What does Specified Percentage or Purchased Percentage Mean?
A whopping 10% of small businesses that sought financing last year sought out a merchant cash advance, according to the latest study published by the Federal Reserve. That figure was up from 8% in 2020 and 9% in 2019. For the the preceding years, that figure had held fairly consistent at 7%. [See 2015, See 2017]. Market penetration, therefore, has arguably increased by about 40% since 2015.
Meanwhile, the percentage of applicants that sought out leasing has gone down over the last seven years: from 11% in 2015 to 8% in 2021. Factoring has hovered around 3-4% consistently.
The pursuit of of loans and lines of credit decreased dramatically from 89% in 2020 to 72% in 2021. And approvals have gone down across the board. Approvals on business loans, lines of credits, and MCAs hit a peak of 83% in 2019 and plunged to 76% in 2020, the first year of Covid. The figure fell even further in 2021, down to 68%. Online lenders and large banks had the lowest approval rates overall, at 51% and 48% respectively.
One Percent Ventures, a loaded name with implications depending on who reads it, is the latest small business funding company to enter the fray. No, it’s not funding for the one percent, but rather the numerical percentage the company would make off first-time clients with near-perfect performance. They’d make just one percent…
The concept, which caught the attention of deBanked, had to be explained in detail, especially when a merchant paying only $500 on a $50,000 advance was communicated as an example. Say what? The catch is in a rebate and the cost independent of the broker’s commission. Nevertheless, One Percent Ventures CEO Isaac Wagschal seems to be bringing in a new concept, one that was originally supposed to be 0%, he says, but he was already stuck with his company name. deBanked did a Q&A to find out exactly how it all works.
– The Editor
Q (Adam Zaki): Why did you choose the name One Percent Ventures?
A (Isaac Wagschal): The original idea for One Percent Ventures wasn’t to be a funding company that gives one percent deals. Originally, we were going to provide branding and marketing services to small businesses who do not have any marketing, but can benefit from it. Our compensation was to be a one percent partnership in the company. Then a situation came my way where I was able to form a team of people with extensive knowledge and experience in the MCA space. I grabbed the opportunity and switched from marketing to funding small business.
We designed the product with a rebate that refunds basically the entire cost of the first advance. I realized that if we changed the rebate where instead of refunding 100% of the 1st advance factor cost, we keep 1%, I wouldn’t have to change the name and logo of the company. This is the reason our merchants are now paying one percent. If I had not already determined the name, the merchants would have been paying zero instead of one percent.
Q: What was the most difficult part of the shift from marketing to funding?
A: Shifting from marketing to funding was very difficult because of the nature of the market which existed at that time. That difficult transition forced the creation of our unique product, which includes rebates and payment-pauses. I looked into the mainstream MCA product in-depth, and realized that from a marketing point of view the product is flawed, and cannot be marketed properly. The more I scrutinized the MCA industry, I realized that the problems are not just from a marketing perspective. There are existential problems that need to be addressed, or they will eventually cause the demise of the industry altogether. Default rates are so high that mathematically the industry is forced to charge extremely high prices. This makes the product unmarketable to merchants who are not in the absolutely highest risk bracket.
I knew that unless we remade the product to be more attractive and marketable to a larger market share, the funding industry had no tangible room for expansion. Why would we want to get into this market space in the first place? As a team, we agreed that instead of hiring ISO-reps and underwriters, we would first hire accountants, actuaries, and data analysts.
We applied the same psychological principles used in marketing, where you try to predict and manipulate people’s reactions. By doing that, we were able to redesign the old MCA product. We introduced a rebate system that gives the merchant an opportunity to potentially only pay a $500.00 factor cost on a $50k advance. In this way, we expanded the current market share, and turned it into a hot product. I hear from ISOs on a daily basis who recontacted old unsuccessful leads, and turned them into deals after they presented the OPV-rebate and payment-pause-award system. This proved that the OPV product is expanding the market share.
Q: What are your thoughts about the market share in MCA?
