Andrew Graham: The Importance of Financial Health

portrait of Andrew Graham
Andrew Graham Andrew Graham is co-founder and CEO of Borrowell, one of Canada’s largest financial technology companies, with two million users. Borrowell helps consumers find financial stability and make great decisions about their money. It was the first company in Canada to offer credit scores for free and offers products and recommendations across a consumer's financial journey.

To what extent do you feel that your tri-sector experience helps you as an entrepreneur?

  • I’ve been leading a company in the financial technology space for a while. That’s a space where there’s lots of regulation. 
  • So understanding what the job of regulators is, how they might think about what’s going to be important to them, and the dynamic between regulators and the political level, I had some exposure to all those issues during my time in government. 
  • My time working with nonprofits has helped me understand the importance of what motivates people to come work for different organizations. The mission matters so much in the nonprofit sector if you’re going to work in the nonprofit sector, you may be taking lower costs than if you were working in the private sector.

Can you speak a little bit about the mission of Burwell, and what initially motivated you to found the company?

  • Our mission is to help people find more financial stability. What that means is we want to help people feel less stressed, and more confident about achieving their financial goals. That could be a variety of things. It could be about getting on a path so that you can afford to buy a house or a condo in a year or two. Or how do you get on a path so that you can buy a car? 
  • Or it could be the case if I’m new to Canada, and how do I establish credit, and there are so many different financial goals we all have. The reality is that finances are a huge source of stress. When you survey people and ask them what their sources of stress are in their
  • life; finances are almost invariably number one, but even above things like family issues about things like health issues. Another leading cause of marriage breakdown and relationship breakdown has to do with finances. 
  • We want to help people by giving them the tools, advice, and recommendations, so that they can get on to a more sustainable, and confident financial path. Our goal is focused on what we can do for someone who wants to understand their financial habits, we do this by providing them with their credit history and telling them how to improve their credit score.  Giving them the  confidence in taking small steps to get to where they want to go.

What is one common piece of financial advice that you really disagree with?

  • One piece of advice, that’s often given is to stay away from all forms of credit for as long as you can. In some situations that may be right if you think you can’t handle any forms of credit. 
  • However, it turns out that establishing a strong credit score is really essential, especially if you’re looking to get a mortgage or access financial products like one. It’s essential to have a credit history, as it’s what bank lenders are looking for. 
  • The first step is to get a low-limit credit card, it makes it hard to overspend. That way it will help build those muscles so that you can responsibly use your credit card.
  • It’s important to ask yourself how do I do this, how do I start working with my credit card in a way that’s going to set me up for future success. Having a credit score and using credit at the beginning of your of one’s life or career is something that’s important.