Since 1982, Holtmeyer and Monson (H&M) has been a leading provider of SBA lending services to community banks. With leadership experienced in banking, accounting and SBA lending, H&M helps banks create or expand SBA lending capabilities.
Senior Vice President Beth Kirby has always sought to leverage technology to make the SBA lending process smoother for lenders and for the firm’s own internal team.
“SBA lending can be very tricky. If forms are filled out incompletely or submitted late, financing gets delayed,” Kirby said. “Process automation is critical for scaling SBA services, particularly for small community banks that turn to H&M for help.”
Unfortunately, several years of trial and error with technology solutions left Kirby and her team wanting more.
“For two or three years, we struggled with technology implementation. Each system we tried had many limitations, many of which involved core functionality and fairly basic features,” said Kirby. “My team would simply give up seeking help and would do whatever it took to make it work, often with significant time investment and additional frustration.”
The SPARK onboarding team is highly experienced with SBA lending, so it wasn’t just technical expertise they brought to the table. We had been dealing with technical work-arounds for years, but SPARK understood the real-world challenges of SBA vs. always talking about functionality.Beth Kirby
Senior Vice President, Holtmeyer and Monson
When Kirby and her team selected SPARK in 2017, the hope was that it would solve many of the onboarding and adaptability issues H&M had faced with other solutions. One benefit Kirby noticed immediately was a hands-on onboarding process.
“The SPARK onboarding team is highly experienced with SBA lending, so it wasn’t just technical expertise they brought to the table,” said Kirby. “We had been dealing with technical work-arounds for years, but SPARK understood the real-world challenges of SBA vs. always talking about functionality.”
Knowing the SBA rules and regulations, the SPARK team is able to address the specific challenges of SBA lending. The SPARK onboarding process uses real case examples for training so the advantages of SPARK can be understood in context and users can begin working with the platform immediately.
Another benefit that Kirby saw in SPARK was its specialization in SBA lending. SBA is a rather small market in the grand scheme of business lending, and most other origination platforms do not include SBA as a primary function. While patches and modules are available for SBA, other solutions try and force-fit their existing platforms to include SBA.
“With other solutions, we’d get so far down the implementation rabbit-hole that when we’d run into challenges, the processes were so embedded that they couldn’t be changed,” Kirby said. “We could never adapt quickly enough, but with SPARK we feel like we are ahead of the game.”
SPARK has helped H&M adapt to a more competitive marketplace and maintain a lean staff that supports even greater loan throughput. Coupled with a short onboarding time, trouble-free operation and responsive support from the SPARK team, H&M is pleased with how SPARK has made their SBA lender service operations more efficient.
“SPARK has saved my entire team time, especially since this is the longest we have used the same software. We don’t have to spend dozens of hours figuring out a new system and getting everyone on board with it,” Kirby said. “We also save time because we don’t have to constantly call SPARK with questions; the solution is very intuitive, and my staff loves its dependability.”
H&M hasn’t yet scratched the surface of SPARK capabilities for SBA lending, but Kirby is enthusiastic about the potential for SPARK to further transform their business.
“We only use a few of the features and moving forward we’d like to leverage some of the additional functionality, particularly with SPARK becoming more lender-facing,” said Kirby. “We are already very happy with SPARK because it eliminates all of the work-arounds we have had to put in place with other solutions. It simply works.”