A: The current market share consists of the absolute highest risk merchants who are willing to pay such high prices. It is becoming harder and harder to maintain deal flow. This has forced the industry to slowly keep raising the standard with respect to how many positions we are willing to accept. If nothing happens, we will soon find ourselves talking about 10th and 15th positions. This is certainly not sustainable, and puts an amazing amount of stress on the ISOs who are working tirelessly to maintain deal flow. They see it all happening, but feel helpless because at the end of the day, they can only present a product that a funder puts on the table. The tiny market of willing and able merchants is also a source of stress, and a key factor to the mistrust that is largely present between ISOs and funders.
Q: What are your thoughts on a relationship with the ISOs and funders?
A: Let’s face it, the way the current ISO-Funder relationship is set up scientifically creates a conflict of interest. It is simple math – when a funder loses a renewal that carried a potential profit of 50k and thinks that the deal could have happened if not for the 14 points that is reserved for the ISO, there is a natural conflict of interest. You can be honest with your ISOs and even give Rolexes and call them your partners on paper, but the spreadsheet still calculates a conflict of interest at the end. The lavish gifts are nice, but they do not eliminate the scientific conflict of interest.
We have corrected this fundamental problem by designing our business model so that our ISOs are genuine partners. This too is simple math – when a funder’s product is designed to issue an unheard-of large rebate, and 3rd party costs are deducted from the final rebate amount, the merchant will obviously be super happy because of the astronomic refund. More importantly, by using this model, the conflict of interests between ISO and funder is erased because mathematically the merchant paid the commission, not the funder!
Q: How does OPV make money? How do merchants qualify for all of your incentives? What are these incentives?
A: Let me first answer the latter part and explain how our product works and then I’ll come back to answer how we make money.
Our typical product is a ninety-day term at 1.49 sell rate. At mid-term, if the merchant didn’t miss any payments, they are eligible for an add-on, largely known as a renewal. At this phase, we begin to issue an OPV-Pause award after each cycle of four consecutive successfully completed payments. The pause awards can be submitted smoothly on our automated online system either one at a time, or they can be saved and initiate a pause for an entire week. After the final payment, if the merchant didn’t miss more than three payments, excluding the pauses, we refund the entire factor cost of the first advance except for 3rd party fees, processing fees, and 1% of the advance, which gives us only $500 profit on a 50k advance.
Every merchant that qualifies for funding, automatically qualifies for all the incentives. The OPV funding model is actually designed to perform better when more merchants actually receive the rebate. Why? Because that also means there has been a drop in the default rates. If every merchant was to qualify for the rebate, it would mean we had a zero percent default rate, which would allow us to make a healthy return, even if we made profit only on the 2nd advance.
This is precisely the reason we added the OPV-Pause awards. It is in our best interest to keep the merchant motivated to stay current on their payments, in order to qualify for the rebate. We even added a condition that in the event a merchant doesn’t have an unused pause award, they can purchase an OPV-Pause for 20% the daily payment. The goal must be to lower default rates so that we can lower the end cost. In this way we can expand the market share and keep the MCA industry alive. The OPV product is designed to do just that.
Q: What are your immediate goals for OPV? How about long term?
A: Phase I was designing the product and building the platform. Now in phase II, we plan to fund deals for at least a year before making any significant changes. We want to build relationships and earn trust by being transparent and honest, even when it hurts. At phase III we will analyze the data and make tweaks we deem necessary. At phase IV, given that the canary returned from the coal mine, we will share our intelligence, and license the OPV platform to reputable funders throughout the MCA industry.
Q: What is your outlook on the future of the non-bank small business funding/lending sphere?
