8 Probing Questions to Ask a Prospective Small Business Lending Partner
Akouba by Velocity Solutions
For many banks, the ability to offer small-business loans efficiently, quickly and compliantly has been more of an aspiration than a reality. The technical, financial and staffing obstacles involved in launching small business loan products have created daunting barriers to entry. And the need for small business credit is greater than ever in our pandemic-ravaged marketplace.
As demand rises sharply, it creates a fertile breeding ground for new Fintechs who claim they can streamline loan processing time, increase profits of even the smallest loans and improve the entire loan experience for banks and their customers.
But how can you distinguish between achievable goals and lip service? You need to ask the right questions to break through the noise and get real, honest answers. As a provider in this space, we spend countless hours researching the competition, talking with banks about their challenges, and continually enhancing our own small-business lending platform. We’re happy to share our top 8 questions to ask a prospective partner when considering a small business lending platform.
- Do you offer a white-labeled borrower website, branded with our bank’s colors, graphics and messaging? It takes many years to establish a well-known brand identity that your customers recognize and trust, particular in our post-recession, post-pandemic environment. For that reason, it is crucial that any prospective loan origination platforms have the capability to incorporate your bank’s branding, corporate color palette and your distinct messaging to create a seamless experience for your customers.
- What is the time it takes for business borrowers to complete and submit a full loan application? (Aim for 20 minutes or less.) Research shows that one of the top complaints of business borrowers is the amount of time it takes to complete an application. Any digital process will certainly be quicker than a manual method, but every step of the application process should be optimized for efficiency, resulting in a fully submitted loan application within 20 minutes or less.
- Is the application process straightforward and intuitive for the borrower and back-office team? We mentioned the importance of an efficient application, but efficiency can only be achieved if your application is clear, intuitive and helps guide the user along the way. Ask a potential vendor how applicants and your back office can track their progress through the application, and whether the system has measures in place to identify and alert the applicant to inaccurate or incomplete entries. It is also important that FAQs are prominently displayed and that users have easy access to support.
- Do you have methods in place to ensure that the borrowers are selecting the right loan product? Your applicants don’t know your products as well as you do, so rather than asking them to select a loan product, a top-tier platform will incorporate an automated, intelligent “rules engine.” This type of technology gathers pertinent information throughout the application process and selects the most appropriate product(s) based on the applicant’s inputs. This streamlines the application for the borrower and saves your staff valuable time and resources.
- Does the system help identify and filter out unqualified applications? Once the borrower starts the application, the rules engine should engage and dynamically collect data points to ensure that the application is meeting your specific product requirements. Further, it should evaluate the data against your credit policy to verify the applicant meets your minimum acceptance criteria. The best loan platforms will identify such issues and prevent the applicant from progressing by redirecting them to a different page, product or contact method.
- How does your system ensure compliance and security? Ask a potential vendor whether their system supports all federal regulations that impact small businesses and lending practices, such as KYC/KYB, AML, ADA/WCAG and others. The best systems will build your credit and risk policy into the platform, so there is no impact to your bank’s risk profile with the regulators. Ask whether the system utilizes 24/7 monitoring to ensure the integrity and safety of your data, whether they are SOC 2 compliant, and whether they undergo regular third-party audits of their infrastructure and systems.
- How does your system ensure quality control and prevent fraud? Advanced loan technology should integrate into numerous background check sources and employ digital fraud detection using AI-powered captchas, two-factor authentication, etc. Disqualifying criteria should immediately disqualify borrowers, such as zip code, signing rights and industry type. The best systems will ensure that any exceptions are identified and shown to you, so your staff doesn’t waste time trying to find them!
- Does the platform provide automated document management? Secure, efficient document management is one of the most critical functions of digital loan technology. Ensure that all documents are securely uploaded in transit and at rest. Here are just a few of the features an advanced platform should offer:
- A centralized document library housing all documents.
- The ability to collect any necessary form at the right time and have it electronically signed.
- Functionality that allows the lender to easily approve, reject or request individual documents with explanatory notes for the borrower.
- Protection of personal information by restricting the viewing of information to only the individual who owns it.
EVP, Product Management & Corporate Development
Velocity Solutions, LLC
Mike is responsible for setting strategic product vision, new product development, business development partnerships, and M&A strategy at Velocity Solutions. He is passionate about collaborating with industry partners to forge innovative new solutions for community financial institutions.