Nino Fanlo profile picture

Nino Fanlo

CFO and COO, Social Finance, Inc. (SoFi)

What’s the background to the business?
SoFi was founded by four Stanford graduates two years ago. The goal is to bring a community solution to the student loan challenge. We are creating this business as before us it didn’t exist. We believe the $1 trillion US student loan market is broken. SoFi was founded to offer an innovative approach to addressing this problem using the power of social communities to transform the industry. SoFi connects students and alumni through a dedicated lending pool and an original social community approach where students, alumni and schools all benefit.

Over the past 2 years, we have had 2 rounds of financing. We have raised $85M, expanded to 100 schools and refinanced 3,000 people. We focus on refinancing students who have graduated. Our students are high quality borrowers and the biggest risk is that they lose their jobs. Through our in-house recruiter, we have been fortunate to find jobs for more than half.

We also have an Entrepreneur program, which provides up to 6 months of business development deferment for qualified entrepreneurs who are pursuing new business ideas. We offer valuable mentoring, networking opportunities and resources to help our entrepreneurs raise capital and build companies. 2 of our entrepreneurs have had companies bought in their first 6 months.


Business goal for the next 12 month: We would like to generate between $900 million and $1.3 billion of student loans. We would also like to start an acquisition mortgage product for our students. Our average borrower is 31 years old and makes $125K. They are smart people who will go far – they are just young so can’t get a mortgage. We plan to start in the Bay Area and New York and offer a high loan to value – probably as high as 90%.

I strongly believe that private market solutions improve our government options. The strong progress that the country makes through private markets – such as technology, energy, medical research etc. – is the foundation of our country’s success. Government should facilitate this growth, not micro-manage it. The financial crisis has been misread as a call to regulation rather than as a result of regulation and I believe this has hurt our industry.

Advice you wish you had received: To be honest, we have done most things right. If we had to change one thing I think we should have invested more in technology. The incremental technology investment is worthwhile. We have our own proprietary system and our own personnel, which we need to build out in 2014.

Best business decision: We pick great people to work for and with, not great companies. It’s easy to forget that we work for a person, not a company. I have had tremendous bosses and been fortunate to have a number of great people working with me.

Toughest business decision: To let go of the previous business I founded at KKR and move to SoFi. It was tough as I had built it and it was hard to let go.

Person most admired: It would probably be Tim Sloan, CFO of Wells Fargo. I admire how he conducts himself and how he manages his life.

Like most about job: The opportunity to interact with customers who are young, upwardly mobile, hard-working and successful young people.

Like least about job: This will happen next year! We have to find new space for our business in 2014 and I am anticipating that it will be brutal.

Dream job: This is my dream job but if I wasn’t working I’d be in Punta del Este in Uruguay. This area is known worldwide as a scenic resort area with miles of beautiful beaches, luxury hotels and restaurants. You would find me at the beach with my wife and it would take a while for me to get bored.


Birthplace: I was born in Havana, Cuba. I moved to the States in 1961 (I was 1) and we lived in New York. I moved to the Bay Area when I was working with Wells Fargo and married a local girl.

Education: I studied economics at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. I have over 30 years’ experience. I have previously been CEO of KKR Financial (NYSE: KFN) and Executive Vice President and Treasurer of Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC). I was also a Vice President at Goldman Sachs, responsible for the Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities desk.

Favorite book: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I also admire

Jose Maria, a Cuban writer.

Favorite movie: Lawrence of Arabia.

Outside of work: I love to play golf and always enjoy fine wine.

Community: I’ve served on a number of Boards, such as the San Francisco Zoo and Conservatory of Music.

Family: I am blessed with a sophomore at Stanford and a senior at Hotchkiss School, Connecticut. He will attend Vanderbilt next year.