A: In an effort to truly make a constructive change towards preserving the MCA industry, I will speak openly about the elephant in the room. We are all aware of the unfavorable new laws and regulations that constantly threaten our existence. As long as there are politicians who need to win elections, they will be on the hunt for “do-good projects.” There will always be a lobbyist that is looking for deal-flow, who is willing to provide the perfect “do-good” project. One of those will be – “Let’s save the poor merchant from the greedy funder.” The politician can only succeed because the nature of the MCA industry is such that our funders share only the good news. The bad news is confidential, so there is a stigma of excess profit in the MCA sphere. If we can successfully change that stigma, then we will be a thriving industry for many years to come.
Fifty-three percent of firms expected total sales revenues for 2020 to be down by more than twenty-five percent because of the pandemic, according to the latest small business survey published by the Federal Reserve. Eighty-eight percent of firms indicated that sales had still not returned to normal.
Of those hurt by shutdowns, supply chain troubles, and government shutdowns, 26% percent closed temporarily, fifty-six percent reduced their operations, and 48% percent modified their operations.
Fifty-seven percent of firms characterized their financial condition as “fair” or “poor.”
The struggle to remain open sent firms further into debt. Seventy-nine percent of firms had debt outstanding, an 8% increase from 2019. Debt also increased; the share of firms with more than $100,000 in debt rose from 31% to 44%.
The majority of U.S. businesses believe the next year will be rife with the same struggles as the last. Many believe weak demand, government shutdowns, and supply chain breaks will continue disrupting the world economy.
Overall, firms applied for financing less, from 43% in 2019 to 37% in 2020.
Firms got their funds this year through Government aid programs, and they did so through their pre-existing bank relationships, forgoing alternative funders. Forty-eight percent went through large banks for PPP, 43% to smaller banks. 95% and 83%, respectively, already had a relationship with their large or small bank.
Square Capital Made More Loans, Maintained Default Percentage, Continued to Show Why They’re A Tough Competitor in Fintech Loan MarketFebruary 22, 2017
Square has continued to set itself apart in the fintech lending space. The company announced Wednesday that Square Capital had facilitated 40,000 business loans for a total of $248 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. And they did that while holding their default rate at 4%.
A look at their recent loan volume compared to their competitor OnDeck:
Square Capital’s biggest competitive advantage is that they have practically no acquisition cost for their borrowers. “We’re able to upsell and cross-sell to our base of millions of sellers with minimal incremental cost,” Square’s Q4 earnings presentation says. Their payment’s customers, which they can convert to borrowers, processed around $50 billion in transactions last year.
Square had a net loss of $171.6 million across 2016 however, the bulk of which originated in the first quarter. The net loss for Q4 was only $15 million.
A survey of small businesses once again revealed that Total Cost of Capital (TCC) was a better metric than Annual Percentage Rate (APR) when choosing a small business loan. This study, conducted by Edelman Intelligence on behalf of the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), found that a majority of respondents stated that they would look to minimize TCC, rather than APR, when considering loan options in the face of a short-term ROI opportunity.
The ETA explained this in the report as follows:
Generally, when consumers take out a loan, they are not making an income-generating investment that would increase the funds available to pay the loan back. Therefore, in most situations, the more “affordable” loan for a consumer is one with a longer term and lower monthly payments, even if it results in paying more over the long term. Consumers, therefore, look at APR, which describes the interest and all fees that are a condition of the loan as an annual rate paid by a borrower each year on the outstanding principal during the loan term. APR takes into account differences in interest rates and fixed finance charges that may otherwise confuse a consumer borrower and is most useful in comparing similarly long-term loans, such as 30-year mortgages or multi-year auto loans. Likewise, APR is useful for comparing revolving lines of consumer credit, like credit cards, where the amount borrowed each month changes. APR allows consumers to compare the rate at which an outstanding balance would increase under different credit cards.
While APR describes the cost of the loan as an annualized percentage, TCC represents the sum of all interest and fees paid to the lender. As the Cleveland Federal Reserve recently noted, TCC enables a small business to determine the “affordability” of a product – a key driver for most small business borrowers. Unlike consumer loans, commercial loans are normally used to generate revenue by helping a business purchase equipment or inventory or hire additional employees. Thus, “affordability” for small business borrowers means assessing the cash flow impact of the loan and comparing the TCC of the loan and the return they expect to earn from investing the loan proceeds. To reduce TCC, many small business borrowers prefer short-term financing they can quickly pay back with the return on their investment (ROI).
