Money Lessons from an Immigrant Turned Billion Dollar Lender

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on August 25, 2020

With unemployment and economic uncertainty during the pandemic reaching record highs, there has been a surge in interest, especially among millennials, in new paths to building wealth, including stock trading and “side hustles”. Even before the pandemic, entrepreneurship has consistently been on the rise for Gens Y and Z. Sometimes crises present new opportunities for growth– personally and professionally; and it’s true that many great businesses have been built during the worst economic downturns. Such can be said for Stan Bril. 

After overcoming a series of setbacks early in life that may have discouraged many others from entering the rough waters of entrepreneurship, he then decided to start his lending company, MCG, in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis. More than ten years later, MCG has now lent more than $30 billion dollars to finance small and medium sized businesses. But the lessons Stan learned along the way on his path to financial independence apply just as equally to anyone seeking a plan to build wealth.

Start Young

Stan was just seven years old when he and his parents immigrated to the US from the Soviet Union as part of a refugee resettlement program. During the journey, they spent six months in Italy where Stan watched his father earn money by repairing bicycles while his older siblings washed windshields on street corners. Young Stan spent his days visiting junkyards to find bike parts that would help his father. To this day one of his biggest lessons in money back then that still sticks with him is the value of a hard earned dollar. “It is very easy to spend money but it is not easy to earn it.” Stan recalls from this period of his life.

When Stan got older and settled into Savannah, Georgia with his family, he started a lawn mowing business in high school and hired his school friends to work with him. His first lesson in scaling an enterprise.

Your Biggest Setbacks Have Silver Lining

Stan’s challenges didn’t end once he arrived safely in the United States. After graduating from high school, he earned a scholarship to go play soccer at Brooklyn College for the Metro Stars. Unfortunately, he broke his leg six times on the field which ended his soccer career. It also cost him his scholarship. Nevertheless Stan persisted on to finish his college education with a determination to reinvent himself. He realized then that his future would be in business and that he wanted to become a success.

Years later as an adult, Stan was visiting his doctor when they discovered a rare heart condition that required immediate open heart surgery. The condition was a disease known to have caused sudden cardiac death on the field for other athletes. Had Stan not broken his leg leading to the end of his soccer career, continuing to play could well have ended his life. He learned that sometimes setbacks that can seem career-ending could actually be lifesaving.

After college, Stan moved to Philadelphia where his dad owned a used car lot. It was here that his first adult entrepreneurial venture began. He started using eBay to sell his dad’s automotive inventory online. This kickstarted his journey of learning to be a successful entrepreneur, which may have never happened if it weren’t for the setbacks he experienced in college.

Take Risks

In 2003, Stan decided he was ready for a new challenge. He went into mortgage banking. Working six years as a banker, he experienced firsthand the challenges faced by individuals and small businesses who could not get the same access to capital as large companies and the elite. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, he saw banks pull back on funding for so many small businesses that desperately needed it. That’s when he realized he wanted to put his experience as a successful mortgage banker to work to help fund more people’s American Dream. He began developing the idea of launching a private commercial lending firm that would provide funding to small and medium sized businesses, especially those without access to bank lending. Thus in 2009, MCG was born.

Building a lending company during one of the worst financial crises in generations was one of Stan’s hardest challenges to date. But he realized that the rewards of anything in life are always proportionate to the risk. Taking that risk while investing in himself is what put him into an opportunity to succeed when many others were retreating. “I believe the best investment anyone can make is in themselves.” 

Make Your Money Work

Now after more than ten years building a company that has lent in excess of $30 billion dollars to funding businesses and also manages a fund of more than $400 million with the same mission, Stan realizes that the greatest decisions he made had to do with making financial decisions that would have a long term payoff, even if they were inconvenient in the short term.

One of those lessons he wished he had heeded even sooner was the concept of leverage. “I wish I would have started to leverage my money earlier than when I did.” Leveraging your money to continue growing your wealth through multiple channels rather than just the income that you earn will multiply your income earning power and it will also give you an added layer of financial security if you lose a source of income.

Diversification is also an early lesson that Stan lives by in both his personal and business investments. Watching his parents struggle to earn money growing up instilled in him an instinct to save as much money as possible for rainy days and to invest it long term in a diversified portfolio rather than letting it sit in a bank.

Teaching the Next Generation

Now Stan and his wife have two children of their own, ages 7 and 8. Although they are growing up in a much better position than he was in during childhood, he strives to instill the same values for earning and saving money. For example, when his children want to make a discretionary purchase, it needs to be bought with their own savings. He encourages them to save when they receive money for birthdays and holidays, and avoids paying money for home chores so that they learn to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not for money.

Whether you’re a founder, a working professional or even a student, it’s important to remember that even as technology disrupts finance and the world changes rapidly, many of the most important lessons for building long-term sustainable wealth have not changed no matter what background you come from.

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily Group, encompassing Financial Tech Times, Smartech Daily, Transit Tomorrow, BlockTelegraph, Meditech Today, High Net Worth magazine, Luxury Miami magazine, CEO Official magazine, Luxury LA magazine, and flagship outlet, Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily's team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he was on the editorial staff at and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its "3D printed pizza for astronauts" and is now a military contractor. A prolific investor, he's invested in 50+ early stage startups with 10+ exits through 2023.

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