Co-Founder & CEO
Industry: Automotive Financial Services
In the mid-2000s, Nancy Fitzgerald and her husband, Patrick, owned a used car dealership in Denver. Day after day, they met individuals unfamiliar with the car-buying process, uncomfortable discussing money, uneducated about loan terms and or all of the above.
“We quickly identified an intense desire and need for the average, working American, which was access to reliable transportation at an affordable price,” said Fitzgerald.
In an effort to meet this need, the couple founded Fleet Financial in 2006. “We initially specialized in helping individuals purchase their company cars, but after the financial crisis of 2008-2009, we shifted our focus to the refinancing side of the business, where there was a greater need in the community,” said Fitzgerald.
Sadly, when her husband was killed by a distracted driver in 2014, Fitzgerald’s life was turned upside down. She not only lost her husband and business partner, but also the father of her children, her soulmate and her best friend.
“I simply recall looking out at the floor full of employees and realizing that each and every one of them depended on me for their livelihood,” she said. “I had 150 people who needed me to step up to the plate, take care of them, set an example of strength for my children and uphold Patrick’s legacy.”
Two short years later, Fitzgerald rebranded Fleet Financial to iLendingDIRECT , took its helm as CEO, and by 2018, had enabled a 30% YoY revenue growth She aggressively sought new affiliate business partnerships using creative solutions to sourcing additional leads through channels that her competitors had never considered or dared to chase.
As a result, iLendingDIRECT has a well-earned reputation as a lending innovator in the consumer finance space. In addition to automotive refinancing, under Fitzgerald’s leadership, the company now offers alternative lending options for consumers with near- or non-prime credit scores and the ability to refinance student loans.
“When someone is struggling with one aspect of their finances, like a high-interest auto loan, they’re probably struggling with all or most of their other finances as well,” said Fitzgerald. “We want iLendingDIRECT to be a trusted and comprehensive resource for consumers looking to learn and improve their financial health.”
According to her staff, Fitzgerald has a high-energy, assertive and out-of-the-box way of thinking that requires her executive team to put their best foot forward every day, working toward the company goals. Her success has led to a variety of honors, such as the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business for 2020.
Fitzgerald said she plans to remain influential by giving back to the community and mentoring women in business.
For her incredible perseverance, passion and leadership in the automotive financial services industry, Fitzgerald has been named a Titan 100.
Greatest Leadership Lesson Learned:
My husband Patrick and I co-founded iLendingDIRECT, and he was the CEO. He was struck and killed by a distracted driver while cycling home from the office in 2014. When I lost him, I learned my greatest lesson: When you die, they put your shit in a box. Nothing material matters, nothing. All you leave behind is the way that you made people feel and the connection you had with them. When I took over as CEO the day after his funeral, I knew that my responsibility as a leader, to my employees and our customers, is to make a memorable difference in their lives.
You can't buy or bully loyalty, and the loyalty of your team is a direct measure of your business's success. This is something that I live by every day as a leader.
Nancy is a is a former Miss Canada, winning the pageant in 1993 and going on to compete in the Miss Universe competition. The pageant was an opportunity to secure a college scholarship, and after her experience performing and traveling, Nancy pursued a career in broadcast journalism. After 10 years working for various networks and even hosting her own TV show, Nancy co-founded Fleet Financial with her husband, Patrick, and began the journey to CEO of iLendingDIRECT that brings us to this nomination.