Understanding finances can be a challenge for some, which is why companies like Bills.com exist.
One of the Freedom Financial Network companies, it describes itself as providing innovative solutions that empower individuals to live healthier financial lives. This includes making better financial decisions — whether it’s homeowners understanding loan options and making smarter mortgage decisions, or learning about and getting transparent around debt solutions.
Brad Stroh, co-founder and CEO of Bills.com and its parent company, Freedom Financial Network, LCC, spoke with RewardExpert about the company.
Headquartered in San Mateo, California, Freedom Financial Network also operates in Tempe, Arizona. More than 1,700 people are employed with the company, which has been voted as one of the best places to work in the San Francisco Bay and Phoenix areas.
Stroh, along with co-founder Andrew Housser, started discussions 20 years ago about a business that would meet three criteria: making a difference for people who required financial assistance; helping employees achieve professional goals; and creating a new way of combining people and technology to deliver meaningful service to consumers.
While the pair studied at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, they analyzed dramatic growth in delinquent consumer debt, along with the resulting growth and success of creditors and their collection representatives.
The norm in the industry then was creditor-funded counseling agencies, which caused an inherent conflict for consumers. The two men foresaw impending bankruptcy reform that would leave consumers in serious debt and without options.
“We recognized a major need: For consumers to have professional help in the collections process to level what was a one-sided playing field,” Stroh said. “Typically, the lone consumer — often financially stressed and ill-equipped to represent their own needs — would be up against the largest banks in the world and their collection representatives. If that consumer wanted representation, the only option was to hire a lawyer, which was cost-prohibitive.”
Freedom Financial Network was created in 2002, and it is now the largest debt settlement provider in the United States via its Freedom Debt Relief business. Bills.com aims to educate consumers on personal finance.
A one-stop shop
Stroh calls Bills.com a “one-stop portal” where numerous complex issues can be learned by consumers.
“For mortgage information and help, we don’t think there is a more complete or transparent resource available,” he said. “Consumers can find guides, articles, and advice to educate themselves on home purchase loans, mortgage refinancing, home equity loans and reverse mortgages.”
Mortgage calculators can determine whether consumers are financially ready to purchase a home or refinance a mortgage. The company has a network of more than 200 reputable lenders that compare and help achieve the best rates.
Financial security and expanded help
Stroh’s advice pertain to using his company’s resources; notably, figuring out how to live below one’s means.
“That goes further than living within your means,” he said. “It involves taking responsibility and choosing where your money goes, instead of being influenced by whims, advertising, habits or peer pressure.”
He implores consumers to think before acting.
“Truly budget-conscious individuals need to remember that nothing is more important than protecting their well-being — physical, mental, emotional and financial,” he added.
The company also offers help with insurance, auto loans and student loans. It’s currently looking at expansion to provide even more rate comparisons, using tools like Debt Coach and Debt Navigator to help make decisions.