Ann Kaplan at Stevie Awards
Las Vegas resident Ann Kaplan is the founder of iFinance, a consumer finance company that Kaplan built from a startup to the success it is today. Kaplan won the 2022 Gold Stevie International Award for Woman of the Year, Finance on November 11. Kaplan's achievements are well-diversified as she is also a former Real Housewives of Toronto television star, an author and maintains her entrepreneurial endeavors while prioritizing her family, the present moment and honoring her truest desires.
Kaplan is no novice to taking home awards and gaining recognition for her achievements. She also won the 2015 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Peak Award of Excellence in Finance, the National Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the GTA Award for consecutive growth and has many times been recognized as one of the top 100 women in Canada.
Ann Kaplan with editor Danica Serena Stockton
I caught up with the impressive goal getter to learn more about her success story and how she manages to achieve excellence time and time again throughout her eventful and long-standing journey within the finance and entertainment spaces. How does Kaplan do it all while honoring her personal life, happiness and health? Read on to find out.
Q: You have such ample and varied achievements. How do you make time for it all?
A: I don't watch TV, which is really odd. I am up early every morning…When I get up in the morning, right away I do all the things that need to be done. I don’t procrastinate.
I am very focused on everything I'm doing. When I’m at work, I'm focused only on work. When I’m with my kids, I’m in the moment with them. I am always working and when I am not working I am present with whoever or whatever is in front of me.
Ann Kaplan business woman to watch
I have a hard focus on achieving my dreams. As human beings we get in our own way; we think [our goals are] unachievable. When you take that first step, you begin to be recognized as someone in your field that's credible.
After a while you realize you just need to get your toe in the door with hard work, focus and learning. Every moment is a learning experience.
Q: What is your perspective on awards and receiving recognition?
A: One time someone told me awards aren't important. When you are standing there and you are holding something it is a moment to be [recognized]. It brings tears to my eyes to watch [others] achieve something. That moment is their moment when they win. You see the joy in their eyes.
An array of trophies and medals
It's not so much about winning; it's about being happy. You have to do things that the outcome is happiness. Be around people that are happy.
You have to get the mindset that you are happy. It's a way of living. In my world, I'm not different anywhere I go; I am always smiling and calm.
Q: What qualities about yourself do you think contribute to the ample recognition you gain like with the Stevie Awards?
A: There's not a lot of women that achieve finance awards. To be a woman in finance, to achieve a national level of being a CEO running a finance company is unusual. To move into the fintech space and write algorithms is unusual for males or females.
Lending and trading assessment finance chart
I believe I was presented to the judges in the way that is not just as a woman but a woman in the finance world [who is] very current in the fintech space. That I believe would stand out to the judges.
Q: Can you share more about the beginning stages of building your company?
A: I started out as a single mom with two kids. I was very afraid for people to find out that I was a single mom. We went through $2 billion in business loan applications. It became a very large company.
It is difficult to start a company…to build a business as a single mom with two kids. At some point I realized that whoever I am, a married woman, having no kids, having tons of kids, it doesn't matter so much as the business.
I never pulled the sympathy of being a single woman or being a minority card. I just worked really hard and well at what I was capable of doing. I recognize talented people to work with and in the beginning I had a team of 10 employees that were very talented.
It's no one's business, my personal life. I'm very protective of it [but] I don't need to hide it either. My sister passed away and she left me her children. We had eight children at one point.
It became that people were more interested in the fact that I had so many children. It should be about what I'm doing in finance, not so much the fact that I'm juggling all of this but you can do it, anyone can do it.
Ann Kaplan speaks on her efforts to pursue her goals.
I think we get in our own way and we don't aim high enough. If you look out at the world and remove the barriers there is nothing you can't do.
There are people that I admire that balance it all…look at Jennifer Lopez. She's a singer, dancer, actress, model and business woman. She didn't just become one of those, she just said I'm going to do all of this….she doesn't put limits on herself.
Q: You really live life to the fullest. Can you share what that looks like in your current lifestyle?
A: People get to a stage in life where they envision [their future beyond] their careers to live on a golf course or retire somewhere. The children thought we would be home watching game shows on the couch waiting for them to call. They didn't expect that mom and dad are going to have their own life.
The Las Vegas Strip
Once the last one was out [my husband and I] were like, “Bye, we are moving to Vegas!” While we are young enough, we want to do what we want to do. Living life the way you want to is my idea of success; not living by someone else's standards or wanting to be something else.
In the last year and half both my husband and I wrote a book. I competed in a competition with five other CEOs to raise money for a kid’s hospital…it was a stand-up comedy competition. I don't know if I would have said yes to stand-up comedy a few years ago.
Q: What drew you to make Las Vegas your new home?
We moved here a year ago when our youngest son went to university. August 17 he went to college and we told him August 18 we are moving to Vegas. We turned our lives upside down.
My husband calls it “unscripted” and we do whatever we want to do. We have our home life and then there is the other side where you walk out the door where you can do anything you want to do.
Las Vegas architecture
Artwork, architecture, design, shopping and all is so over the top everywhere you go [in Vegas]. We have our favorite restaurants here and they know us.
Q: How have you grown personally since the initial stages of your career in finance?
A: It's very exciting, my life; I like to have fun and it's quite colorful. I don't think you need to dress like a banker to be in finance but I didn't start out that way. My wardrobe was black and white [in the beginning of my financial career].
Ann Kaplan dressed with color and confidence
There was some point where something changed in my life and I thought, “It shouldn't matter what I'm wearing. We can be who we want to be.” I don’t know if it was maturity or my comfort in the field I was in or the world changing to accept [atypical appearances] of bankers or finance [persons.] You can be accepted as a professional in finance and not have to be typical.
Photography by: By Barrett Kaplan; pexels.com/Josiah Matthew; unsplash.com/Kanchanara; pixabay.com/pexels; unsplash.com/Stephen Leonardi; unsplash.com/MARIOLA GROBELSKA