In a Nutshell: Toronto-based Ratehub.ca started in 2010 as a mortgage rate comparison website to help people find the best rates. The company has since expanded to offer comparative, comprehensive information on credit cards, credit scores, investing, bank accounts, and insurance policies. An education-first company, The priority for Ratehub.ca is providing Canadians with the tools and resources to make informed financial decisions. Ratehub.ca fosters an entrepreneurial, dog-friendly culture, and its workforce has nearly doubled in each of the past few years. Its product offerings are also rapidly growing, with the recent launch of insurance quote comparisons, and an upcoming project on turning investment proceeds into mortgage payments.
According to Canadian government statistics, between 1982 and 2010, mortgage debt in Canada grew tenfold between 1982 and 2010, increasing from $99 billion to $994 billion — more than double the amount of consumer debt. Causes of the high debt included an increase in owner-occupied homes and a surge in the market value of those homes. In fact, in the same period, the average market value of a home went from $71,800 to $303,500.
Ratehub.ca established itself on the heels of these alarming statistics, setting out in 2010 on a mission to connect people to the best mortgage rates. The Toronto-based online company provided free tools, such as its popular mortgage calculators, and detailed comparisons of various mortgage types, establishing itself as a leader in mortgage tools and resources.
But the company has also expanded its vision “to connect people to better decision-making with finances — across multiple verticals,” according to Kerri-Lynn McAllister, Chief Marketing Officer for Ratehub.ca. After focusing exclusively on mortgages for the first three or four years, the platform added credit cards, banking, investing, insurance, and credit scores, with comparative and educational tools available in these areas. Today, Ratehub.ca’s resources are relied upon by more than 500,000 monthly users.
“We secured the first position in Canada for mortgage rate comparison sites. We used that authority to launch other verticals,” Kerri-Lynn explained. “Mortgage is still the most popular. We have good traction with credit cards, and deposits are popular.”
Financial Education & Comparison Tools Help Canadians Determine the Best Deals
Education is a cornerstone concept for Ratehub.ca, so it should come as no surprise that the site hosts a variety of educational resources for each type of product it covers. Visitors can find glossaries of important terms and helpful guides on everything from home buying to using credit cards.
“We’re an information-first company, so our primary objective is to provide Canadians with the most detailed and most complete set of information to make decisions,” Kerri-Lynn said. “We also go really deeply into each topic, highlighting the things you need to be best able to compare financial products.”
Credit cards are a great example of how Ratehub.ca researches and analyzes comparative information for its visitors. Credit cards often come with rewards programs, fees, and bonuses, Kerri-Lynn said, some of which may not actually be tied to a specific bank. One example is Air Miles, a loyalty program in which customers earn points on purchases at participating merchants that can be redeemed for flights on participating airlines.
“The value of these points is very unclear,” Kerri-Lynn said. “So we converted everything into a dollar value. Then, we use that as a basis for comparing credit cards.”
Another valuable way visitors use the information is to compare transaction fees for checking accounts, which Kerri-Lynn calls “the most concerning thing,” even above interest rates. While consumers typically focus on interest rates, the rates on checking accounts are usually small enough that fees can quickly cancel them out.
“We sorted everything by fees, and you can input the number of transactions by transaction sites, which is more meaningful than just interest rates,” she said.
Overall, across the verticals, Kerri-Lynn believes, “We provide the most complete, detailed information. People can decide what layer of investigation they want to do: They don’t necessarily need to investigate how we calculated everything.”
For Canadians struggling with credit, Ratehub.ca can be particularly helpful. As part of the educational resources in the credit score vertical, for instance, users can obtain a free credit score and receive an interpretation of that score. They can also find ways to improve their score and build credit, as well as learn how to monitor credit reports, and detect and deal with identity theft.
Ratehub.ca Encourages an Entrepreneurial & Community-Minded Culture
Although now seven years old, Ratehub.ca still has an energetic, start-up culture, said Kerri-Lynn. The company has a young, vibrant team — and even boasts an office dog (Kerri-Lynn’s).
According to one employee: “No two days are ever the same. There’s always something new to learn.” Another employee captured the mission of the company: “I love building products that help Canadians make better financial choices.”
Kerri-Lynn said the company’s entrepreneurial spirit is both internal and external. Internally, she describes an “intra-preneurial” culture: “We give people a lot of freedom and responsibility. People take ownership of verticals,” she said.
Additionally, another important part of the company’s culture is community engagement. “The leadership team is active in giving back to the community in terms of mentorship, conferences, and participating on panels,” Kerri-Lynn said, adding that she herself is a mentor in a panel called Women in Leadership. Ratehub.ca also organizes an annual Canadian Personal Finance Conference, which brings together personal finance bloggers and writers from across Canada.
“We come together and share some of the challenges, like teaching people about investing, financial literacy in schools, and the best ways to save money,” Kerri-Lynn said. “We are involved with the personal finance community as well.”
Upcoming Company Goals Include More Insurance & Mortgage Resources
Ratehub.ca is a quickly expanding company, both in terms of employees as well as projects. “We’ve been doubling every year since we started, so we’re just continuing on that path,” Kerri-Lynn said.
One of its most recent projects is the launch of insurance quotes. By plugging in their basic demographic information, people can get free quotes for life insurance, home insurance, and auto insurance. This information complements other detailed insurance information on the website, such as how auto insurance differs by vehicle type, or the difference between liability and comprehensive auto insurance.
Kerri-Lynn said Ratehub.ca is also getting ready to roll out a project focused on turning some investment income into mortgage payments — as a way to improve the mortgage experience for Canadians. “It’s a very annoying process to go through,” she said. “How do we make it a more enjoyable experience?”