Look for These 5 Qualities when Choosing an SBA Lender

With many banks to choose from, these guidelines will help you narrow down the field of small business lenders.

Ali Hardy Mar 12, 2019

A U.S. Small Business Administration loan can be a game changer for many small businesses seeking financial assistance. Access to capital, competitive rates and terms, and free counseling and resources are just a few reasons why many businesses are opting for SBA loans.

If you’re considering applying for an SBA-guaranteed loan, the first step is to choose an SBA lender. Since the SBA doesn’t issue the loan, you’ll need to select an SBA-approved lender to help you with the loan process. But with many banks to choose from, how do you know which SBA lender is the right fit for you?

Karen Appelgren, director of the Zions Bank Business Resource Center in Boise, says small business owners should consider the following five criteria as they begin their search for an SBA lender.

Top SBA Lender Quality #1: Experienced

Appelgren recommends looking for a bank with proven small business lending experience. SBA loans have different requirements than conventional small business loans, so finding a lender with plenty of SBA loan experience is crucial. Ask how many SBA loans the lender typically approves and what to expect from the loan process.

Top SBA Lender Quality #2: Efficient

You are more likely to streamline your loan process by selecting an SBA Preferred Lender, Appelgren says. The SBA’s Preferred Lender Program simplifies the lending process by granting designated lenders the authority to make final credit decisions, saving you time and energy.

Top SBA Lender Quality #3: Local

Local financial institutions understand the importance of small business to the local economy and value the work they do to create jobs and fuel growth, Appelgren says. Local lenders are committed to the communities they serve and are invested in the long-term success of their clients. Additionally, when decisions are made locally, clients often experience faster turnaround times and quick answers to their questions.

Top SBA Lender Quality #4: Creative

The right lender will be one who is passionate about helping you achieve your goals and willing to find unique solutions to fit your financial needs. Appelgren says a great SBA lender should be dedicated to finding the right funding option for your project and be willing to go the extra mile for your business — even when roadblocks occur.

Top SBA Lender Quality #5: Dynamic

Finally, Appelgren recommends choosing a lender that can continue to provide you with stellar service long after your small business loan closes. Consider a financial institution that is well-appointed to assist you with all your banking needs and has what it takes to meet the changing demands of your growing small business. The best lender is a valued resource, not just a provider of financing.

If you’re looking for an SBA lender to help your small business grow, look no further than Zions Bank’s SBA lending team. As an SBA-Preferred Lender and the top 7(a) SBA lender for 25 consecutive years in Utah and 17 consecutive years in Idaho, Zions Bank’s team of experts can help you find the right SBA loan for your small business.

In fiscal year 2018, Zions Bank approved 298 SBA 7(a) loans in Utah and Idaho, totaling more than $53.7 million. Zions Bank approved 20 percent of the SBA-backed loans in Utah and 21 percent of the 7(a) loans approved in the Boise District, with an average loan size of $188,000, a strong indicator of the bank’s support for small businesses in Utah and Idaho.

Additionally, Zions Bank continues to be a leader in marketing SBA loans to women- and minority-owned businesses, which accounted for 52 percent of the loans approved by Zions Bank in Utah during fiscal year 2018.

To compare available SBA loans, SBA loan amounts, repayment terms, and interest rates, see the Zions Bank SBA loan comparison table. Apply online anytime or visit your local Zions Bank branch.

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