A serial entrepreneur and digital banking executive with three decades of experience, Steve Schnall is revolutionizing traditional retail banking. During the 2008-2010 global credit crisis, he purchased a small failing bank, which he ultimately transformed into Quontic—an adaptive digital bank with 250 employees that is disrupting the age-old brick-and-mortar retail banking industry. Among the rare 2% of mission-oriented Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), Quontic strives to make homeownership possible for underbanked and low-income families, specifically small business owners, immigrants, and gig economy workers who have difficulty obtaining home loans conventionally. With innovative deposit products, like Bitcoin Rewards Checking—the first of its kind—Cash-Back Checking, and high-Interest Savings and Checking accounts with rates that dwarf those of traditional banks, Quontic was named a Top Online Bank of 2020 by Bankrate and listed as one of Inc. 5000’s Fastest-Growing Companies in America.
Quontic’s growing success as a digital bank enables it to bring in retail deposits from across the U.S. and then use those funds to actually do good. Quontic’s mission is to “break the mold for financial freedom”. “While most banks prefer to lend to the wealthy, our mission is to lend to low-income people and in low-income communities, so we do whatever we need to do to make sure that at least 60-70% of the loans we make are to these target markets,” says Steve. And, despite that Quontic serves the underserved, it does so safely and has experienced virtually no losses on its residential mortgage lending strategy since inception 11 years ago. In recognition of his success, work ethic, and sincere desire to help others, he was named UF’s Distinguished Alumni Entrepreneur in 2017 and Quontic was ranked among the Top Mortgage Employers by National Mortgage Professionals in 2020.
Steve was inspired to create Quontic after the 2008-2010 credit crisis when he discovered that many people who had previously been eligible for financing were being left out. “One of my core competencies is mortgage lending, and I saw an opportunity to bring that skillset into banking at a time when it was difficult to get a home loan. I wanted to help people who were underserved and build a profitable and safe business at the same time,” he says. Consequently, Quontic was founded upon the idea of tailoring products and services to the individual and unique circumstances that exist in its customers’ lives. “Many of the people who come to us for home loans don’t have easily documented income because of the nature of the work they do—like freelancers and gig workers,” Steve explains. “That’s why we look at credit history, ability to repay, money in the bank, and other family resources, while most other banks just want to see two years of steady income.”
Quontic projects that it will make $2 billion in mortgage loans this year with roughly two-thirds of them dedicated to low-income customers or those in low-income census tracts. Since a low-income household does not always mean low wealth, the bank has loan products to meet most borrower circumstances. For low-income, low-wealth borrowers who meet traditional documentation guidelines, Quontic offers products like FHA loans which requires modest credit and only 3.5% down. “Sometimes, we can even help them obtain a grant for closing costs,” Steve adds. “For those who so have low income but can demonstrate other favorable qualification criteria, we have our Community Development Loan products which provide traditional income documentation relief,” Steve adds. “Also, as a CDFI, we’re exempt from the regulation that requires us to underwrite income documentation the traditional way, so we can exercise a lot more flexibility when issuing loans. In short, we can adapt to the borrower’s unique circumstances and view their application in totality, rather than just by calculating a debt-to-income ratio from their tax returns.” Non-traditional loans have become one of Quontic’s specialties.
As Quontic’s founder and CEO, Steve is responsible for driving financial performance and regulatory compliance—while not stifling growth and innovation—directing the organization’s overall vision and strategy, and fostering a corporate culture where employees can flourish. “The way we build our company culture revolves, in part, around ensuring that all employees have key performance indicators as well as minimum, primary, and visionary metrics to which they are held accountable. Employees then receive financial rewards for each level of metrics they achieve,” he explains. As everyone who has visited Quontic would surely agree, Steve has set a new precedent for creating happy employees and for building profitable businesses that serve a valuable social purpose.
CEO and Founder
New York, NY