Younger and Wisr – The Future of Finance

Meet the man behind a relatively new fintech already writing $1 billion in loans and forging a relationship with Goldman Sachs.

The world of fintechs can be a fickle beast.

In Australia, there’s around 800 fintechs grappling for a foothold in their chosen niche. There’s winners and losers and a lot in between that never really reach their potential.

But under the leadership of CFO Andy Goodwin, purpose-build fintech Wisr is winning friends and influencing people in a way unseen before in Australia.

Mid-last year, Wisr raised a whopping $55 million through the issue of 200 million new shares at 25 cents each as it pushed for a $1 billion loan book.

The placement was undertaken by Goldman Sachs and received demand in excess of the funds. At the same time, Wisr announced a $5 million share purchase plan under which existing shareholders could purchase $30,000 worth of new shares.

Bringing the deal to life marked the first time Wisr had dealt with Goldman Sachs. It was an enviable relationship for a fintech. “The need for capital as a fintech is always strong, and the capital raise underwritten by Goldman Sachs gave us a very strong balance sheet,” Andy says. 

He continued: “It gave us the ability to scale and execute on our growth strategy. We feel very fortunate to be in the position we’re in.”

It’s only just the beginning. He believes that technology will change financial services for the better through genuinely serving customers.

The results achieved by Wisr suggest he’s onto something. In the 4.5 years since inception, Wisr has written an incredible $1 billion in loans.

Andy has positioned the company for continued growth and scalability, with H1FY22 revenue at $26.2 million, up 163 per cent on H1FY21 and Wisr achieving 23 consecutive quarters of loan growth.

He’s been instrumental in the business’s transformation from a peer-to-peer model to its current status as a purpose-led, non-bank lender with multiple funding platforms, backed by NAB and the largest global provider of investment, IFM.

He’s in charge of a small team achieving big things. The immediate finance team is five people.

“I’m conscious of making sure that the work experience for anyone on my team is as positive as possible. I want them to achieve their potential, and I want to make sure we’re creating a psychologically safe work environment.

Here at Wisr, he’s found his niche. He’s a finalist for the Outstanding Fintech Leader of the Year category in this year’s Finnies Awards. He’s up against seven other leaders in the fintech space after judges whittled down more than 290 entries across 20 categories, creating a shortlist of 125 finalists.

His approach to leadership is governed by the premise of leading by example, keeping an equal keel and empowering those around him. He’s described as cool, calm and collected even under pressure, leading the team through phenomenal growth.

Of course, keeping up the momentum will be the next challenge amid predictions of higher interest rates and higher living costs.

“We’ll potentially be exposed to higher funding costs, which may impact us. But as I stand here today, we’re very well placed heading into this rising rate environment. We’ve got various levers in place to manage this, and there’s a range of things we have in place to manage this period,” he says.

The journey so far

Andy comes from a more traditional background in investment banking and private equity, which combines with an entrepreneurial mindset. “I’m passionate about applying these skills to solve problems in the disruptive fintech space, working with great people and constantly learning along the way,” he says.

He followed in his father’s footsteps into a career in finance, admitting his career advisor at school also encouraged him onto this path. On her advice, he fronted up to KPMG in his school uniform in year 12 back in 1999, and was offered an entry-level cadetship role in accounting.

After six years, he boarded a flight to London, working in corporate strategy for Fontenergy, which focuses on low carbon energy for the built environment. A year later, he landed a role with Macquarie Group in the investment banking space looking after utilities, infrastructure and renewables. Two years as partner of Draycap, he was working with institutional asset managers to achieve their objectives by efficiently rebalancing portfolios, liquidate legacy assets and build exposure with the private capital space.

He returned to Australia in 2017, admitting it was ‘time to come home’. He walked straight in as the CFO of Wisr, where he’s been ever since. The appeal for him was the entrepreneurial aspect of the role, being able to influence the trajectory of a fintech.

“I’d had exposure to the fintech space in Europe and saw where it was heading, and it appealed to me. I really wanted to make a difference to a fintech here in Australia,” he says.

Working with entrepreneurial thinkers is a major benefit of working in a startup, he says.

His brother James is the chief marketing officer at Wisr, and the pair work well together, he says. 

“We’ve got quite different skillsets, and we certainly spend more time together that otherwise we wouldn’t. It’s super exciting to be on the journey with your family, who you’ve been on a journey with your whole life. It’s been fantastic,” Andy says.

“What we’ve achieved wouldn’t have been possible without the people we have in the business and the belief that we have as a team. It’s very humbling, to be honest. When you look at how far you’ve come, it’s quite amazing.”

Andy is also the new owner of a chocolate Labrador who admits is a bit of a major life adjustment. “I didn’t realise puppies were so much work. But I’m sure it will get easier.”