Committees : Lending

Giving Small Business Borrowers ’True’ Credit


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Small business owners and entrepreneurs are the engine that fuel the global economy. Lending to small businesses has been the heartbeat of the over 5,500 community banks, and it’s also how many of the nations largest banks have prospered.

Yet the market for these loans has become commoditized—or as highly accomplished venture capitalist Marc Andreessen has said, have been “eaten by software.”Why? Because banks still treat small businesses and entrepreneurs like they are individuals applying for a personal loan and not a commercial entity with real economic value.

The problem is the current business data and credit scoring infrastructure that most banks use to underwrite loans was not made for the entrepreneur. It was made for the consumer and does not acknowledge the value of the actual business itself to the entrepreneur.

When entrepreneurs go to a bank for a loan, they are always asked two questions.

What is their credit score?

What is their current income or salary?

Simple credit scoring and current income verification is not enough as it does not fully value the entrepreneur and the businesses’ capacity.

Seventy percent of a business owner’s net worth is tied up in their business, but few banks look at anything beyond the value of the real estate, their credit score and their current income. Sixty-seven percent of all private companies are funded at levels that are actually less than they should be because the value of the underlying business has historically been overlooked.

This traditional approach to small business lending is out of date. Today, because of technology and an infinite amount of data, business owners can plug in information about their company and match it against similar businesses to find out what their business is worth, and then leverage that data for loans, insurance coverage or other financial planning matters. Banks like Univest Corp., insurance companies like Penn Mutual and credit bureaus like Equifax and Experian are starting to use and offer online databases to measure a business’ value not just for loans, but for financial planning and risk scoring.

If you are bank, take advantage of new advancements in big data and apply them to your actual core business. Focus your efforts on what used to be your bread-and-butter customer—the small business owner. But be aware that today’s entrepreneurs know that the lending process has now become democratized and they are only a browser away from a better deal. Change the game. Go further. Inspire the next great wave in lending by giving entrepreneurs and small business owners true credit.