[Gary]: Well, hello and welcome to Experian Business Chat. I’m Gary Stockton, and today we’re going to be discussing how real-time financial statement data can build efficiencies and create opportunities with emerging small businesses.
I’m joined by Yvon Desieux, a Senior Director in our product team, and Yvon is responsible for product strategy and driving innovation in lending through the creation of products and applications for commercial lenders. Sitting next to Yvon is Mike Myers, our Vice President of Product Management here in Business Information, and he leads the product team and AgileWorks Innovation Lab. Welcome to Business Chat, gentlemen.
Well, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a wave of innovation in e-commerce, in restaurant delivery services, in FinTech, digital has raised the stakes. There’s an expectation with consumers and businesses that client experiences should be on an even playing field across industries. But when it comes to applying for loans, particularly on the commercial side, those processes can be quite manual. One of the things that speed things along is real-time, financial statement data. Yvon, what is real-time financial statement data?
[Yvon]: Well, simply, financial statement data in real-time is just when lenders are able to access accounting software via the Internet, to power their lending decisions, and our new product offering Experian DataShare, provides this capability with the power of owner permission data. With this permissioning, small business owners are empowered with the ability to leverage their own financial data, to apply for the loans and other services that they need. So, unlike a credit report, permissioning puts the owner in control of what transactional data they share, to qualify for the loans and lines of credit that they need to keep their businesses running. So this consented data provides personalization balanced with privacy for businesses and growth, balanced with accountability for the lenders.
[Gary]: So, what problem is it solving for lenders? I mean, that sounds like a great solution for small businesses, but what’s it doing for the lenders?
[Yvon]: The feedback that we’ve received falls into four-tier categories. It’s revenue growth creating operational efficiencies, decreasing risk, and creating a better client experience through a modern digital journey that’s easy to understand and delivers faster decisions and quicker access to the financing that the small businesses need.
[Gary]: Mike, when you talk to clients about digital transformation, what are the things that are keeping them up at night? What are they most concerned with?
[Mike]: I think all of our clients, to some degree, are going through a technical transformation, or we often call a path to modernization, and Experian is in the same boat. You know, it’s hard to stay on top of technology and really leverage the cloud and be able to get new products, new services, new capabilities to market quickly. Some of the biggest challenges our clients expressed to us are how do we operate in what’s become a very different environment over the last year, year, and a half with COVID. Things have moved at a much more rapid pace, as far as digitization. So the interactions with their clients have changed. It’s become a bit more impersonal. It’s become a bit more quick and with a sense of urgency, and many clients are struggling to do everything online and do it at a breakneck speed. This is often where API’s and with different technologies, we can keep pace and help our clients integrate data, access data, and ultimately render decisions to their end-users in a much quicker and more time-efficient way.
[Gary]: So API’s, the API Hub, getting access to Experian data. That’s really the thing that they’re plugging in and powering those solutions, right?
[Mike]: Yeah, that’s true. Gary. You know, the API economy has been here for many years, and our clients are integrating our data and, you know, putting it into their systems so their users can access data real-time. And DataShare is one of those services where this data can be integrated into our client’s systems. And there’s no drop-off, there’s no manual, or swivel chair type activity where you’re going to multiple systems. It becomes a much more efficient process. And not only the client wins, but also an applicant gets a much more rapid decision and can go ahead and power their business.
[Gary]: So Yvon, one of the most interesting developments from COVID and what we’ve all been through this past 16 months or so is the explosion in new business filings, and these new businesses, they represent a growth opportunity for lenders, but many of them will lack the credit history to gain access to capital. Can financial statement data play a role in helping emerging and underserved businesses grow? If so, how?
[Yvon]: Yeah, for new and small businesses that haven’t yet established business credit and rely on the owner’s personal credit profile for lending decisions, DataShare gives them the ability to share their financial statements and show the financial health of the business. This expanded data can be used, in the decision-making process in addition to the standard bureau data to create more approvals. By permissioning data, these businesses are able to move out of an unscorable or subprime, hard money loan bracket, into a space that helps them qualify for more traditional loans and lines of credit, with better rates in terms.
[Gary]: Mike, I’ve got another slide here; businesses of color, have been severely impacted by COVID. You can see some of these stats here. 30% of black business owners say that access to credit is the biggest challenge in the next 12 months. 47% said they didn’t apply for financing because they did not think they would be approved, only 37% received all of the financing they sought. Recently on a CBA webinar with a Experian, Janelle Williams from the Atlanta Fed was saying that 83% of the PPP loans went to white-owned businesses, but only 1.9% went to businesses of color. How can Experian DataShare help underserved businesses of color?
