial crisis and saw the financial industry turn on its head because of a single root cause. It was about the willful disregard of lenders to assess a borrower’s ability to repay a loan. From there, it goes hundreds and thousands of layers deep. So the company came at a tough time in the industry, but it was also a pivotal moment, and nearly two decades later, we are thriving. A lot of what we do even today can be traced back to our genesis.”

Navigating the complexities of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) posed another challenge for Chandler and FormFree. It required government agencies such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to adopt new processes for lenders.

Only after obtaining committee approvals from the FHFA could Chandler and the FormFree team introduce their innovative technology solutions to the public.

To meet the needs of numerous companies, Chandler and his team had to develop hundreds of integrations.

What troubled him the most was the lenders’ skepticism about consumer acceptance of new tech solutions. Despite this, he was confident that if he executed his business plan effectively, people would embrace FormFree’s technology.

It took 15 years for FormFree to succeed.

Chandler understood that giving up prematurely meant abandoning those needing an improved lending process.

What Was the Role of Technology in the Rise of FormFree?

Brent Chandler proudly credits FormFree as the driving force behind the shift towards a fully digital and efficient lending process. However, this wasn’t the reality during the company’s early days. He says many of the manual processes were slowly moving to digital for the first few years after launching his company, which didn’t cut it.

Fortunately, the rapid advancement of the digital age has accelerated the adoption of processes that align with FormFree’s success. In today’s digital-first environment, most financial institutions prioritize online accessibility, catering to most borrowers who manage their accounts online (96% of U.S. adults).

As a result, obtaining a much-needed loan is now just a click away.

What’s in Store for the Future of Lending and FormFree?

FormFree is passionate about bridging the gap for minorities who need a home loan, and the company is on the frontlines in the fight against home-buying discrimination.

While others may think it a bold claim, Chandler foresees a future where everybody can receive fair and unbiased access to credit that’s not based on race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

Around 45 million Americans either don’t have a credit score or possess insufficient financial histories to be deemed creditworthy by traditional lenders. This condition, known as being credit invisible, presents significant hurdles for individuals seeking loans or financial services.

FormFree’s Passport Wallet app introduces a groundbreaking solution: RIKI. RIKI utilizes an individual’s banking information to generate a more accurate picture of their borrowing power. It focuses on real-life financial details like income and expenses, offering a fair and comprehensive measure of one’s Ability to Pay.

Chandler imagines a world of banking and lending where a customer’s financial DNA is updated in real-time, and a consumer’s willingness to pay can be assessed in seconds for any type of credit.

As FormFree continues to advance its line of solutions, it’s evident that the company is progressing toward a transformative future and remains committed to helping people and families buy the homes of their dreams.

“About seven years ago, the industry realized that the consumers are the interested party,” Chandler explained. “The lenders are the byproduct. They provide a need that the borrower has. But for the most part, the borrower is interested in providing this information easily and sustainably.”

By enabling on-demand access to consumers’ tokenized Ability to Pay information—including asset, employment, identity, income, credit and public records data retrieved directly from financial institutions and other authoritative sources—FormFree hopes to make mortgage underwriting even speedier while improving access to credit for low- and middle-income families.

“A modern, streamlined, transparent, collaborative, and more inclusive mortgage marketplace would eliminate a lot of headaches, nurture innovation, broaden opportunities for homeownership among the persistently underserved, and strengthen our industry’s reputation,” Chandler explained. “And it is unavoidably corny but true to say: ‘if you build it, they will come.'”

As featured in Tech Times.

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