The ETA’s full report can be VIEWED HERE.
The findings are consistent with other studies:
We’re now 9 days away from the commencement of California’s Commercial Financing Disclosure Law. Despite the industry’s best efforts to spread the word about the upcoming changes, deBanked has informally queried several industry participants over the last few weeks to assess their preparedness and in the process learned that a significant percentage of funders and brokers still believe that the law is just about some kind of new form that has to be included with the contract.
This despite a widely read September 9th story that conveyed that there was much more to it than that.
Since then, however, a number of brokers in the market have been asked to resign ISO agreements or to prepare for compliance with the necessary processes governing disclosure trigger events (wait, the what now?). Brokers may also have noticed that a number of funders have also made changes to their stip requirements as they narrow down which permissible method they’ll use to calculate an estimated APR while at the same time formulating a mathematical model to be able to comply with the reasonably anticipated true-up scenario disclosures (huh?).
Some participants have heralded the law as a turning point for eliminating bad actors while later discovering only recently for the first time that the law may actually adversely impact their business as well. From there it’s like a roller coaster through the five stages of grief, in which they all do the math and realize that California is 12% of the population and can’t be written off. The acceptance phase is when they finally decide that they will figure out what form they need to include, only to find out that it really is more than just a form.
To be sure, several participants have also communicated that they’re feeling good about preparedness for compliance, so the world won’t end. It just might be tricky now for the segment of the industry that’s been putting off addressing this change to be ready in time. It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds. Are you ready?
Forty-Six percent of women make up the workforce in the financial services industry with only 6% of them being CEOs. Reshaping the narrative of men dominating the finance world, women in various components of the industry are making their mark. Sarah Kelly, Lindsey Rohan, and Heather Francis are three women that particularly stand out in the commercial finance industry.
Equipped at Birth
Born into equipment finance, Sarah Kelly got her start by working for the family business at KLC Financial. After a decade of becoming an expert in the trade, she spent some time in the medical equipment finance side of the industry before finally landing at Dedicated Financial GBC, where she is now the Director of Servicing. Dedicated has been experiencing growth, according to Kelly, as the company just hired five new employees in the last couple of weeks.
“I have a lot of confidence in the leadership team and was excited that they were open to having a woman on the team,” said Kelly. “They’ve welcomed me in wholeheartedly, they always ask for my opinion, I’m always willing to give it and I feel like we’ve really all connected to make Dedicated a great company.”
Kelly believes that women should support one another to do better. Even a little friendly competition to push each other to be their best selves doesn’t hurt.
“I believe that we can really show other women that you can be whatever you want to be in this industry, that there’s no limit, there really aren’t,” said Kelly. “I feel like some people think that there might be just because they are a woman but there really is no limit and we just need to get that word out there to them…”
Practicing the Laws of Finance
Finance wasn’t exactly the plan for Lindsey Rohan after law school. Working for a law firm in Long Island she dabbled in real estate closings, but with having two small children at the time, balancing work and motherhood were always at odds. Determined to have her own practice, she started Pollack Cooper & Fisher, P.C. where she worked as a real estate attorney for 8 years. She hadn’t ever foreseen commercial finance as her next career path, but a call from a family friend led her to join a merchant cash advance company.
“It actually became quite a good fit because it’s a lot of multitasking, a lot of looking at all the various aspects of a corporation and its life, and how you can protect it,” said Rohan, Deputy General Counsel at Basepoint Capital.
Handling the legal infrastructure of the company, building out departments to make sure there are checks and balances, and making sure all the collections teams abide by the regulations are routine in Rohan’s schedule. Having much success in her position, a notable point in her career has been about building the Alternative Finance Bar Association. The AFBA was created to facilitate the exchange of information with attorney members concerning alternative finance.
