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Big Data Helping to Ease Commercial Lending Restrictions

When researching their What’s Your Business Worth, authors Daniel Priestley, Scott Gabehart and Michael Carter discovered that 67 percent of all businesses are under-financed.

This means that two thirds of businesses do not receive sufficient funding that would allow them to expand their business and increase their profits. When a business is underfinanced, the owner lives “hand-to-mouth,” a stressful daily existence. The thought of missing payroll–being incapable of paying workers with families to support–weighs on them. Commercial lending provides the capital to escape the merciless business-acquisition-and-billing treadmill.  

When you begin the commercial lending process with a financial institution, usually entrepreneurs and business owners will find they are asked two questions: What is your credit score, and what is your personal income? These are the same questions that a person applying for a personal loan would be asked as well, and highlights an outdated system that uses an incomplete benchmark process, which is a significant disadvantage for small business owners.

The bank uses your answer to those two questions as its primary way to determine how much capital they are willing to lend to a small business. However, these metrics to do not paint a complete picture of the businesses performance, nor how it is progressing. In order for commercial lenders to make better lending decisions and for the entire process to be fair for small businesses, this old methodology must be updated and take into account more than just the data included in a FICO score.

There is hope – improvement in big data has forced commercial lenders into holistic adaption. Commercial lenders have adopted this process in response to the demands of small business owners, and by incorporating more data and variables into their decision making, they have made lending faster and more efficient. Big data is transparent by nature, and this has benefited both borrowers and lenders. Borrowers have more information than ever and can see the terms other businesses have been able to secure, while lenders have reduced their risk by having a better understanding of the business due to a more complete evaluation process. Loan decision making that better represents the primary shareholders creditworthiness as well as the business valuation is a win for both parties.  

The commercial lending industry could be revolutionized if the banking sector is able to develop a more efficient way to allocate the supply of available funds to the demands and needs of small business owners. First Financial believes that in order for this to happen, there needs to be an updated lending act and data infrastructure for both small and midsize businesses. The amount of capital a business receives should correlate exactly with its value and future potential. The current regulations do not allow for this. They determine the creditworthiness of a business solely on risk and not on other important variables, such as potential. Reformed lending laws are needed in order to streamline and improve the commercial lending business.

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