By Justin Dullum
Community bankers suddenly have a lot of tech to choose from when it comes to lending platforms. We talked to Snehal Fulzele, senior vice president and general manager for Cloud Lending, a Q2 company based in Austin, Texas, about what makes its digital lending platform a fit for community banks, and got his take on cybersecurity challenges.
Q: What makes some tech offerings better than others for a community bank?
Snehal Fulzele: Community banks are looking for solutions that are easy to integrate with their existing physical and digital channels. For example, the ability to integrate a lending platform that can easily pull customer data from a bank’s core to streamline the approval and underwriting process for both the customer and the financial institution is critical.
Community banks are also looking for platforms that offer a more streamlined borrower experience to transform legacy processes that are too rigid, tedious and inconvenient for the end user. With the right tools, a loan decision that would typically take two or three weeks could be made in a matter of seconds. This speed allows community banks to retain more business with existing account holders.
Q: How does technology inform the borrower viewpoint?
S.F.: Today’s customer wants two things from their lender: A simple borrower experience and competitive rates and terms.
Customers who have an existing relationship with a community bank are likely to go to that institution first in a time of need, say, for a personal loan. Because they already have a relationship with that bank, they assume it’ll be easier for them to apply for and secure a loan. That’s an advantage for the financial institution, but only if they have the digital tools that can make the lending process easy and painless for the customer. Never underestimate something as seemingly simple as autofilling an existing customer’s loan application. If the borrower has to fill out 30 fields in a digital PDF, that goodwill — and potentially the customer’s business — is lost.
Q: How does the “hands on” approach typical of a small bank jibe with a data driven approach when assessing creditworthiness?
S.F.: The best lending platforms bridge the gap between branch interactions and digital engagement, but it all comes down to how well a bank can integrate data and technology into its approach. For example, let’s say a customer is trying to take out a loan in the digital channel, but isn’t able to finish the application. The next day on his way home from work, he decides to stop into his closest branch to finish his loan request. The banker needs to have the capability to pull the application out of the digital channel and finalize the request in-person. And with the ability to better leverage customer data, bankers have more information and more context to help their customers move to the next step in their financial journey.
Q: How is CX considered in your lending platform?
S.F.: Our mission is to build stronger communities by strengthening financial institutions. To fulfill that mission, we empower community banks with the technology and tools to help them build better relationships with their customers, acquire new customers and increase profitability. If our lending solutions lead to a better experience and better outcomes for the end user, then the bank is better equipped to foster longer-lasting relationships.
Q: Your firm offers security products too. Where are community banks most vulnerable?
S.F.: People will always be the biggest security risk for banks, both customers and employees. Every bank should hold regular training sessions with employees to review the latest trends and evolutions in the threat landscape, institute content marketing and education programs that can train consumers to spot suspicious communications or fraudulent activity, and regularly review protocols for how employees report threats.
Q: What are some under-the-radar technologies currently to look out for?
S.F.: Q2 recently closed on an acquisition of PrecisionLender, which takes a data-driven approach to commercial lending, enhanced with machine learning to help structure and negotiate transactions. The commercial lending experience has historically lagged behind the consumer banking experience. We are expanding corporate banking capabilities and helping bankers improve their profitability.