Wisr (ASX:WZR) – Anthony Nantes



The CEO Mindset - Anthony Nantes is the Chief Executive Officer of Wisr (ASX:WZR)

Anthony Nantes is the Chief Executive Officer of Wisr (ASX:WZR), Australia’s only ASX listed neo-lender and a fintech pioneer in the rapidly growing Australian consumer finance market. Wisr’s purpose is to help everyday Australians access smarter and fairer credit, when it comes to their personal finances. Fusing the best of emerging fintech with the operational reliability of a traditional lender, Wisr is committed to building products, apps and services that help Australians pay down their debt faster.

What’s your journey in becoming a CEO?
My career has been driven by my passion for technology, innovation and asking and trying to solve the very big questions. At university I studied a mix of Philosophy, Astrophysics & Computer Science at the University of Melbourne, and always harboured dreams of becoming an Astronaut, even into my 20’s.

The early part of my career was a combination of management consulting, leading technology focussed businesses and launching my own side-hustles to varying levels of success and failure.  I learnt more about what it takes to really be successful to a high level of performance from my own projects and start-ups, but the really valuable lessons in people leadership, management and effective collaboration came from my corporate roles. 

I’m also passionate about helping the community, especially those that are the most disadvantaged, particularly youth. I’ve been actively involved in founding and leading a variety of non-profit organisations, including serving on the Board of Directors and as Executive Chairman of one of Sydney’s best indigenous youth focussed organisations, Weave Youth & Community Services.

In 2015, I was appointed as Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Prospa, a commercial business lending fintech company, which during my tenure in 2015 was recognised by Deloitte as the fastest growing technology company in Australia.

In 2016, I was appointed CEO of ASX-listed peer-to-peer lender, DirectMoney. I had a very clear vision to wind up the previous model and pivot the business, which I did at the end of 2016, renaming the company to Wisr, and ceasing the peer-to-peer model by adopting new funding structures that facilitated the scaling of the business and its growth trajectory we’re on today.

Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercializing?
Wisr is Australia’s only ASX listed (ASX:WZR) neo-lender and a fintech pioneer in the rapidly growing Australian consumer finance market. Our purpose is to help everyday Australians access smarter and fairer credit, when it comes to their personal finances. We’re completely re-inventing what it means to be a consumer finance company, built on innovation and a genuine commitment to the financial wellness of our customers.

For the last three years, we have been building a strong foundation of market-leading technology and proving our innovative lending model. We reached a turning point in the company’s strategic plan with our “mature stage” warehouse debt funding facility becoming operational in November 2019, which will significantly and rapidly grow the revenue Wisr recognises going forward.

We also achieved an oversubscribed capital raise in January 2020 ($36.5 million), which is supporting our strategy to provide Wisr a platform to scale and grow through a unique combination of financial wellness products that complement the core lending business which is called the Wisr Ecosystem.

We’re building a company of significant scale, purpose and profitability in a way that hasn’t been done before and our numbers, and risk exposure are showing that Wisr’s purpose-led model is a real differentiator in the market.

How are you managing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
It’s certainly been one of the most challenging professional times of my life, just as it has been for millions of people, in Australia and around the world.

From a company perspective, we’ve had a work from home policy in place since the 16th March to ensure the wellbeing and safety of our staff. It’s been going very well, we haven’t had any disruption to normal business operations, in fact we achieved a company milestone, surpassing $200 million in loan originations.

We have a fantastic working-from-home tool kit that’s really helping our staff, as well as daily initiatives to keep our high-performance culture thriving.

We’ve been running an ongoing scenario and stress testing analysis on our company’s credit policy origination parameters, approaches to potential pockets of industry-specific risk, and portfolio management strategies for customers who may encounter difficulties or require hardship assistance.

Because of our credit decisioning, we have the flexibility to adapt and integrate tighter controls very quickly.

We’ve also implemented a risk-based approach to factor in industry sectors and employment types which have been significantly impacted. This has ensured a very low balance sheet exposure to high risk categories that have been or will continue to be most impacted by COVID-19.

What’s been very positive is that the small percentage of customers that have been affected by COVID-19, have all been engaging with us directly. Our focus now has shifted to what we do at the end of the financial assistance period to help get those customers back on their feet.

We’ve also seen an increase in engagement with Wisr@Work partners to align with remote work conditions to deliver solutions that will help to alleviate the financial stress of companies and their employees due to COVID-19.

On a personal front, with three young children in the home and both parents working, it’s been a unique experience for the family. There’s been some amazing new traditions started (making pizza from scratch on Sundays, and new family games), along with adjustments to how we spend our days and the split between work and family time. The lesson here has been around just how adaptive we are as a species, and how quickly we can normalise significant change.

What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
Coming to work every day to be inspired and amazed at what our team can create. We want to help Australians achieve financial wellness and being able to lead a purpose-driven model is making real change for millions of Australians, is really exciting for me. We’re building something unique and innovative, not just in Australia, but on a global scale – and it’s amazing to see the progress we’re making towards that goal.

How do you measure success?
Helping millions of Australians to pay down and get out of debt is what drives our company, it’s at the very heart of our business model. So, creating products and tools that really make an impact on the financial wellbeing of Australians and seeing those results, is definitely a measure of success for me.

Success is also reflected in the team culture and satisfaction. We have built and nurtured one of the most incredibly talented teams and with an NPS score of 76, that’s certainly a measure of success for me. 

If we can deliver a material differentiated offering into the Australian market, and consumers understand that and lean into it, then the economic benefits will take care of themselves for shareholders and staff.

What do you think is the most important quality of being a CEO of a listed company?
It doesn’t matter whether your company is listed or not, you need to have a clear purpose that everyone can align to, and as a CEO, you need to lead by example. At Wisr, for every stakeholder – employee, customer, or shareholder, it’s my responsibility as CEO to ensure people understand and connect with the purpose and vision of our business.

What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
Wisr has spent years building something truly different in consumer finance in Australia.  But we’re just at the beginning, having captured less than 0.3% market share to date of the circa $120B consumer finance sector in Australia. 

With pivotal events taking place for the company in the last 6 months ($36M of capital raised, and a pivot in our revenue model), the next 2-3 years we plan to see Wisr deliver exceptional growth and returns for its shareholders.

We continue to maintain high credit standards while growing our customer base during COVID-19, and the team remains energised and committed to strive for ongoing success throughout the remainder of the year and beyond.

We are well placed to continue lending, operations and growth of its financial wellness products through COVID-19 disruption and post recovery.

The opportunity for Wisr to build something of real size, scale and meaning is significant, and potential shareholders should be excited by that.

How can people connect with you?

Want to be on the list next time this company raises capital? Open an account with Fresh Equities and start exploring capital raises –

Photo Of The Wisr Team

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