“What’s interesting about this is that while the industry itself is male dominated, most of the dominant attorneys in the space are women,” said Rohan. “Some of the largest originators, the General Counsel are women. The leading compliance and regulatory firm, the two attorneys that lead the group that handle commercial business are both women. And that’s an interesting dynamic.”
Working in a predominately male-led industry can have its challenges but Rohan claimed she never found it to be anything that’s held her back. Acknowledging at conferences that only about 10% of attendees are women while the rest are men, she does not believe it has had a negative impact on growth. Rohan agrees it’s important to support women in every endeavor and to not shy away from positions in this industry.
“Just do it, just jump in,” said Rohan. “Don’t hesitate, you’re in control. The amount that you learn is the amount that you allow yourself to be exposed to.”
Funding with Francis
Graduating with a degree in Health Promotion and Education, Heather Francis took a left turn into finance. Working for a private equity firm, she managed portfolios as well as oversaw many others. That position became her crash course into the industry, fueling her relationship into the financial services world and eventually encouraging her to start her own company in 2015, Elevate Funding. As CEO and Founder, Francis has had to do it all.
“I think owning my own business is accomplishment in itself, as well as being a mom and a wife,” said Francis.
Without dwelling on the industry being predominately male, Francis believes it has opened many doors for her. The women in the field are a “close knit group” propping each other up and sharing information, she explained. She believes it is important to support everyone that demonstrates drive and attitude to better themselves. That can be providing pathways, being a soundboard, introducing people, and simply giving out words of confirmation.
“I’ve always seen that the boys have a club, so do the girls, it’s never been anything that’s been a worry to me, or I’ve been like, ‘I’m being held back because of being a woman in finance,’” said Francis.
As a Board member of the SBFA, Francis helps solve problems in the industry and contributes ideas. And with rapid change surrounding the business, she has a hopeful disposition on where it’s heading as we enter a new economic phase. Experiencing the recession back in 09’, Francis saw the industry grow exponentially between 2009 and 2011.
“Traditional finance pulls back when times are hard, and we’re able to be a little bit more nimble and move around to adjust for it, but still keep funding,” said Francis.
Bonded through finance, women are navigating throughout the industry with strong personalities, outspoken voices, and confidence. Born into the field or pivoting their way in, they seem to be embedded into every aspect. While being a team player to everyone, these women continue to push their career forward with hard work, sticking to core values, and knowing who they are.
There may be no word as terrifying to stakeholders in the merchant cash advance business than the term ‘defaults’.
In an industry where a significant portion of revenue is generated from daily or weekly automatic withdrawals from a merchant’s bank account, defaults can cause deep and lasting problems. Not only do they eat into profits, but they damage relationships with banks and processors- both of which are essential to the success of any merchant cash advance company. Defaults can also be contagious: if one merchant in a large portfolio decides to stop making payments, it can have a ripple effect that leads to other merchants doing the same thing.
All these are reasons why MCA companies go to great lengths to avoid defaults at all costs: they exhaustively screen merchants before approving them for funding and do all the due diligence needed to ensure they can follow realistic payment plans. They also attach a fee to every deal to cover the percentage of the deal they expect will not come back, and conventional thinking would be to aim to keep that number as low as possible.
That’s a lot of work to keep that default rate low, but what would you think if I were to contend your default rate is too low, and it’s hurting your bottom line?
Fear of defaults is paralyzing MCA funders and inevitably leading them to leave opportunities-and money- on the table.
Better Accounting Solutions has been the leading accounting firm in the MCA space for over a decade, and has seen this across the board:
Many MCA companies have adopted a risk-averse approach to avoid defaults, opting for sure-fire deals in higher positions, rather than taking calculated risks that could enhance their bottom line. In the name of capitalizing on low-risk deals with a lower chance of default, many companies choose to fund deals where they charge smaller fees than what they could be charging if they choose to fund deals others are wary of taking.
