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SAN DIMAS, Calif. – WesCorp, in conjunction with the L.A. district office of the Small Business Administration and Counter Intelligence Associates, is answering the call from its members to help them in the member business lending arena through a first of its kind MBL training program for the credit union industry. The nation’s largest corporate at $18.6 billion is offering a comprehensive MBL training program that includes seven eight hour sessions held at WesCorp. Thirteen credit unions are participating in this first go around. It’s dubbed the “WesCorp/SBA Member Business Lending Program.” WesCorp is working closely with the L.A. district office of the SBA, including using the SBA’s credit model in its training. The SBA is also facilitating three of the four sessions. “We’ve gotten together with 13 of our members to assist them in expediting their MBL programs in their institutions. We’re not trying to create loan officers; what we are doing is creating the person at the credit union who can properly respond to a member’s request for a business loan; pre-qualify that loan and hand the application to a third-party service provider or underwriter,” said Marty Lawson, director of member credit services for WesCorp. Lawson said CUs do not need to have business lending experts on staff to get into MBLs. WesCorp is working with four vendors – including Counter Intelligence Associates and the MBL CUSO of Telesis Community CU, and two individuals – who can do the underwriting and other back-office work associated with business loans if the CU so chooses. Lawson said this program is a good first step into MBLs that has been missing in the industry. “All other processes they’ve been presented with say `you don’t dabble, you do it or don’t do it.’ No one has presented them with a program to take one step at a time,” said Lawson. “One thing important to note is this is not just about being able to respond to a member looking for a business loan. It addresses the whole marketing and sale of MBL. This would allow credit unions to actively go out and solicit these types of loans,” said WesCorp President/CEO Todd Lane. There are about 30 CU people at each session, though not always the same people. Lawson noted that CUs send different employees based on the topic. Attendees have also had the benefit of guest speakers renowned for business lending, such as Telesis Community CU President/CEO Grace Mayo and leaders from Arrowhead CU, a pioneer in MBLs. Mike Hales, director of member business services for CIA, is using his 25 years of banking experience to help CUs get into business services. CIA has two third-parties it can pass applications on to for processing, St. George Integrated Financial Solutions (a firm he started) and Caliber Commercial Corporation. St. George is out West and Caliber is on the East Coast. Hales said that is necessary so CUs don’t run into three hour time delays because of where they are located. Right now the third-party arrangement is key for CUs said Hales. Most CUs have to pass on apps to a third-party to satisfy NCUA’s rule 723 which requires that a CU have 24 months experience in commercial lending or outsource it to someone who does. While third-party arrangements are good, he said the mistake CUs can’t make is relying solely on them for MBLs. “Commercial banks are so vulnerable because they started to centralize the process. Bank of America, Fleet, Amsouth, Bank of New York, Wells Fargo had the best commercial training programs that have gone away. There’s a chronic shortage of good commercial loan officers,” said Hales. Hales, who himself is a former community bank president, said he’s finding it hard to sleep at night because he’s so excited about coming into an industry that is just cracking the surface of serving businesses. He said CUs should concentrate on building their internal business lending expertise to get the jump on community banks, many of which take three to four weeks to approve a business loan. The WesCorp program is not just focusing on MBLs. There is a session on other business services, which are the services Hales said CUs can make money on. “It’s pretty hard to make a profitable commercial loan today with rates being as depressed and cost of funds being as high. There’s a tremendous opportunity to make money on deposit relationships with businesses,” said Hales. Credit unions need business services such as cash management, lock box, employee benefits, property and casualty insurance, 401Ks, and others, said Hales. Other corporates are also looking to help members with business lending, including Northwest Corporate CU, which has formed a business lending CUSO, as well as FirstCorp which is partnering with the CUSO. Lawson said given the interest in this first round of training, he expects WesCorp will hold a second such course. For its part, CIA said it is partnering with CUES to offer a 100 hour business lending course starting this October, and to be held at Stanford FCU. [email protected]

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