For banks that finance construction projects, managing their loan portfolio—and particularly the draw disbursement process—can be an especially burdensome undertaking.
Most construction projects financed by a bank contain a draw schedule, which is a timeline of intervals for which funds will be disbursed to borrowers and contractors for use. The goal for banks is to make progressive payments as work is completed. Disbursing funds before work is completed or materials have been delivered puts the bank’s capital at risk. Late disbursement often entails delayed projects and poor client satisfaction.
The problem is, many banks have an arduous, time consuming—and ultimately costly—process for fulfilling draw requests. Which is exactly the challenge that Franklin Synergy Bank (FSB) had been facing for quite some time. Headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee, FSB operates with 12 branches, servicing over $400 million in construction and development (C&D) loans. FSB’s loan administration and draw disbursement processes were fraught with administrative headaches: large staffing overhead, heavy phone call volume, duplicate data entry into multiple systems, use of multiple spreadsheets, unmanageable email communications and antiquated fax and paper usage.
In short, FSB’s loan administration approach was not only costing the bank time and money, but it wasn’t allowing it to deliver a top-notch customer experience for their clients. Seeing technology as the most plausible solution to these issues, FSB decided to partner with Nashville-based enterprise software company Built Technologies. A web-based application with mobile functionality, Built’s application is designed to simplify draw management and disbursement for construction lenders like FSB. Built also allows clients and borrowers to manage the loan from their end, delivering a more seamless customer experience. In addition, borrowers and contractors gain more visibility into the draw management process, increasing confidence in their lending institution.
Prior to partnering with Built and implementing the firm’s platform, FSB had to handle most of the draw process manually. A single residential construction loan draw might involve an average of eight back-and-forth emails prior to approval, in addition to significant manual data entry. As a result, FSB’s loan portfolio had grown more expensive to manage, harder to report against and more prone to human error.
After the Built implementation, FSB no longer needs to receive emails to manage construction draws. Upon closing, the bank loads a new loan into the Built platform and grants the borrow, builder and inspector access based on specific user-based permission levels. The borrower or builder can then simply log into the platform and request a draw, triggering an automated series of events within a pre-defined workflow that facilitated only a single approval touchpoint at the end of the process on FSB’s end. Built then releases funds in an automated and fully documented fashion that saves time and energy across all user groups—including builders, borrowers, loan officers and inspectors. The result is providing construction borrowers the same level of access, visibility and convenience that retail customers experience when they bank online.
Adopting the Built platform has allowed FSB to streamline its construction loan administration team from four employees to two full-time and one part-time staff members. And the team went from managing roughly 750 loans at any given time to an increased capacity of over 1,000 loans. FSB was also able to reduce its draw processing time from 24 hours to a mere 30 seconds, resulting in both an increase in interest income and client satisfaction. Human error has been substantially decreased, and Built’s reporting capabilities have provided FSB greater insight into its construction lending portfolio. FSB can now easily identify, and proactively address, overfunded draw requests and stalled construction projects. In fact, this might be the most innovative aspect of the Built and FSB partnership, because it enables the bank to manage its construction loan risk better than its competitors.
The partnership between FSB and Built is a fitting example of a regional partnership setting the pace for what’s likely to be a national trend. Manual and paper processes are a productivity drain on businesses in any industry in terms of time, money and customer satisfaction. And with the enormous amounts of capital invested in building projects, nowhere is this more evident than the construction lending sector. Once other lenders realize the return on investment that merging technology with their loan management and draw disbursement processes can result in, similar partnerships are sure to follow.
This is one of 10 case studies that focus on examples of successful innovation between banks and financial technology companies working in partnership. The participants featured in this article were finalists at the 2017 Best of FinXTech Awards.