Let’s look at two deal examples for an example of my thesis:
Average Andrew is the perfect merchant for an MCA company. He is getting a $100,000 advance with a deal length of 7 months (140 days) and with his rock-solid history, his default rate is a meager 6%. The RTR on the deal is 44%, the UR fee is 7%, broker’s commission is 10%, meaning the profit on this deal will be $35,500- a net unit profit percentage of 35%, profiting $5000 a month. He is a great client, and a pleasure to work with.
Now let’s examine his buddy, Reformed Ricky. He’s made some mistakes in the past and now wants a business advance to grow the business he believes is The One. No one else wants to touch him, so you offer him a deal of $35,000. Because he is a riskier advance proposition, you can raise the RTR to 49%, and the UR fee to 12%. On a deal like this, the commission is around 14% and the default rate will be a whopping 18% on a merchant like this, but the profit to be made on this deal is $10,150- a 29% net unit profit, getting $3,383.33 monthly profit over the length of the deal.
Now, looking at the structures of both deals, why would I advocate that someone advancing Reformed Ricky instead of Average Andy? What’s the advantage of working with the weaker merchant over the perfect one?
Because of his history, you can set the duration of Reformed Ricky’s deal to 60 days (3 months). That means according to the terms of his deal, your profit is 9.67% a month. You’ll be stunned to learn that when you break down your monthly profit on Average Andy’s deal, it is a considerably smaller percentage of 5.00%!
This means every month you’re making more back on the smaller deal, and are getting it to work for you by placing it into new deals and generating more income for you, because of its shorter term. If you’re only taking deals with longer outstanding balances, it will take you a considerably longer amount of time just to make a smaller profit percentage.
On top of this, we also have to account for the compounding effect you will quickly be seeing when you take these ‘riskier deals: because you’re earning more money per month due to the shortened duration of supposedly weaker deals, you will be able to turn it around more times per year, supercharging your growth quicker than what you’d be seeing you stuck to only ‘traditionally-safe’ deals.
I’m not advocating for funders and brokers to be irresponsible and create a new and much less entertaining version of The Big Short, throwing money around to people that don’t stand a chance of paying it back.
I am saying that they should consider funding merchants and positions they were wary of till now, and responsibly assessing the opportunities and upside for them at those positions.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should mindlessly funnel money into every deal that comes your way. You still need to be responsible and vet your investment opportunities carefully, and of course, if it turns out you’re picking the wrong deals and your default rate explodes, you will have to reevaluate your approach.
However, working from a place of fear is not the way to grow and thrive, certainly in this business. Moreover, by avoiding risk altogether, MCA companies are likely to become less competitive over time. After all, it’s only through taking risks and innovating that businesses can thrive in today’s rapidly changing world, especially in the rapidly evolving and growing MCA industry, where more and more people are seeking to find their niche.
A great number of successful investors in MCA companies have complained to me that their partners are too conservative with the deals they are choosing to fund and leaving too much capital in the bank, costing the investors higher facor rates instead of working for them.
This approach is a way to break away, and ahead, of the pack, because only by taking the opportunities others keep passing by will MCA companies be able to grow and compete in the long run.
of all the deals in your pipeline, what percentage do you actually close? sales close ratios let you know how effective you are as a sales rep. a...
Ready to make some money?...
the commercial finance academy is now accepting applications for our october classes!! we are offering a comprehensive 5 day course that will teach y...
percentage of usage are they at...
percentage for psf's or additions to their set up fee, but regardless if they do or not it's going to cost you that merchant or potentially even endanger the repayment if they don't net enough (this is really high risk stuff i'm talking about, but i have seen guys wack a 3k origination fee on a guy we funded for 10k). , , someone pointed out that certain places will allow you to add to their contract set up prior to drafting, and it's true.. i've done that before, which is also segways into another lesson of being aware of every funder's specifics from product space to buy rates, terms, commission allowances etc. it's key to know where you have maneuverability and how to place deals so that they not only get funded but it maximizes profit for you too. after all.. we all play this game to get paid right?...