FTC Forum on Small Business Financing & Merchant Cash Advances
At the FTC Forum on Small Business Financing & Merchant Cash Advances this morning, FTC regulators asked questions of a panel of industry representatives about controversial topics, including the use of COJs. Below are some closely paraphrased responses.
On Confessions of Judgment (COJs)
Scott Crocket, Founder & CEO, Everest Business Funding
The role of COJs is a conversation worth having. What’s the right balance?
We choose only to use them for deals of $100,000 or more. And COJs apply for only 3% of our business. So if there was a ban on COJs, it wouldn’t really affect us. It might just limit the amount we would fund.
The Bloomberg stories are not representative of what we do. We don’t file a COJ when a business is slowing down, but only when we suspect fraud.
Jared Weitz, CEO, United Capital Source
90% to 95% of our deals do not include COJs. And for those where we do use COJs, we give merchants a document that has a description of what it is so that they’re comfortable with it. We tell them that they have to be comfortable with it before they take it.
Jesse Carlson, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Kapitus
After we saw the extent of the use of confessions of judgement by certain individuals/companies, as a trade association, we at the Small Business Finance Association (SBFA) decided to include in our code of conduct a ban on the use of confessions of judgement if you’re a member of the SBFA.
Part of the reason why we do include COJs is because we’re very careful with our underwriting.
We have 5 to 10 employees who speak with merchants when they are having unforeseen financial challenges and we’ll adjust their ACH repayment. Some companies treat the percentage of the company’s sales as an absolute. We’ll offer them modifications.
We remind merchants that the true-up is available.
Ami Kassar, Founder & CEO, Multifunding LLC
Many funders are not as forgiving as these funders say they are.
Kate Fisher, Partner, Hudson Cook
Some MCA funders reached out to merchants affected by the hurricane in Texas and the forest fires in California to adjust their payments.
Other funders stopped requesting payments altogether from merchants who were affected by these natural disasters.
Brokers / Aggressive Marketing
A broker of an MCA deal has to give the commission back if the merchant fails within 90 days.
We work with about 100 brokers/ISOs at a given time and we do background checks on them.
We do background checks on brokers and we monitor their behavior. We don’t hesitate to cut off a relationship with an ISO. We do spot checks, but we don’t monitor every ISO every day.
The Federal Trade Commission hosted a forum on small business financing including loans and merchant cash advances to examine trends and consumer protection issues in this marketplace.
The forum began at 8:30am and concluded at 1pm. Among some familiar names that spoke are:
- Jared Weitz, CEO, United Capital Source
- Scott Crockett, Founder & CEO, Everest Business Funding
- Christian Spradley, Head of Policy & Senior General Associate Counsel, OnDeck
- Kate Fisher, Partner, Hudson Cook
- Ami Kassar, Founder & CEO, Multifunding LLC
- Jesse Carlson, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Kapitus
- Sam Taussig, Head of Global Policy, Kabbage
- Lewis Goodwin, Banking Lead, Square Capital