Insights from SBA veteran, Jim Ely: Navigating SBA Lending in a Changing Landscape
Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and access to capital is critical to their success. In this Before You Buy or Sell the Business podcast, Jim Ely, a seasoned SBA lender with over 39 years of experience, shares his insights on the evolution of SBA lending, challenges faced by small community banks, the importance of education and training, the impact of technology on SBA lending, and the role of loan brokers in the SBA lending process.
Evolution of SBA Lending
According to Ely, the SBA lending program has become more complex over the years, with more rules and regulations. He notes that the program has become more competitive, with more lenders entering the market.
“It’s gotten more complex. It’s gotten more rules and regulations, more paperwork, more things to do, more things to check.” – Jim Ely
Despite the challenges, Ely believes that the SBA lending program is still an important source of financing for small businesses.
Challenges Faced by Small Community Banks
Small community banks play a crucial role in the SBA lending program, but they face unique challenges that larger banks do not. According to Ely, small community banks often struggle to keep up with the changing rules and regulations of the SBA lending program. They also have limited staff, which can make it difficult for them to handle the paperwork and administrative tasks involved in SBA lending.
“The small community banks don’t have the resources to keep up with the constant changes.” – Jim Ely
Ely suggests that one way for small community banks to overcome these challenges is to partner with larger banks or non-bank lenders.
“They can partner with larger banks or non-bank lenders to help them with the SBA lending program.” – Jim Ely
Importance of Education and Training
Education and training are essential for anyone working in the SBA lending industry, according to Ely. He notes that the rules and regulations of the SBA lending program are constantly changing, and it is important for lenders to stay up-to-date with these changes. Ely himself became a Nagel instructor to help people and to force himself to know the rules.
“You really don’t know if you know something until you have to teach it to somebody.” – Jim Ely
He also suggests that lenders should attend conferences and seminars to stay current with the latest developments in the industry.
“You have to go to conferences, you have to go to seminars, you have to keep up with the latest developments.” – Jim Ely
Impact of Technology
Technology has had a significant impact on the SBA lending industry, according to Ely. He notes that technology has made it easier for lenders to process loans and has also made it easier for borrowers to apply for loans. However, Ely also notes that technology has its limitations, and lenders still need to have a personal touch when working with borrowers.
“Technology has made it easier for us to process loans. It’s made it easier for borrowers to apply for loans.” – Jim Ely
He also suggests that lenders should be careful not to rely too heavily on technology and should still have a human touch when working with borrowers.
“You can’t rely too heavily on technology. You still need to have a human touch.” – Jim Ely
The Role of Loan Brokers
Ely explains that his role in the SBA lending process is to help lenders structure deals for credit and eligibility. He also helps lenders talk to customers and explain why an SBA loan is best suited for them. Loan brokers like Ely can also help business owners, CPAs, and business brokers understand the unique aspects of SBA lending.
“The value add I have with lenders is I know how to structure the deal for credit and eligibility. And that value add extends to CPA, his business brokers and business owners.” – Jim Ely
Ely’s experience in the industry allows him to identify weaknesses in deals and figure out how to mitigate them with the SBA guarantee and the structuring of the deal.
“The unique thing about SBA lending is it’s not a cookie cutter one size fits all. The reason why you need the SBA guarantee is because there’s usually a defined weakness, some credit, and you have to identify that weakness and figure out how you’re going to mitigate it with the SBA guarantee and the structuring of the deal.” – Jim Ely
Buying or Selling a Business
In addition to his SBA lending expertise, Ely also shares his insights on buying or selling a business. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the motivations of the seller and the challenges facing the industry.
“Owning a business is not as easy as a lot of people think. You’re you’re you got to understand, why is the seller selling? Is he at that point in his life where you want to spend more time with grandkids? Is he burned out? Does he have health issues or is the business just getting harder, some more competition?” – Jim Ely
Ely also stresses the importance of having fun with the business and making sure the buyer knows what they are getting into.
“If somebody is buying a business, you want to make sure you’re going to be able to have fun with it, too. Yeah, because you don’t want it to turn into drudgery.” – Jim Ely
He also highlights the importance of cash flow in determining the value of a business.“For a lot of people, cash flow means different things to different people. You know, the rule of thumb is IBA doc earnings before interest taxes, depreciation, etc. And you know, that’s the down and dirty key test.” – Jim Ely
If you have questions for Jared, visit JaredWJohnson.com
Connect with Jared on LinkedIn.
Follow Jared on Instagram.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this program are my own and/or those of my guests. They do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of my employer.