Pick a Niche or Go Far and Wide? SMB Financiers Weigh in
As big tech continues to pave the way for new avenues for providing capital for small businesses, the legacy infrastructure in place has their own ideas of how to compete in funding a digitally native business owner. While some say that the strength is in finding a niche, others disagree— claiming that the key is to expand business, avoiding a one-dimensional aspect of funding. On top of this, some commercial finance brokers even claim that an ability to handle digital assets will give them an advantage over a larger tech company, too.
“Finding the niche as far as who you’re funding, and what type of deals you’re funding, will lead to continuing growth,” said Matt Rojas, Senior Lending Officer at Ironwood Finance. While Rojas believes the strength of a smaller brokerage is the ability to service a niche client, he expressed the idea that larger companies getting into the space are going too deep too quickly—resulting in an unsustainable rate of expansion.
“I see the biggest problem with the fly-by-night brokers, these bigger MCA shops that you’re seeing entice brokers to send the clients to them,” Rojas said. “I don’t see how that will sustain long term unless they continue to meet milestones to acquire their capital. I just had a merchant [get] bought out from our firm [by another funder] for over 40K plus, [but] their cash flow could only sustain an 18K MCA max. I’ll never understand how these firms are going to operate on a larger scale unless they are bought by the big firms.”
Other people in small business lending think that the strength is to offer a variety of financial products and options to give merchants choices. “The only way to keep up with the big boys of the industry is to simply just not be a one-trick pony,” said Juan Caban, Managing Partner at Financial Lynx. “Just like they are adapting into new markets and products, we as lenders and brokers need to also enhance our offerings.”
While people like Caban are molding products based on the competitive flow of the industry, Rojas seems to believe the system will bleed the big players dry. “It’s my understanding that as a lender we don’t need to compete with each other on rates like you’re seeing,” Rojas said. “I believe they call this the cash burn stage.”
“They’re going to burn as much cash to acquire clients,” Rojas continued. Then, the dominos fall. […] It’s like a story that paints itself over and over again. The same thing will happen to these bigger firms you mentioned due to the simple fact that their underwriting process doesn’t factor NSFs, non-repayments, or defaults.”
While Rojas focused on what the bigger companies are doing, Caban spoke on what brokers can do on the fly to adjust. He expanded on the idea of using old tactics in new ways, saying that traditional sales tactics may work if implemented with a well-researched and modern spin.
“Before cold calling, research and understand who your target market is and be prepared,” Caban said. “When cold calling, no one merchant has similar needs and goals. We need to ask the right questions, learn about the business, then find customized solutions that are in line with their financial needs and goals.”
A merchant will always appreciate a broker or lender who takes an interest in their business and find solutions that are in line with their goals rather than [their own] financial interests.”
Some brokers have gone outside of the box when it comes to how they will compete in the future of small business lending, saying that traditional currencies have been won over by big tech, and it’s digital assets that will open a brand new market for the next-generation small business lender.
“Since 2008, technology has changed a lot more than just the process in which small business owners find and acquire funding,” said Nicholas Saccone, Senior Funding Advisor at Proto Financial. “As you know, cryptocurrency is becoming more and more mainstream by the day with the Fed scrambling to get control over it. Whether you believe in crypto or not, it will [change] the way we see money.”
Saccone expressed that brokers who embrace learning about digital assets will not only be able to compete with large tech lenders, but beat them out.
“PayPal, DoorDash, and Square can make it easy for companies to secure fiat currency, but as crypto becomes more mainstream, brokers will fulfill a new role as they help educate clients on the new financial system that is upon us,” Saccone said. “It will be physically impossible for large tech companies to integrate crypto into their current systems without brokers doing the dirty work.”
“Mass adoption comes from the top down,” Saccone continued. “Digital collateral tokens, such as Flexa’s AMP, will change the payment processing industry forever. Transactions will become instant and it is my belief within the next ten years, merchants will be utilizing digital assets more than fiat cash.”Last modified: February 18, 2022
Adam Zaki was a Reporter at deBanked.