Courtesy of Madi Greg '20

Tina Hay, Founder and CEO of Napkin Finance.

November 14, 2017

Napkin Finance CEO Presents Finance Crash Course

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It may not seem plausible, but a napkin can change a person’s entire world.

That’s what Napkin Finance founder and CEO Tina Hay said on Sunday, arguing that a napkin changed her life and that using napkins can, in 30 seconds, change the world for those who struggle to understand complex financial decisions.

Hay, brought to Cornell by Phi Sigma Sigma, is a Harvard Business School graduate who said she felt compelled to apply what she had learned from earning a film and technology degree at UCLA.

She began sketching and now those sketches form the basis of a multimedia platform. In an interview with The Sun, Hay said the works of famous figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Sigmund Freud had influenced her work.

“DaVinci and Freud used sketches, drawings to derive information about numbers and quantitative data,” Hay said. “I wanted to provide an attractive way of understanding that would allow people to easily absorb financial concepts.”

“The information needed to be snackable and digestible,” Hay said. Seeing Hay’s exploits in the business world, Yasmeen Mahayni ’18, president of Phi Sigma Sigma and Sarah Karkoura ’20, director of marketing at Napkin Finance, thought her experience would help inspire Cornellians interested in finance and even other careers.

During the crash course, Hay stressed that having credit and knowing how to manage it is a long-term strategy, especially for people who have to handle issues such as student loans and car and mortgage payments.

“A student who knows his/her credit score, understands the significance of having a credible and liable financial history — because companies, employers, landlords and governments check this information to make informed decisions about that person,” Hay said.

Hay said the key is to pick a credit card with low annual interest rates, or low APR, to diversify and to not close accounts even if one is not using them, because these lessons may improve one’s credit.

“Financial education is a useful skill for contract workers and employees to consider,” Hay said. “A good financial history shows the ability to pay back on time and a person’s ability to make smart investments.”