Member Business Lending believes that credit unions can expand their capacity to serve their members by supporting local businesses in their communities. In an effort to assist the credit union industry in this capacity, Member Business Lending hosted a symposium, bringing together industry leaders and small business owners to aid credit unions in their efforts to “Help Businesses Help People”. The 2018 MBL Symposium was held at the MGM Grand Convention Center on April 23 – 25 in Las Vegas, NV.
Don Arkell, a Senior Consultant at CU Lending Advice, focused on the need for credit unions to diversify their loan portfolio with business lending. He highlighted the tangible and intangible benefits of business lending and presented the historic case for credit unions to grow in this vertical. He discussed the many lending disruptors that are impacting the industry, and presented the argument that “Now, more than ever before, [credit unions] should explore good loan diversification.”
A credit union’ s primary objective is to serve the needs of its members, rather than to make a profit for its shareholders. The result is in stark contrast to the offerings of a typical bank; credit unions can keep loan rates and fees lower, and interest rates on deposits higher.
When business owners find themselves amidst a storm, the financial world may seem like a turbulent sea of confusion. Credit unions can be the “lifebuoy” that keeps them afloat When it comes to obtaining financing, small businesses often struggle to find the resources they need to succeed. Most small business owners turn to banks to obtain those resources. As for-profit institutions, a bank’s primary objective is to generate profits for their shareholders. As a result, small businesses often find themselves paying heavy fees, which can drown a budding small business.
Attendees were given valuable insight into the trials that small businesses face as they heard from a panel of real small business owners, who shared their first-hand experiences. “I felt like I had sold my soul to the devil for $500!” exclaimed Alicia Browning, Owner of Shearology Salon & Spa, as she recounted her experience in transferring her accounts to Chase Bank from her life-long credit union, due to their inability to provide access to the services her business required. “I didn’t even know credit unions offered business services.” Stated Maxine Turner, Founder of Cuisine Unlimited, an international catering company headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT, who also serves on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and chairs the Small Business Council. The panel discussions covered a wide variety of topics including financing strategies, lending activity, relationships and resources, and technology. Other panelists included Steve Down, Founder of Steve Down Companies, and Alan Seegrist, Owner of RainFire Restoration.
There is a largely underserved community of small businesses that make up, in large part, the backbone of our nation’s economy. More and more, these small businesses are turning to their credit unions in search of the business services they need to succeed. “Now more than ever, our members need our help! We must get more involved and provide all of the business services necessary to help businesses help the people in our local communities.” proclaimed Sonya McDonald, EVP, Chief Lending Officer at Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU), as she shared several real-life examples of small businesses RBFCU has help to succeed.
Running a successful business lending and services program is challenging. Understanding the obstacles and knowing what pitfalls to avoid is crucial! It takes education, planning, and teamwork to keep you on course and help your credit union achieve long-term success. The task may seem daunting, but Jeff Rendel, President of Rising Above Enterprises laid it out very clearly, “Small businesses deserve the credit union model. Credit unions can use their locally-owned, low-cost, and high-service strengths to build real competitive achievements in business lending.”
In a panel discussion comprised of some of the most successful business lenders in the credit union industry, panelists discussed how credit unions can more fully engage, and shared their keys to running successful business lending programs. The panel shared insight on various topics including how to cultivate relationships with new businesses and prepare for future MBL growth; how to compete with other financial institutions and overcome the perceptions that credit unions are consumer only institutions; how to determine which products and services to offer, and how are they best administered; and how to protect against disintermediation and maintain relevancy with the expanding fintech market. Joseph Amato, Nevada District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), encouraged credit unions to take advantage of the resources SBA makes available, and actively participate in their [SBA’s] loan programs. Jeff Stringham, Vice President of Business Services at Utah First Credit Union, emphasized the value of SBA loans and described how his credit union is taking advantage of a very active secondary market. Other panelists included Faye Nabhani, EVP, Chief Credit Officer at SAFE Credit Union, Daniel Milbrandt, Business Development Manager at Educators Credit Union, and Shane Knighton, First Vice President of Business Services at Kinecta Federal Credit Union.
Don Clark, President/CEO of Sound Credit Union, was the concluding speaker. In his presentation, Don shared valuable lessons he learned as he successfully developed two of the most effective and successful commercial programs in the credit union industry. His results are proof that credit unions can do it. “Credit unions are successful business lenders in their communities – It’s been done!” he stated. “Do the math! When done correctly, business loans are more profitable. The more our members use the credit union, the more value to the members.”
MBL would like to thank the wonderful sponsors and exhibitors that supported this year’s event. We would also like to express our appreciation to the all the attendees. We hope that you found a desire to more fully engage in offering your business members access to the financial resources they need to successfully manage their businesses. We encourage you to extend your reach to help small businesses in your community and call upon you to become the lifebuoy that supports and sustains them in their efforts to provide for their employees, their communities, and their families. Let us increase our efforts to “Help Businesses Help People | The Credit Union Way”.