The past few years have been bright for Sunlight Financial, a financing company providing point-of-sale solutions for solar installations.
Sunlight Financial partners with a network of 350 solar companies and home improvement contractors to help their customers secure financing for solar systems and home improvement projects.Â
â€śWe make it very simple,â€ť says Matt Potere, CEO of Sunlight Financial. â€śThe customer can go from their kitchen table and get credit approval to a full of loan in less than two minutes.â€ť
Often there is no money down and homeowners begin to save money right away on their electricity bills.
Sunlight Financial was formed in 2015 by a team at a private equity firm in New Jersey to provide financing for homeowners choosing to put solar panels on their homes. In 2018, Sunlight raised a $50 million investment from FTV Capital.Â
Today, Sunlight has funded $1.5 billion in loans.
In 2019, the company expanded into financing for home-improvement projects. Many of its solar partners were also doing other contracting business and had customers who needed financing for such work as HVAC replacement or a remodel. Most loans range from $10,000 to $30,000.
â€śWhat we found was that many of our solar installers did other contractor business,â€ť Potere says. â€śThey love our solar products so they asked us to develop similar loans for other business.â€ť
The vast majority of Sunlightâ€™s growth has been with solar. When the business launched four years ago, home solar panel installation was economically viable in about 20 states. Today, homeowners in nearly 40 states are adding solar panels to reduce their reliance on the power grid.Â
â€śOur customers tell us they love the environmental benefits of solar,â€ť Potere says. â€śTheir ultimate buying decision is made with their pocket book.â€ť
Before the business formed, Potere says most homeowners choosing solar were paying cash and waiting nearly eight years to have a return on the investment or leasing the solar panels.Â
â€śWhen we launched, loans for solar were probably less than 10% of the market,â€ť Potere says. â€śToday, the majority of customers going solar are using loans, and thatâ€™s been a big shift in how people go solar.â€ť
Sunlight Financial has grown to 150 employees, mostly in Charlotte, over four years.Â
Solarâ€™s growth has been proven, Potere says, and with Sunlightâ€™s recent foray into home improvement, a market 30 times the size of the solar market, Potere expects Sunlight Financial to continue its rapid pace of growth.
Q&A with Matt Potere, CEO
What brought you to Sunlight Financial?
I spent my whole career in consumer finance. I started at MBNA and helped set up their Canadian office. I spent 12 years with Bank of America, worked with a startup for few years, and then rejoined BofA. Immediately before joining Sunlight, I was home equity products executive at Bank of America. I have been able to bring that skill set to this and build Sunlight.Â
What makes you proud?
We are proud of our growth but also of our focus on our core values. We have built what we believe to be a special company. Our values are to be passionate, honest, fair, genuine and to be scrappy.Â
Are incentives helping solar grow?
There are some federal incentives and state and local incentives as well. That has certainly been helpful as a tailwind for the industry. Solar installer is the fastest-growing job in U.S. and thatâ€™s because of the growing interest. Solar has been growing at 10%-plus compounded annually since 2010. Those incentives have worked well as a stimulus for jobs throughout the country.