Giving Community Credit with Carrie Asprinio
Carrie Asprinio is a distinguished banker, fintech founder, and Web3 entrepreneur based in Greater Boston. She is the Founder and CEO of Ascension Digital Partners, an innovative business consulting company that caters to forward thinkers. Carrie also serves as the Chief Operating Officer for The SAFE Coalition, a community organization dedicated to educating and supporting individuals and families affected by substance use disorder and mental health concerns across southeastern Massachusetts.
Carrie has had a notable career spanning 15 years at Wells Fargo, where she held several leadership roles including SVP of Commercial Strategies, Senior Market Strategist for the Funds Management Group, and Relationship Manager in Commercial Banking. She has also co-founded and held various executive positions at Numerated, a digital lending platform that creates exceptional business banking purchase experiences for banks and credit unions.
Carrie holds an MBA from Golden Gate University, a Bachelor of Science from Santa Clara University, and has completed additional studies at the Startup Institute in Boston.
Eve #wealthwednesday Highlight 80: Carrie Asprinio, Founder & CEO - Ascension Digital Partners
What was your first-ever investment?
I give credit for the majority of my investment knowledge to my father who grew up in Pennsylvania and had a teacher's college in his town. Despite becoming a math teacher, I think in another life he would
be a fantastic investment broker on Wall Street because he has phenomenal investment savvy. I learned from him at a very young age. His teacher's salary provided everything my sister and I needed growing up. I was able to attend college with minimal student loans, and I witnessed the power of investing firsthand. I still turn to my father for investment advice, even now that he is 80 years old. In fact, I brought him to the crypto conference, Consensus, last year where we both learned about cryptocurrency together. This is just the way I was raised, and I am grateful to have started learning about investing at a young age.
How and why did you get into your space?
My career in banking was not exactly planned. When I was a college student, I was at the career center searching for more interviews. I found myself at the bottom of the alphabet and signed up for an interview with Wells Fargo. I had no particular interest in banking at the time, but I was fortunate to meet some truly exceptional people during the interview process. This led to a 15-year career in commercial lending and various other areas within the company. Throughout my time at Wells Fargo, I always prioritized building relationships with my colleagues and being a loyal member of my team. I completed their Financial Analyst and Credit training programs and was able to support small businesses through commercial lending, which allowed me to witness firsthand the positive impact that access to funding can have on a business and its community. This experience ignited my passion for supporting small businesses, and it continues to drive my work in the banking industry today.
What role do you play in the wealth space, particularly on the credit side and why is it important?
I believe that access is a critical factor in the financial industry, and that is what we sought to address at Numerated. Our company emerged from an incubator at Eastern Bank where I collaborated with several brilliant innovators to launch a digital lending platform that offered small businesses speedy access to funding. Time is a precious commodity for small businesses, and they cannot afford to waste it in traditional application processes that may take weeks, only to be declined eventually. Our platform facilitated quick access to funding for these businesses.
Credit can be used for various purposes, and it is often vital for small businesses. For instance, during the pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided loans to enable businesses to continue their payroll. At Numerated, I played a crucial role in assisting banks in understanding how to assess the profile of businesses for credit. I worked to identify trends and create rules for who qualifies for credit to streamline the approval process. This enabled banks to manage their time efficiently, and speed up the process of getting credit to businesses that need it, thus benefiting the overall ecosystem.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve learned that you would want others to know, particularly in the digital credit and web3 space?
As someone who missed the initial boom of the internet, I am fascinated to be a part of the revolution. I find it very exciting to observe the evolution of technologies, particularly the emergence of Web3 technologies that can transform the way we operate in the near future. I am especially thrilled by the prospect of a more virtual space with avatars that would be more inclusive and engaging for everyone.
My aspiration is to contribute to empowering women and making decisions that will shape this space, allowing more people to participate. It will be interesting to observe which industries the technology will impact, although some industries such as banking may take longer to adapt. Overall, I am eager to continue pushing the boundaries of technology and discover new ways to improve our daily lives.
