FREE MEMBERSHIP Includes » ABL Advisor eNews + iData Blasts | JOIN NOW ABLAdvisor Gray ABLAdvisor Blue
Skip Navigation LinksHome / Blogs / Read Blog


How Safe is Your Asset-Based Lending Business From Online Competition?

April 06, 2016, 07:00 AM

Entrepreneurs need to know that when a deal sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. When it comes to financing a business, we in the asset-based lending industry should be teaching them that fly-by-night financing is money without support or guidance, and there is no such thing as easy money.

Is asset- based lending under attack?

Today, a new industry of online lenders are meeting the demands of young entrepreneurs with the promise of fast, easy, unsecured cash.

As a lender, I’m wondering how millennial entrepreneurs are going to value a lending partner that is committed to relationships and successes over “easy money.” A few clicks and they’re given a pile of cash.

In my business, my competitive advantage is that we focus on relationships, and we invest time and energy into helping our clients make strong business decisions with well-managed risk. This isn’t something we can deliver with a few “clicks.”
We have built a business model through tried-and-true, in-the-trenches learning ... we know what works and what doesn't, we know when a business is likely to need supplementary infusions of cash, and we base our lending decisions on whether we expect our clients to succeed.

That’s our value -- we work for our clients to succeed.

Asset-based lending isn’t going away any time soon, but it is facing threats from these fly-by-night operations that are content with running a volume lending business with insane default rates. Their marketing is highly effective, their products are easy to get, and they are visible where many new entrepreneurs are gathered: online.

For our model to continue helping millions of entrepreneurs, we must articulate our value. We have to educate new entrepreneurs about the difference between an overnight loan and playing the long game.

Attributes of an asset-based lender:

  • Knows the client’s business inside and out
  • Picks up the phone when the client calls
  • Can offer business advice learned through years of experience
  • Helps develop financial strategies
  • Has a vested interest in the client’s short- and long-term success

How to make asset-based lending sexy.

There are a few important things you can do to set your firm apart, and they’re all reasonable pivots.

  1. Maintain social media accounts for your firm, especially Facebook. A loan-seeker today is as likely to visit your firm’s Facebook page as to call you on the phone. A channel like Facebook gives you the opportunity to show the world what kind of company you are, to highlight your firm’s successes, discuss relevant industry topics, and practice conscious capitalism.  You can stand out to millennials by being active where they are active. It’s only going to  become more important as time goes on.
  2. Update your website. If your website looks like it was built in the days of AOL, it’s time for an upgrade. Websites today need great content that connects with the pain points of your customers, and they should be built in responsive design that will display well on mobile devices.
  3. Start a company blog. A company blog gives the marketplace the opportunity to get to to know you, to become more educated and to learn how you add value to your clients.  Utilize search engine optimization  to make sure you are visible when someone searches relevant keywords or keyword phrases like for “how to get a business loan.” Make the case that you care about your clients’ success.

Why do young entrepreneurs need to know about asset-based lenders?

Asset-based lenders know how to make solid business decisions that grow businesses. We know how to help others succeed. It’s not unusual for new business owners to think they know what’s best, and it’s not unusual for them to be wrong. We are more than just bankers.  We help guide people so they can achieve their dreams and innovate with their businesses. Our best days make our clients massively successful.

Entrepreneurs need us, and we need to make sure they appreciate why our services matter.

At Far West Capital, our business is based on relationships, and we build those relationships well. Clients count on us to give them smart business advice and help them find outside marketing, production and workforce solutions.
How can asset-based lenders stay relevant?

  • We can’t sit back and scoff at the changing times.
  • We can’t wait for clients to have bad experiences with “easy money,” only to  fall back to us after they’ve pretty much sunk their ship.
  • We can’t afford to be pushed out of the game because we aren’t in the right channels.
  • We can’t stand by as a model with an exponentially higher default rate squashes out a model with a one percent default rate.

It’s our duty to ourselves, our businesses, our shareholders to show up on the front lines and demonstrate to the marketplace why doing business our way makes them successful.

Cole Harmonson
Co-Founder, President & CEO | Far West Capital
Cole Harmonson is the CEO and co-founder of Far West Capital. After his employer sold their banking business in 2007, Hormonson took the leap into entrepreneurship and started Far West Capital. Growing up in Texas with an entrepreneur father taught him valuable lessons about business, family, and taking care of people. These core values drive the mission of Far West Capital to unleash the potential inside of every business.

Just nine years later, Far West Capital has provided more than $3 billion in financing to growing companies across the country, and its Far Reaching campaign donates over $100,000 to charity annually. Harmonson and his wife Kristi live in Austin, Texas with their dog, Brodie.
Comments From Our Members

Michael Skat
Cole, Great article. We have this discussion about once a week it seems like. As you so appropriately put, we, as an industry, need to recognize the trends and adapt, but also remember how we add value to help build long-term client value. If this sort of consultative approach is taken, a client tends to become more sticky to the portfolio and turnover reduced. Again, great insight as always. Mike Skat President Aegis Business Credit
4.8.2016 @ 8:46 AM

Walter Einhorn • View APN Profile
A truly fine treatise. With a history of over 50 years in ABL, I have seen many successful ABL lenders but even more failures who strayed from fundamental ABL practices. Good luck to you in your business. With your theory, I predict you will be on the successful side of my ledger. Walter Einhorn, Past chairman, Commercial Finance Association
4.28.2016 @ 11:00 AM

Dan Glick • View APN Profile
Nice post Cole. I have always told my clients over the years that they will be better managers with stronger companies because of the disciplines employed by ABL's. Requiring them to generate information such as agings and financial's that they then start looking at is just the beginning. When they get the call asking why their AR turnover is slowing down, payable's going up, etc., they keep learning and getting better at how they do what they do. A true service partner relationship as Far West aptly calls it can be great for an asset based borrower. The online Cash Flow lenders cannot give this kind of service and are typically structured to be short term solutions. I have to say hello to my friend Walter Einhorn! How nice to see your post Walter. If you have a moment, please give me a call at 818-371-3101 to catch up on the past 15 years!
5.10.2016 @ 4:04 PM
You must be an ABL Advisor member to post comments. Login or Join Now.