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Success Story: Building Credit from the Bottom Up

A Citizens Bank client gets his financial life in order with help from a devoted banker.

Virginia Coffee, Branch Manager of Citizens Bank in Avon, has been working with one special customer since the beginning of her banking career: a young man who desperately wanted to get his financial ducks in a row.

"The first time we met, I pulled his credit score, and it was in the low 500s, which is too low to get a loan," she explains. The client wanted to raise his score but didn't know where to start.

"He was absolutely clueless about finances," Virginia says. Adding to his trouble, he was working for an employer that wasn't that stable or trustworthy, and he constantly worried about being able to cash his paychecks. The client also wanted to move up in his life, get a car, eventually become a homeowner.

Where to start?

He had enough money to do a secured loan, which Virginia explains "is a lending tool generally used for people who want to build credit. They put up their own money and draw a loan off of that money. We did a couple of those, and that helped." She says it takes a good year to start seeing credit turn around, especially when it's quite low, but those secured loans helped the client slowly build his.

Eventually, his credit was strong enough that he wanted to see if he could qualify for a car loan. "So I was able to give him his first car loan," says Virginia. "It was a very proud moment—we stood up, hugged, high-fived, it was awesome. He had worked really hard."

"From then on, whenever he would have any questions around credit or finances, he always comes back to me," she says.

But then tragedy struck. The client lost both of his parents close together, and then his girlfriend. His financial life throughout those periods took a hard fall. "I've stayed in close contact with him throughout those tragedies, to help him stay on track," Virginia says.

At Virginia's urging, her client stayed the course and kept his employment stable, which is a key component for qualification for loans, and helped him get back on track.

Just last week, he sent her a text that said: "I think I'm ready, I want to see what I need to do to buy a house."

Looking back over their 10-year-long relationship, she says, "we've come a long way together. It wasn't just about trusting me—he really put in the work and he's finally to his goal."

Her best advice for anyone in a similar spot? "If you're in a position to work on your financial outlook, it's really important to find a banker you trust, find somebody that has your best interests at heart and you will always have somebody you can turn to, trust, depend on when it comes to your financial life. A banker can educate you and help you with credit, loans, getting a mortgage, investments—find somebody you trust that you can journey with financially and have your back."

To get a head start on your own financial journey, contact one of our Citizens Bank branches to meet a banker who's the right fit for you.

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