Don't count out the credit invisibles

Date: April 16, 2021

Colleagues:

There is a long overdue and intense focus on addressing societal contributions to the racial wealth gap as well as a global effort to help consumers successfully emerge from COVID-19-related financial challenges. Indeed, the new administration and regulatory leadership has made fair lending concerns a top priority. These trends mean that financial institutions will be expected to demonstrate how they are impacting consumer outcomes positively.

Relatedly, we often see in articles and presentations a statistic that 50 million consumers are “unscorable.” This statistic likely has been derived from the often-quoted 2015 study conducted by the CFPB. What usually is overlooked, however, is the statement included in the CFPB report that: “[t]he new version of the VantageScore, version 3.0, uses alternative data when it is available on a credit record to expand the number of consumers whose records can be scored (VantageScore, 2013).” [1] That now five-year-old CFPB study was based on a FICO model which underscores the fundamental differences in our modeling methodologies and results between the two brands.

In other words, there indeed are 50 million unscorables when lenders use outdated, legacy models that exclude millions of borrowers, including those who have historically been marginalized, such as minority consumers. With VantageScore, lenders can change that paradigm.

VantageScore 4.0 scores millions more consumers with accuracy in a safe and sound manner. At the bottom of my note, you'll find a table that details the 40 million more consumers who are ignored by legacy credit scoring models but are scorable with modern versions of VantageScore. Please note that the data is based on 2018 Census data which is the most recent Census data available.

And now the issue goes well beyond credit invisibles.

VantageScore is a solution that lenders can use RIGHT NOW to help expand their credit box and, at the same time, promote financial inclusion. We recently produced a fact sheet that explains this unique feature of our model, including the percentage of additional consumers VantageScore can score in each state when compared with legacy models.

We also have produced a 30-second video that promotes these messages. The video is available on our YouTube Channel and will be aired at various venues, including this week's Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo; at which, I introduced the Honorable Mark Calabria, current director of the FHFA.

While we’ve leaned into this issue since our inception in 2006, we are incredible hopeful that the “mainstreaming” of this important issue remains a top priority. We must move beyond legacy thinking and legacy systems to create better opportunities for underserved communities. Let’s not waste a single second!

On that same note, as an ode to Financial Capability Month, please be sure to read the articles in this newsletter that prioritize financial health, as shared in the latest episodes of The Game Plan, The VantageScore Podcast as well as our “Did you know?” article on medical debt and our “5 Questions” feature with financial expert Yanely Espinal. Also check out the latest TransUnion global study on credit payment behaviors.

Regards,

Barrett Burns

A demographic breakdown of the 40 million more potential customers who are newly scorable thanks to VantageScore 3.0 and 4.0.

2018 Newly Scoreable

2018 Newly Scoreable 620 and above

Total

40 million

10.06 million

Black and Hispanic

12.2 million

2.4 million

Asian/Pacific Islander

1.6 million

<1 million

White

25.7 million

7 million

Native American

335,000

66,000