A Conversation with Jay Modi About the Finer Points of Financial Technology and Entrepreneurship
Born and raised in London in the United Kingdom, Jay Modi received his early education at the Royal Grammar School of Worcester in Worcestershire. When he was 14 years of age, Jay moved to Canada where he attended Western Canada High School. He then enrolled and began taking classes at the University of Calgary, but mid-way through his freshman year he chose to leave the school in order to work full-time on founding a real estate business.
Since leaving university, Jay Modi has had a diverse and successful career, having explored a number of professions. After his real estate business, he pursued asset management as a vocation for a period of time. He then spent three years in Los Angeles living out a personal dream of founding a film production company. While in Hollywood, Jay was involved in the production of twelve different movies, even earning an executive producer credit on a celebrated project called The Bronx Bull, which is currently available for viewing on Netflix. He then chose to switch coasts, relocating to the Atlantic Northeast. After spending some time working alongside large hedge funds in New York City’s asset management and investment industry, Jay Modi earned his financial technology—or ‘fintech’—bona fides, and he decided to return to Canada and put his newfound skill set to use. He now boasts more than two decades of experience in a variety of sectors of the business world.
Currently, Jay is the owner and operator of a company called Approval Nation, which is a business that provides financing to people who wish to buy vehicles. Based mostly in the digital sphere, Approval Nation is highly acclaimed for its innovative, 21st century approach to lending.
Why did you decide to go into financial technology?
I saw that the world was changing and, even though the internet has been around since the early 1990s, there was still a lot more growth to come. The internet seemed like the ideal platform to connect the world and help people gain access to information, both pertaining to business and in their own personal lives, and I felt that it should be adopted by the financial industry. I figured financial technology would help people better understand their financial lives, as well as provide them with access to financial products online. As everyone knows, finance isn’t something that’s usually taught in schools. But in this day and age, when everyone’s on the internet, ordinary people without formal training can access the tools that they need to be successful in a financial capacity.
What trends in your industry excite you?
I think that artificial intelligence is here to stay. Online banking and access to apps is exciting, too—especially online lending, because it allows a person to apply for loans online. It’s much more time-efficient than the traditional way of applying for a loan because you don’t have to make an appointment with anyone or even leave the house. So, the trends I’m excited about in financial technology all have to do with providing greater access to financial products.
What would you tell others looking to get into your industry?
First, determine what part of the industry you want to get into and what role you want to play within that space. Then talk to people who are already established in that space and try to really understand how to make yourself fit into it.
What is one thing you would change in your industry today if you could?
I would bring in regulations in some areas and relax regulations in others. Right now, though, things are on a good path in that respect. The growth rate is good, the products that are coming out are good, and fintech is doing pretty well overall.
How has financial technology changed over the last decade?
Companies have been adapting to produce more online services. I think a lot of people were afraid of the concept of conducting their financial affairs online a decade ago, but now trust has been established. You can input your data online and there are a lot more security policies in place than there once were. Companies are adhering to data breach policies and making sure they have the proper protections, and as a result, the average consumer feels much more comfortable banking and investing digitally.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My father, Rasik Modi, has been a great role model to me. He has a very family-oriented attitude, and I’ve learned a lot from him—everything from the way he manages finances and to his overarching approach to life. He’s an entrepreneur, as well, so he’s taught me a lot about business.
How do you maintain a work life balance?
As an entrepreneur, sometimes your business will take up most of your attention. It’s important to know when to take a break if you feel yourself burning out or if you’re overworking yourself, even if it’s just getting up from the computer and going for a quick walk. I go to the gym and spend time with friends and family, but one of the most important aspects of maintaining a good work life balance is managing time and mental fatigue. Delegating tasks to other people helps with this issue. It also pays to take a look at your life structure and implement policies and routines that give you a little bit of a break on a daily basis.
What is one piece of advice you would like to leave our readers with?
Never give up. Make sure that the reason for what you’re doing to be successful is the right reason. Don’t do it because you’re trying to get revenge or make someone jealous because that won’t motivate you for long. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, no matter how crazy your dreams are, anything is possible.
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