[Mike]: Yeah, Gary, you’re really touching on a key point here. You know, small businesses, power our economy. They make up the majority of businesses out there. And based on that recent stat you and Yvon just discussed about new business startups. There’s more than ever, and we all have to do a better job of making sure there’s an equal playing field when it comes to accessing capital, whether it’s trade credit or financial packages, to help them manage their cash flow. And that became more evident than ever again, with the pandemic and the sudden shift in the economy. It became more and more challenging for many small businesses to manage their cash flow, pay their employees, and really see a path forward. So data share is exciting in a number of ways. What excites me is that it now combines a historical process that was done in a much more offline manual way. And now can be done in real-time. And if you start combining that with historical payment information, historical public record filings, in addition to real-time financials, you have a winning combination that can provide a clear view of a small business’s financial status and real-time view. So not only the historical, which is a great way to predict future payment behavior, but also the most current accounts receivable accounts payable information that can really help you understand what their future holds.
[Gary]: That’s awesome. So, Yvon, how can DataShare deepen the relationships between lenders and the small businesses that they serve?
[Yvon]: DataShare drives operational efficiency. So, it allows the lenders to receive the financial statement data in a standardized format. This is regardless of the size of the business or the source of the accounting data. It drastically reduces the level of manual effort required to underwrite a loan. And it automates much of the time spent on the administrative tasks associated with the lending process. So this means that relationship managers and underwriters and credit teams are going to spend less time creating reports and gathering documents and chasing clients. And they’re going to be able to spend more time holding, we hope, value-driven conversations to deepen the relationships they have with their clients and help those businesses grow and expand in line with their needs.
[Gary]: So those small businesses are going to experience greater efficiency, ease of doing business with their lender. The lender has more time to devote and work more closely with those clients, but also maybe the underserved businesses, the unscored businesses, they have that additional insight to see really how that business is doing and how they can grow that relationship with them. Am I right?
[Yvon]: Yeah, absolutely. Time is the big commodity, and speed kills. So what DataShare allows lenders to do is negate all of the wasted time and effort spent onboarding and processing clients. And they can dig into that live transactional data, and get to understand the business, and perhaps share insights with the business owners that even the owners don’t know. So, it allows both sides to work more efficiently and more profitably.
[Gary]: Are you seeing a change in perception on the part of the business owners of today? I mean, a lot of the Millennial business owners they’re used to mobile technology, they’re used to delivery services on-demand services. Do you see a change in perception in permissioning, access to financial statement data?
[Yvon]: Yeah, actually, we have. We typically see adoption rates as high as 90% when it comes to small businesses that are actively looking for financing. So these are motivated clients who typically go with a lender that can provide the quickest time to cash, and DataShare typically cuts down that time to about 65%. We live in a rapidly developing world where digital adoption is at an all-time high, and the same is true for small businesses. As we shift from the stacks of paper and filing cabinets, both lenders and borrowers see the benefits of leveraging technology to make their organizations more efficient and profitable.
[Gary]: The annual review process, too, that’s one pain point that I know that we’ve heard a lot from clients. Is this something that could help clients minimize some of that pressure, that’s a real stressor on bandwidth?
[Yvon]: Yeah, absolutely. DataShare automates the monthly, quarterly, or annual review process. So when a small business permissions their data, lenders are able to choose the data refresh frequency, that is also permissioned. So, combined with covenant monitoring DataShare is able to flag accounts that fall out of an agreed risk threshold, which saves the credit team valuable time having to review their entire book of business and allows them to strategically focus on problem accounts and mitigate risk before it gets out of hand.
[Gary]: So, any further thoughts on how Experian DataShare can help lenders or the small businesses they serve?
[Yvon]: Yeah. Our focus will continue to be on finding ways to automate processes and provide insights into the financial statement data that we acquire. We’ll continue to receive feedback from the clients that we’ve partnered with and integrate that into our roadmap to create new products and services that will benefit both lenders and the borrowers that they serve.
[Mike]: Yeah. I would add Gary that we’re at a really interesting time. You know, there’s the speed and the in-depth view of a small business’s financials at our client’s fingertips that can help equal that playing field and open up financial opportunities for businesses of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and Experian DataShare helps with that. Combine that with our historical trade and public record data, and you’ve got a winning solution for both our clients who are offering the financial vehicles, as well as the applicants, the small businesses out there that need help. And that historically may have been on the outside looking in. Now they have an opportunity to share their financial situation, a picture that can help them move their business forward and access capital when they most need it.
[Gary]: Well, this has been super informative, guys. I want to thank you for taking the time to come on Business Chat. And if you would like to learn more about how real-time financial statement data can help small businesses, Experian recently published a free ebook perspective paper. We’ll provide a link and a QR code for you to download. If you have any questions, of course, feel free to reach out to your Experian account representative to get a conversation started about helping small businesses grow through innovative solutions like Experian DataShare. Thank you very much, gentlemen.