Just when you thought that bespoke suits filled by older white males were the status quo in the financial world, here come young and diverse entrepreneurs like Cali Finance Group, Inc. founder and CEO, Issac Hwang –– a rising tour de force in the finance world.
A new generation of individuals and small businesses no longer want the “Wolf of Wall Street” to handle their financial futures. Hwang and his clients are proving that perhaps people also want financial advice from someone who can relate to them and their needs; someone who looks like them.
Just as obsolete technology and fintech are driving change in financial services, so are the rise of young entrepreneurs like Hwang providing proof of concept and rebranding an old guard industry.
Not only are the leaders changing, so are their priorities.
America is failing at financial literacy
Mounting research demonstrates “that a majority of individuals do not possess the financial expertise needed to make healthy financial choices that will benefit them in the long run,” according to the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC).
Just how bad is America failing at financial literacy? “Overall, people want to make good financial decisions that set them up for success both today and in the future, but most never had the opportunity to learn how to do it. Case in point: two-thirds of American adults can’t pass a basic financial literacy test,” Forbes reports.
“A new generation of individuals and small businesses no longer want the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ to handle their financial futures.”
Issac Hwang realized the need to for his California-based finance company as he steadily became aware of the general population’s lack of financial guidance. A growing concern for entrepreneurs and organizations who advocate financial health.
“Most people did not know where to start in terms of finance and I was no exception prior to the creation of Cali Finance Group. The most accessible source of ‘financial advice’ they encountered were from accountants,” Hwang says.
“Unfortunately, most accountants did not necessarily elaborate on financial questions for clients because they believe that their sole responsibility was to ‘report’ taxes rather than to ‘explain’ financial questionnaires.”
|Company||Cali Finance Group, Inc.|
|Location||City of Industry, CA|
|Year of Establishment||2016|
|No. of Employees||1 – 5|
Meanwhile, many small business owners leave their financial futures in the hands of their accountants or bankers. Hwang observed this trend and realized the negative fallout from reliance on institutions and professionals with varied interests.
“Accountants were not helpful for clients trying to figure out how to overcome financial dilemmas such as debt. Employees at banks and financial advisers align more to the role of a salesman because their main objective is to sell products rather than a service.”
The 24-year-old entrepreneur started Cali Finance Group in 2016 to help guide clients to make sound financial decisions. His financial services company offers a variety of loans, debt resolution programs, consultations, and other financial services for individuals and businesses alike.
What makes Cali Finance Group unique is their services for individuals and businesses with challenged credit scores, sub-par documents, and other challenged factors that traditional financial institutions would generally deny.
“I believe that it is one of few finance companies that truly cater to the need of the general populace because our main focus is providing our financial services to those who need it most. Our holistic and service-based approach to financial dilemmas leaves our client’s to truly understand their financial situations and decisions,” Hwang adds.
Young entrepreneurs like Issac Hwang are well-positioned to promote financial wellness at the time in people’s lives when they need it most. He has chosen to be part of the solution.
Measuring real impact by numbers and lives changed
While many financial services companies measure their impact by the numbers, Hwang takes a more human approach. “I believe that the biggest success story of any entrepreneur is when your own clients find value in your products and services. The fact that I am able to provide services that help clients overcome financial hurdles is truly worthwhile in every measurement,” Hwang told YFS Magazine.
His numbers speak for themselves. Cali Finance was able to help their clients overcome $2 million dollars in credit card debt alone this year, according to company reports. They also helped numerous small businesses become more profitable by giving them access to affordable business consultations.
“Unlike other finance companies, Cali Finance Group caters not only to the wealthy but also to those who truly need financial guidance,” he added.
His success to-date is inextricably woven into the success of his clients and his friends, family, and private investors who invested in the company while it was merely an idea. Hwang raised funds to cover $50,000 in startup costs. By the end of 2018, he repaid their investments.
Starting from scratch in a $1.45 trillion dollar industry
Starting a finance company from scratch in a $1.45 trillion dollar industry at 21-years-old is not an easy challenge to surmount. At 24, Hwang recalls a time where there was a lot of support from friends and family, but discouragement from peers as well.
Along with the emotional onslaught brought on by doubters, future clients were skeptical about his ability to deliver suitable services. A hurdle many young entrepreneurs face in the financial services market. The industry at large is generally portrayed to be run by professionals in their mid 40-50’s wearing a suit and tie.
“Your appearance and body language speak before you even say a word,” said Tish Gray, a wealth planning adviser with Sagemark Consulting, a division of Lincoln Financial Advisors. “In the first 30 seconds, someone has already made assumptions about who you are through their lens of perception.” Because of these preconceptions, entrepreneurs like Hwang are challenged to overcome any latent bias.
However, “with continuous perseverance and time, clients learned that I was as knowledgeable in finance as any seasoned professional in the industry,” he recalls.
Becoming your own greatest asset
The challenge for every entrepreneur is learning a variety of new skill sets. Hwang approached this challenge head-on. “With limited funds and uncertainties, an entrepreneur has to be a useful instrument in the development of the company. Hence, I had to dedicate myself in learning as many ‘skills’ to strengthen my vulnerabilities and become an asset to my company.”
Nevertheless, he has learned to embrace the hurdles of entrepreneurship. “The need to continuously generate positive returns was also an obstacle. Nevertheless, I learned to enjoy these hurdles and to be grateful for the opportunities for improvement. As we all know, all successful entrepreneurs had their fair share of hardships.”
“Nobody can replicate the motivation and enthusiasm you have for your own company… You have to constantly reflect and improve on all aspects of yourself.”
What is Issac’s advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs like himself? “You need to be the greatest asset.”
“Nobody can replicate the motivation and enthusiasm you have for your own company… You have to constantly reflect and improve on all aspects of yourself. Always be ready to criticize yourself when others do not and be aware that there is never an end to learning and improving. Most importantly, never lose the motivation and aspiration you had when you first started.”