Suerly – The Founder’s Story

Date

Like most founders, the one question that is sure to pop was the story behind their companies. In this post, I will share with you the pain I have gone through that led to the ideation of Suerly.

I have been in the technology industry for over twelve years and, on many occasions, I witness first-hand on how technology shaped lives and disrupt the status quo. Rewinding back five years, I was getting myself a new car. Before finalising the purchase, like most buyer, I shop around in a few car dealerships hoping to get a dealer that can offer me a bigger bang for my buck. I finally reached a deal with a dealer who agreed to run for all the hire purchase arrangements. Considering that my working schedule was pretty hectic (and some other freebies he threw in with the purchase), his offer sounded like a deal. After inking some initial paperwork and putting in a deposit, the dealer told me that I can drive home a new car in 2 weeks. Overjoyed, I thought to myself, my first new car!

The joy was short-lived. Just a few days after I sign-up, I started receiving calls from unknown numbers asking me to apply for their loans and credit cards. There was also a scam call telling me I was amongst their few lucky winners of a fully paid vacation package bull shit! It didn’t take long for me to figure out how these people got my numbers. I rang up the dealer, planning to give him the worst day of his life! On the other end of the line, he was very apologetic and explained to me that he had submitted the hire purchase application to three different loan agents. He did that to make sure I can get multiple offers to compare and pick. He swore to me he didn’t share my contact information to unrelated parties. Even though still furious, I accepted his explanation and didn’t want to probe further. Unfortunately, the marketing calls didn’t stop there. I continued to receive calls from loan agencies in the months that followed to the point I choose to be ignorant to unknown callers.

fusion with spam calls

The marketing calls weren’t the only nightmares. Bank officers that received my application contacted me too. They wanted to meet me for signing the physical application form and to do “simple” applicant and document verification. Gosh, what about the promise the dealer made that he would run for all the loan arrangements?

Helplessly, I had to agree to meet them since I needed the loan and naively thought it was just some paperwork. After meeting up with the loan officers, they interviewed me on my financial, employment and qualification, not just paperwork. I ended up taking time off from my work commitment to meet them!

If you think the disappointment can finally end, you were wrong! I was stuck with another dilemma…

dilemma

In one hand, since the dealership submitted the hire purchase application to three banks, I would naturally want all offers to come in before deciding which one to accept. But after two weeks, only one offer came in. In another, my work required me to make interstate travels but I had sold my old car for the new one and I cannot have a new car before finalising the hire purchase agreement.

My patience was wearing thin, so I went with the only offer I had. Finally, I scheduled a date with the loan officer to complete the hire purchase offer so the dealership can handover the car to me. Just a few days after I got my new car, another bank contacted me and told me they are offering me a loan. Regardless of what they offer, it was too late. I was still furious with the entire experience and it was unfortunate for the loan officer to call me that day.

The third loan agent never got back to me till this day. I suppose my application it’s still sitting somewhere collecting dust!

I conceived the idea of Suerly after another terrible experience applying for a mortgage. My fiancée and I had our eye set on a property in a suburb near Kuala Lumpur. After much haggling with the property agent, we decided on the purchase by putting up a deposit. The next step was to get a mortgage. The property agent offered me to run for the mortgage but learning from the hire purchase experience I had, I declined his offer. My fiancée and I began our mortgage hunting by visiting popular loan comparison websites and search for mortgages that had the most attractive rates. These websites also advertised as “hassle-free” loan application service providers that we can sign-up to. Their services tempted me at first, then I came across a line in the privacy policy statement that reads:

“You agree that we shall be entitled to advise you via email, post, telephone or by text of products, services and other offers we think may interest you.”

Thanks, but no thanks. I thought to myself: I have had enough people selling me stuffs that “they think” might interest me, and no, you shall not be entitled to advise me on anything! After reading their reviews on Facebook, I was relieved that I didn’t sign-up. My fiancée and I decided to approach the banks directly.

