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Millennium Bank | ‘A Stronger Case in Half the Time’

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The Challenge: Inconsistent Analysis Creates Inconsistent Decisions

Millennium Bank of Ooltewah, Tennessee, is a community bank committed to their customers’ experience. When John Hatfield joined the bank in 2014 as a credit analyst and started digging into their origination process, he quickly realized that inconsistency led to varying credit analysis results. “I began to see very quickly that, from lender to lender, there was no consistency in the presentation of the analysis,” Hatfield remembers. Compounding a freeform lending process was a spreading tool with limited capacities. Hatfield notes the system was “kind of clunky, no one ever used it the same, and the output was always different.”

Inconsistency also gave way to inefficiency as more time was required to wrangle all necessary documents for big and small opportunities alike. Yet, for Millennium Bank, a faster turnaround time was key in their competitive market. “As a small community bank in a town that has a lot of regional banks, because we are not always the price leader on rates, we have to find other ways to compete. And I think one of the biggest ways we compete is our speed to market, getting an answer back to the client or prospective client quickly,” notes Hatfield. 

Identifying credit analysis as an area of focus, Hatfield and colleague Eve Osborne—who together complete 100% of the credit analysis at Millennium Bank — rolled up their sleeves.

As a small community bank in a town that has a lot of regional banks, because we are not always the price leader on rates, we have to find other ways to compete. And I think one of the biggest ways we compete is our speed to market, getting an answer back to the client or prospective client quickly.
John Hatfield, Credit Officer, Millennium Bank

The Solution:

With momentum strong to standardize and improve the credit process, Millennium Bank sought a way to automate and streamline access to data for the life of the loan. The institution invested in Credit Analysis, Risk Rating and Loan Administration with Document Library. Hatfield and Osborne acknowledge that the Credit Memo and the Electronic Tax Return Reader (ETRR) have been some of the most effective features. Millennium Bank has used Abrigo to implement a consistent credit memo across the bank by creating a standardized template to which lenders can add a narrative. Osborne notes that the ease of accessing data in Abrigo has been paramount in increasing efficiency; “Everything is in front of [us] with one click.”

Abrigo ETRR has further eliminated the need to key in information from tax returns, as all fields from a digital tax return document are automatically input into the system. The power and speed of this process speaks for itself, and Osborne says that showing lenders how “a few clicks puts all of the data from the tax return in the system” has made them more diligent in asking for digital copies of tax returns, and they are empowered to upload these documents ahead of sending the applications over for a decision. Osborne notes, “The output is only as good as the data that everyone collects,” and she credits the ability to upload documents directly into the solution with improvements in data quality and a streamlined data-collection process.

Hatfield points to several instances in which all financial documents were uploaded, and thus entered into Abrigo, before the request even hit his desk. For those loans, within a few hours he could “fully underwrite the deal, ask the lender some questions, put together a credit memo along with the financial analysis, and place them back in his folder on the network drive ready for him to finalize the same day.”

It’s that desired outcome that Millennium Bank uses as the new standard, asking borrowers for electronic documents from the start. They now receive more than 50% of their tax returns electronically, up from only 20% when they started with Abrigo.

The Result: A Uniform and Scalable Process

For Millennium Bank, speed to market is the big differentiator. While Hatfield notes that the deals he has recently been able to turn were under $500K without a lot of complexity, he also points out, “As a community bank, that is most of what we do.” For these smaller deals, the bank has seen big gains in efficiency, allowing Hatfield and Osborne more time to work on complex deals that hit their desks.

These more complex deals have also improved. “We can now produce a stronger analysis of not only the simplistic deals, but the more complex deals. Depending on the total exposure, these deals have to be presented to our board of directors. We can now present a more concise presentation that builds a stronger case for why we feel that credit is worthy to do… we can do that in half the time it used to take, if not better,” says Hatfield.

Improved quality and turnaround time has sparked referrals from happy clients, and loan officers at Millennium Bank have increased loan production by 25% while the institution as a whole has grown from $81M in loans to $125M in less than two years, without adding a single lender to the team.

We can now present a more concise presentation that builds a stronger case for why we feel that credit is worthy to do… we can do that in half the time it used to take, if not better.
John Hatfield, Credit Officer, Millennium Bank

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