The FINANCIAL — Wells Fargo extended $22.6 billion in new loan commitments to small business customers (primarily with annual revenue less than $20 million) in the first 15 months of its five-year goal (January 2014 – March 2015).
The company intends to extend $100 billion in new lending to small businesses by the end of 2018. The five-year lending goal was introduced in 2014 along with Wells Fargo Works for Small Business SM, a broad initiative to deliver resources, guidance and services to help business owners achieve financial success, according to Wells Fargo.
“As America’s leading small business lender, Wells Fargo has always focused on supporting small businesses and making every responsible loan we can to help creditworthy businesses grow and thrive,” said Lisa Stevens, head of Small Business for Wells Fargo. “With our $100 billion lending goal, we want to take our commitment to the next level and ensure we’re having conversations with as many small business owners as possible about their credit needs, and how to access capital and succeed financially. It’s rewarding to see the impact of this goal and how it has contributed to banker interactions with business owners, and growth in new lending this year.”
The lending goal tracks Wells Fargo’s new lending to small businesses with annual revenues of less than $20 million, and includes new loans, new or increased lines of credit and credit cards. The company’s progress toward the goal over the last 15 months has been supported by lending growth to small business owners in several areas, including:
Wells Fargo’s combined Business Direct credit card, lines of credit and loan product solutions (primarily under $100,000 sold through our retail banking stores) in first quarter 2015 were up 23 percent from the prior year.
Wells Fargo SBA 7(a) lending approvals, from October 2014 through March 2015 (six months of federal fiscal year 2015), were up 13 percent in dollars and 47 percent in units from the prior year.
“As the economy has continued to gradually improve, loan demand has steadily increased,” said Marc Bernstein, head of Business Direct, Payroll and the Small Business Segment. “One of the most positive trends in the last year has been the increase in smaller businesses with strong balance sheets and cash flow that are applying for and using credit. We know these businesses are the foundation of our communities, and we’re helping a growing number get in position for long-term success.”
Among the thousands of business owners who received credit from Wells Fargo in the last year is business owner Joe Geiman. His Colorado-based business, Central Pump Company, is a water irrigation service provider.
“Following 15 years in the corporate world, I was ready to take on the new challenge of owning my own business,” said Geiman. “Working with Wells Fargo, I received the guidance I needed to finance the purchase of an existing business and secured an SBA loan that gave me the capital I needed. With their support, Central Pump Company is growing to service the entire state of Colorado with plans to expand across the southwestern borders in the near future.”
In addition to announcing its lending goal progress, Wells Fargo recently launched the Business Plan Center, a new Wells Fargo Works for Small Business offering that provides online tools to help business owners create and update their own business plan. Wells Fargo also is conducting a national contest for small businesses: the Wells Fargo Works Project.