Is there a person or a company that’s really inspired you? And why?
I believe that one of the key aspects of moving forward with lending is having a clear understanding of who you are lending money to. In the past, this was achieved by physically visiting the borrower, inspecting their inventory, and meeting with them in person. However, with the digital age, this process has become more challenging. Many companies are attempting to address this challenge, and any efforts to improve the "know your customer" (KYC) process is crucial to advancing digital lending. It is essential to be confident that you are lending money to the right person, and there are ways to accomplish this using identity verification. Improving the KYC process will not only benefit the lending industry but can also be applied in other areas where trust is necessary. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to any advancements in this field.
We had an excellent turnout for the roundtable, and I was delighted to be involved in organizing it. I gained new insights into the credit union industry that I was not aware of before. In particular, Curql Technologies stood out as a company that is working to bridge the gap between fintech companies and credit unions. My previous experience with fintech focused on larger dollar deals and banks, so it was enlightening to learn about the important role that credit unions play in the industry. Jim Ryan’s presence at the roundtable was especially beneficial, and we were able to establish connections between fintech and banks as a result of the discussion. Overall, this was a standout experience for me.
What is a Credit Union?
Credit unions have a rich history, starting with community needs such as groups of people or companies with financing needs. The idea of a credit union is to bring individuals together to share resources, which led to rules and protocols being created around credit unions. The concept started forming in different states and even outside the United States. The main focus of credit unions today is to serve the community's needs, and while it's important to stay in business and make money, that's not their initial focus. Credit unions are keen on lending credit to specific groups, such as domestic violence survivors. Research has shown that microloans given by credit unions can help domestic violence survivors get on their feet. Credit unions are piloting programs that show how to balance the risks and manage their balance sheet and business in this regard. As such, credit unions are always looking for new ways to serve their communities while still maintaining a sound business model.
What advice do you have for someone getting started?
As someone who has seen many accomplished women hesitate before stepping into a new role or industry, I believe that it's important to get involved before you feel completely ready. It's common for women to feel like they need just a little bit more experience or knowledge before taking the next step, but I've learned that there are no true experts in any field, especially in emerging industries like Web 3. Instead of waiting to feel fully prepared, it's better to jump in and learn alongside others. Self-awareness is also key; understanding your strengths and weaknesses can help you build a team that complements your skills. Even in my personal life, I've learned that there's never a perfect time to take on big changes like having a child. But with time, we all figure it out. My advice is to take on new opportunities even if you feel unprepared and trust that you will figure it out as you go.
On the Crypto, Metaverse, and Web3 side, I know a lot of people who do not believe in these concepts. Once they hear it, it’s a big eye roll. In my experience, there is research available on these topics. I encourage people to do their own research and form their own opinions. You can trust your instincts and listen to the experts and high-ranking executives, but ultimately, it is up to you to form your own perspective. For example, when I took a break after leaving Numerated, I had time to thoroughly research blockchain by reading white papers and going deep into the topic. Based on my findings, I believe that blockchain is a technology that is here to stay. It is important to gain confidence in your knowledge and form your own opinions, even if they go against what others believe. Those who trust their instincts and take risks that others ridicule often end up achieving great success. Over time, opinions and perspectives change, and the same can be said for the credit cycles. While there is currently a lot of noise and skepticism surrounding these ideas, I believe that the tide will turn and perspectives will shift. It is up to each person to decide whether they want to do the research and determine their own beliefs.
How can we stay in touch?
My company is Ascension Digital Partners. You can also connect with me via email at [email protected] My focus is on providing assistance to small businesses, startups, and nonprofits in two specific areas. Firstly, I am dedicated to promoting female empowerment and secondly, I am working on addressing critical needs such as alternative healthcare providers. If your business requires help in any of these areas, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at your convenience.
Have thoughts on this week’s topic or question for me or Carrie? Post your thoughts in the comment section. Until next week.🙂
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DISCLAIMER: The thoughts and views expressed in this video do not constitute financial or investment advice.
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