I started by calling some banks to get more information on rates before deciding which banks we want to apply the mortgage from. Some banks I called to have me wait in line for at least 20 minutes before someone picked up. When asked on the rate, the result mostly came back the same. I have to visit the nearest branch to get an accurate rate. Why? Apparently, branches may have a slight deviation in rate even though they are one bank. So, if you want an unbeatable mortgage deal, go visit every single branch, not just different banks!

making calls on mobile

I did not have the time and capacity to visit all the bank branches. After much deliberation with my fiancée, we decided to apply from 5 banks (3 local and 2 foreign banks) that were the nearest to us. We took two days off from work just for running mortgages. We also had all our documents and the copies prepared before visiting the bank so we can make our submission on the spot.

My fiancée and I prepared 5 copies of identification, salary slips, bank statements, KWSP summary statements, EA form and the property’s sales and purchase agreement.

We scheduled around 90 minutes for the interviews and submission, and another 30minutes for commuting from one bank to another. The service level from one bank to another was quite different. In summary, I can say the foreign banks were more earnest in helping us to complete the application process and clearing all our doubts. But they also took more time to interview us. As for the local banks, their attitude and professionalism were disappointing. It seems to me they just wanted to take our application and get over us quickly.

Before receiving any offers, I still need to deal with the banks’ inquiries through various channels like WhatsApp, phone calls and emails. There was one instance where I had to ask HR to give me a letter explaining why I got the salary for a particular month two weeks earlier than the normal salary date, which falls in the last week on the month. These back and forth “clarification” had somehow affected my productivity.

I received 4 offers from the 5 submissions I made. The entire process took roughly four to five weeks. I finally accepted one offer from a local bank. Even though the rate wasn’t the lowest amongst the four offers I had, their terms seem to suit me better. At least, this offer doesn’t need me to bundle with a credit card, or charges me an exorbitant fee in making early payment, or prohibits me from refinancing the property.

After enduring all the hassle in getting loans, I know we need a better way to do this! Technology has shaped so many aspects of our lives, just like how people apply for jobs then versus now. Before job portals, people had to post their resumes with cover letters to employers. Now, they can rely on job portals to match their resumes with employers. Or perhaps like how one would order takeaway food then versus now. Before food delivery service, people that want takeout food still need to go to the restaurant and queue. Now, you have your favourite restaurants deliver food to you in the comfort of your own home. I can go on and on, but you get the point…

crowded street

Loan is a basic need and it’s essential for a nation’s economic growth. A study published by the Journal of Asia Pacific Business says that “…an increase in commercial bank loans to the private sector has a direct effect on real income”. Thus, getting loans should be easily accessible, not just available.

I know the pain in getting loans didn’t just happen to me. Most people that applied for loans before had endured the same pain. In Malaysia, there were about 7 million consumer loan application a year and if there were a solution that can do away with this pain, it’s solving a problem faced by 7 million people annually, in Malaysia alone. Not just that, it’s helping the society maintain the productivity of 7 million people a year which would otherwise be lost in applying for loans.

Seeing the value in solving these problems, I quit my job and jump into the entrepreneur bandwagon. I know it is an uphill battle to challenge one of the oldest and most conservative industries on the planet, but I am determined!

I have just started and there is still a long way to go. And this is my founder story.

If you want to know more about Suerly and its business model or is interested to embark on this journey together, feel free to drop an email to “company at schemetical dot com”.

More
stories

long queue outside uob branch
Tiang Sin Foo

Understanding Suerly Part 2: Why Suerly?

Paying off a loan can be a life long process and when people apply for one, they would apply from multiple lenders hoping to land the best deal.
But applying for loan is manual and time consuming, and with limited window they have to solve their financial needs, loan applicants don’t have the time to make an exhaustive search.

Read More »
woman-using-smart-phone
Tiang Sin Foo

Understanding Suerly Part 1: What is Suerly?

This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on Understanding Suerly. In this post, I want to focus on some fundamental elements of Suerly. What is the value proposition? And how does it distinguish itself from other products in the market?

Read More »