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CBILS loans: our progress so far

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David Castling09 July 2020
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It has been one month since we announced with much gusto and fanfare that following our accreditation from the British Business Bank, we were now live and kicking to accept CBILS applications for secured loans.

We had agonised a little over the best approach in regards to continuing to accept standard non-CBILS cases at the same time as our new CBILS applications. We settled on focussing our efforts on CBILS for the time being in that it would help streamline our service proposition by concentrating on one thing and doing it to the best of our ability.

I don’t mind admitting that the last 4 weeks have been a whirlwind; we have carried out “socially distanced” training with over 140 firms from our panel utilising the joys of Google Hangouts, deployed our CBILS pricing tool, contributed to numerous marketing campaigns and re-energised our “Find a Broker” solution on the Atom bank website.

Every member of the team (Business Development, Credit Risk, Processing, Underwriting ,Propositions and Legal) has been working flat out to get the new product to market, including making sure our brokers are up to speed on our offering to ensure the applications we get in are of the right quality and eligibility to qualify for the scheme.

The “Find a Broker” section of the Atom bank website has really picked up pace. As our proposition is 100% intermediated, we needed a solution for customers who came to us with direct enquiries regarding CBILS. In a little over 4 weeks we have generated 1000 leads for our brokers. We know we won’t be the recipient of all of these applications as we trust our brokers will guide customers to the right solution for them and this won’t always be with Atom. But we are proud to say we are helping build the businesses of our broker panel and directing new clients towards independent advice at a time when they need it most.

We have now provided quotes for over 255 firms who have made enquiries regarding a whopping £186m in secured lending. Applications are flowing through and offers are picking up pace at the other end.

It has not been without its challenges, we knew there would be significant interest and have been transparent with our broker panel as to what volume of cases we could reasonably process. This is against the backdrop of a scheme that is time limited, as we need to make sure the applications that do come in will be offered before the end of September when the scheme ends. Because of this we have been strict in accepting applications that have everything ready to go, with fully completed application forms and all supporting documentation. This has prevented the processing team from being clogged up with applications that are waiting on additional information, and the clean fully packaged cases can whip through. This however can be frustrating, I get it, why can’t we just make a start on the application whilst waiting on new accounts or MI?

We’ve found that not only does this become inefficient as we have to review the case multiple times as new bits of supporting information are submitted and thus limiting our capacity, but it also creates grumpy customers who think that their cases are perhaps further down the line than they actually are even though we haven’t been able to make a lending decision due to critical info being absent.

We know there are challenges getting up to date accounts and other supporting documents for cases, some accountants firms still have furloughed staff, it’s not as easy seeing clients and generally things that used to be simple and straightforward now take a little longer, ironically when speed has never been more important or sensitive to business customers needing financial support.

As we all settle into whatever the “new normal” is, it's important to support and work with each other to find solutions wherever possible. We are constantly reviewing how we work to provide the best outcomes for customers and will continue to encourage all feedback as we continue to evolve our proposition.

I personally would like to thank all of our brokers for the support we have seen so far and encourage you to get in touch with our business development team with any new business queries. Just as importantly, we’re always open to feedback and would love to know anything you think we could be doing better.