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Loan-pricing models: What to consider for loan origination software

Mary Ellen Biery
August 29, 2022
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Banks and credit unions that leverage an integrated lending and credit platform reap the benefits of a consistent, efficient and defensible lending program.

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Learn more about loan pricing -- including how to assess the relative profitability of loans and how to use the output of loan pricing models -- during the webinar, "Loan Pricing: A Key Driver of Success."

Financial institutions that structure and optimize pricing for loans are able to make sure they are adequately compensated for the risk they are taking. Instead of pricing loans based on a “gut feel” or a request to match or beat competitors’ rates, institutions that utilize loan-pricing models for origination incorporate a more methodical approach. 

Benefits of Loan Pricing

This methodical approach can help ensure the best loan and terms are matched to the borrower so that the financial institution makes the sale and keeps the customer. Loan pricing models or loan profitability models can allow banks or credit unions to set prices based on other institution goals, too, including goals related to profitability targets or loan portfolio composition. In talking with banks, Abrigo has learned these institutions thought a conservative estimate was that they could pick up an additional 5 to 10 basis points in interest if they had more structured pricing methodologies in place.

One overall benefit of effective loan pricing is that it is one of the many ways a financial institution can optimize capital. Optimizing capital is important because it provides institutions with the ability and freedom to deploy capital for developing new products and new markets, addressing regulatory issues or navigating shifts in the macroeconomic environment. 

Another benefit of having a loan-pricing policy or model is that it provides the institution with defensible measures for justifying pricing changes and for avoiding charges of discriminatory pricing, which some lenders have faced in recent years. Officials with the banking regulatory agencies recently outlined best practices they encourage as they relate to evaluating an institution’s fair lending risk, and one of those best practices was to document pricing and other underwriting criteria, including exceptions.

Considerations of Loan-Pricing Models

What are some considerations related to loan-pricing models for an institution's loan origination system (LOS)? According to James L. Adams, supervising examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, pricing is a key underwriting factor that should be addressed as part of a sound loan policy. A simple cost-plus loan pricing model is one method of pricing loans, he wrote in a newsletter for community banks that cites the Fed's Commercial Bank Examination Manual (CBEM).  A cost-plus pricing model requires that all related costs associated with extending the credit be known before setting the interest rate and fees, and it typically considers the following:

  • Cost of funds
  • Operating costs associated with servicing the loan or loans
  • Risk premium for default risk and
  • A reasonable profit margin on capital.

The risk premium for default risk takes into account the borrower’s risk rating as well as the risk rating of the credit facility, according to Adams.

Make more informed loan pricing decisions.

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Reviewing and Adjusting Models

A pricing model can help an institution establish a pricing baseline, but appropriate adjustments should be made to be competitive and receive an appropriate return. Other variables that can affect pricing decisions at origination include payment structure, loan type and institutional relationships, such as those tied to the customer’s borrowing and deposits.

“Management must ensure that an appropriate pricing structure is established and implemented for each type of loan product offered,” Adams wrote. “Management should continuously evaluate and adjust rates in response to changes in costs, competitive factors, or risks of a particular product type.”

The CBEM also makes that point: “Periodic review allows rates to be adjusted in response to changes in costs, competitive factors, or risks of a particular type of extension of credit.” (See the PDF: Section 2040, page 265.)

Of course, because risks can vary so much across borrowers and loan types, setting the loan’s risk premium for default can be one of the most difficult aspects of loan pricing. The risk premium might take into account the financial institution's interest rate forecasts, its appetite for risk, the collateral required, the term of the loan, and other factors. 

Risk-based loan pricing allows financial institutions to offer competitive prices on the best loans across borrower groups while either rejecting or pricing at a premium loans that represent the highest risks. 

Learn More

If an institution is interested in systemizing the loan-pricing process for new-loan origination as well as annual reviews, Sageworks Loan Pricing powered by Abrigo integrates with Abrigo's loan origination software to calculate a defensible and consistent price. In addition, Abrigo offers a webinar on loan-pricing factors to consider and how to handle the loan pricing formula in a changing rate environment. Watch the on-demand webinar here.

About the Author

Mary Ellen Biery

Senior Strategist & Content Manager
Mary Ellen Biery is Senior Strategist & Content Manager at Abrigo, where she works with advisors and other experts to develop whitepapers, original research, and other resources that help financial institutions drive growth and manage risk. A former equities reporter for Dow Jones Newswires whose work has been published in

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About Abrigo

Abrigo enables U.S. financial institutions to support their communities through technology that fights financial crime, grows loans and deposits, and optimizes risk. Abrigo's platform centralizes the institution's data, creates a digital user experience, ensures compliance, and delivers efficiency for scale and profitable growth.

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