According to Frank Amantia, president of Mid-Atlantic Financial Partners, a business lending and consultative service CUSO launched in 2003, if the Germantown, Md.-based credit union and CUSO meet their $100 million goal for the year, they will move closer to the top from the middle of the pack.
"We've been through times like these before like in the early 70s, late 80s and early 90s," Amantia said. "We have the ability to respond responsibly to the marketplace. We have many relationships that span, in some cases, decades. When you've been doing this as long as we have, people trust you."
When Amantia was hired in 2003 as vice president of commercial lending, he was charged with developing an internal lending unit and creating a CUSO that would not only serve small business members but farm out resources to other credit unions. Recognizing a shared affinity-a field of membership made up of former IBM employees-MAFCU partnered with $2.1 billion Visions Federal Credit Union to get the subsidiary off the ground. Today, Mid-Atlantic Financial Partners has branched out, providing offerings and consultation for more than a dozen credit unions, Amantia said.
Most of the CUSO's competitors are community banks and small regional financial institutions. Amantia said, so far MAFCU is not competing head-to-head with any of its CU peers as most are not offering business services. The larger regional and national banks, he pointed out, are not threats either.
"The underwriting is so pasteurized and homogenized that they don't provide true competition for us," Amantia said.
The CUSO and MAFCU have a "rolling pipeline" of roughly $107 million in business loans with $65 million in combined participations with its credit union parent. Amantia said many of those participations were construction loans that don't exist anymore. Online banking, merchant services and remote deposit capture are other services offered. Nearly 500 business accounts hold about $12 million in deposits.
Having built a track record, Mid-Atlantic Financial Partners is expanding its lineup of services to more credit unions, Amantia said. Guidance with distressed loans and restructuring debt are among its areas of expertise. With a combined 80 years of business lending experience, the CUSO's staff can also provide auditor and examiner scenarios to ensure that portfolios are compliant, he added.
Mid-Atlantic Financial Partners is also positioned to grow construction loans for those that want to go that route. The NCUA has more restrictions in this lending area on loan-to-hard cost ratios than other loan types, which scares some credit unions off, Amantia observed. The result is a loss of business to competitors.
"We want to avoid those situations where credit unions deny service to a member strictly because there may limitations imposed by NCUA," Amantia said. "The CUSO allows credit unions to engage in prudent and reasonable collaterized lending."
Prior to coming to the credit union, Amantia worked in commercial brokerage and partnered with the Small Business Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture on business lending efforts. In 2001, he said he was awarded the SBA financial services advocate. It just so happened when Mid-Atlantic FCU called on SBA for guidance on a loan, the agency referred Amantia.