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A Quick Introduction

July 10, 2024

The who, what, and why: Host Shawn Budde drops in to introduce himself and the purpose of the Ensemblex Exchange Podcast.

Hosted by: Shawn Budde

Produced by: Meagan LeBlanc

Theme Music by: Brad Frank


Hello, I’m Shawn Budde, co-founder of Ensemblex. I’d like to introduce to you The Ensemblex Exchange Podcast. It’s a bit of a mouthful. 

When the team first approached me about recording a podcast, I was hesitant. There are a LOT of podcasts. However, there aren’t so many about fintech. And even fewer that talk about being a lender from the inside. Having worked with dozens of lenders and leaders around the world, we wanted to introduce you to the most interesting people we’ve met, tell their stories and learn their lessons. 

But first, I want to tell you my story and the story of Ensemblex.

I started in financial services nearly 40 years ago. I started my career in credit risk and fraud at Citibank. At the time I was very fortunate because I had a computer with two floppy drives, so I didn’t have to swap out the Lotus 123 disk when I wanted to save a file. Let me tell you, I was completely blown away when I got my first machine with a 10 MB hard disk.

I’ve been in the industry ever since. I’ve seen a lot of change, and after roles at Citibank and KeyCorp, I spent eight years at Capital One where I got to experience managing a very large P&L - $1 billion in annual profit (after tax!) - and managing the whole lifecycle of a loan, from marketing to recoveries. 

In 2010, I co-founded, a pioneer of AI in consumer lending. We didn’t call ourselves fintech - I’m not sure the term existed yet. And we didn’t call our technique AI, we called it “google math.”, and its use of machine learning models to underwrite loans, helped usher in the current era, where tech has driven incredible growth and improvement in financial services. And just about everything claims to be powered by AI.

I learned a lot about making the transition from large companies - where you learn a lot of discipline - good and bad - to a startup where you have to be much more pragmatic. In 2019, Mike Armstrong and I founded Ensemblex to bring our experience from those two worlds together to, as we like to say, help lenders make new mistakes. 

At Ensemblex, we’re operators who consult and we do three things very well. We help launch fintech products and businesses. We advise fintechs on five continents to navigate credit risk, improve their economics and build a strong credit culture. And, leveraging our decades of experience, we build the best, most stable AI models for underwriting.

One of the privileges of that work is the exposure we get to so many different products, markets, and passionate people. And yet, I’m often struck by how much remains constant. The fundamental challenges of the industry, the principles of good leadership and the foundations of good credit businesses stay the same.

The Ensemblex Exchange Podcast will bring you the best of both worlds. We’ll discuss the new and the exciting changes: emerging markets, new tools and platforms, AI-powered by actual AI… but we’ll always stay grounded. And we’ll discuss the constants, with leaders sharing their knowledge and expertise. Some of them are scrappy start-up founders, some from the biggest global banks and investment firms. What they have in common is real, practical wisdom to share - what works and what doesn’t - and a few good stories, too. 

In short: The Ensemblex Exchange Podcast is a forum for anyone who’s ‘on the ground’ in fintech and credit. I want to be clear that we are not doing paid promotions or placements. We are engaging with guests purely because we think they have interesting insights to share and stories to tell. 

We’ll get smarter and more inspired together. I hope you’ll join us. 

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