The sun has been shining brightly on Sun Finance, a major Baltic fintech that, since its inception in 2017, has issued a total of one and a half billion euros in loans. Even if your banking skills are no bigger than checking your bank account regularly and making payments, you have to agree that’s impressive! The Baltic Times Magazine spoke to Toms Jurjevs, a Founder and CEO at Sun Finance.
How did you get where you are so quickly?
I would say – with the right mindset, team, and determination altogether. If it weren’t for the team, we would not be able to work like a smooth mechanism, if it weren’t for the mindset, we wouldn’t have set such ambitious goals. And determination, of course, did not allow us to stop at the first difficulties.
I suppose the success is even more improbable and also sweet, considering that Sun Finance is a Latvia-based fintech, where the fin sector has been under increased scrutiny. Has that been a factor for you to reckon with? Likewise coming from a relatively small country?
Of course, the notion that we are from such a small country but have managed to acquire a clientele of more than 9 million people across 9 countries is already heart-warming. Especially heart-warming is knowing that this is not it – we are going even further. To be honest, the experience of achieving this much coming from a small country has been an advantage, because we’ve had to work especially hard which makes us impervious and well prepared for any future challenges.
Your company’s success has also been recognized by the UK-based business outlet Financial Times, which for two consecutive years has named Sun Finance among Europe’s fastest-growing companies. What’s more, in 2021, Sun Finance topped the rating of Europe’s fastest-growing financial technology companies. How important for you is that? And what is more important than the recognition?
Being among Europe’s fastest-growing companies and becoming the No. 1 fastest-growing fintech in Europe was a sweet victory for us. To be honest, even before topping the ranking we knew that we are doing very well on an international level, but recognition by the Financial Times outlet gave us extra fuel to do what we do. Of course, it is always very pleasing to be recognised as successful by others, but it is more rewarding to actually spend every day at Sun Finance, to lead this magnificent company and excellent team of professionals and to be about the future that is yet upon us.
In late September, you launched your largest bond issue to date in the amount of 50 million euros. How will you use the money?
We believe that bonds are a great source to fund our needs. We will use the 50 million EUR to further expand the Sun Finance product range and enter into new geographies; in addition, we have used them to refinance the previously issued bonds.
This was the fourth time Sun Finance issued bonds to finance the company’s rapid growth. How were the other three bond issuances used?
Similarly to these – geographical expansion, new product development, refinancing of previous bonds.
Notably, you’ve always managed to substantially increase the issue size. How did you manage to do it?
Sun Finance is booming, our financial results are improving with every quarter, we are experiencing rapid growth geographically and product wise, thereby more and more investors become interested in investing in us, and as a result we are able to increase the issue size.
Latvia’s Signet Bank, which organised the latest bond issuance, has said this about Sun Finance: “The company has managed to create a large base of loyal investors.” Talk about them, please.
Indeed, we are proud of the large number of individuals and legal entities that have chosen to invest in us. They know our company, they are actively following our business, and the majority of them exchange their existing bonds when we release new ones.
No doubt, with the expansion, new markets are on your mind. Which ones are you eyeing? In how many countries does Sun Finance operate now?
Currently we are operating in nine countries, with the latest addition being the Philippines. We are looking to expand our product range and locations in the markets that we are currently working in, for example, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Europe.
You’ve made it on Nasdaq First North market. What needs to be done to make the leap to major European or US exchanges?
Currently we can meet our financing needs with the local market; however, major European or US exchanges are definitely something that we are considering. When the time comes when we need to acquire larger funding for our development, we will steer in that direction.
Considering the rampant expansion, how do you manage to add new workforce and keep it in lockstep with the dizzying growth?
It is not easy to find new members for the team, but when we do, firstly, the glue that makes us stick together is common goals – we all strive for success. Secondly, we are making it hard for them to leave because we take good care of our team. For example, there are many people that have been with us from day one, and I believe that kind of loyalty is worth more than gold.
Did you employ Ukrainians amid the war? Can you talk of your humanitarian effort to help the refugees and the country?
Our offices are international, so Ukrainians are always welcome to apply to work at Sun Finance. But on the more practical side, yes, we’ve been helping Ukrainians every way we can. For example, as part of Latvia’s leading entrepreneur network we donated money and as a result raised more than three million euros. Also, our charity foundation Sofi has been focusing on helping Ukrainian animals. We have sent by far the largest humanitarian aid from Latvia to animal shelters in Ukraine, we’re providing support for refugee animals to ease the process of settling down in a new country and we are also running nation-wide campaigns for Ukrainian support.
Where do you see Sun Finance in 10 years from now?
Honestly, we don’t plan that far ahead. Nowadays planning 10 years ahead is just pointless, because the world changes so fast. There are so many turbulences left and right. We focus on “Now” and how we can grow the business for the next 12 months. We are a lean and agile company – that is our strength, we can adapt to new situations faster than the competition. But that also means that planning too far ahead is just a waste of energy and air we breathe.