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Home » Industry & Business » How to Grow a Small Business in a Pandemic-Era Lending Environment
Simon Hitzig, Accord Financial

Simon Hitzig

President and CEO, Accord Financial

For small businesses in need of immediate cash flow, fair, streamlined loan programs are hard to come by. Here’s how a new offering from Accord Financial fills a financing gap.

It’s no secret that small businesses are feeling the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic as rolling lockdowns continue to put immense pressure on virtually every industry. Meanwhile, the climate of economic uncertainty is making lenders more cautious than ever, compounding the problem for firms in need of liquidity to keep their operations afloat. For those looking beyond traditional financial institutions for access to capital, a new offering from Accord Financial is just the ticket.

Moving beyond traditional lenders

“Our industry is accustomed to evaluating the financial strength of a client, and forecasting is an important part of that process,” says Simon Hitzig, President and CEO of Accord Financial. “That’s been virtually impossible to do over the last year, and that environment has been particularly tough for small businesses, since banks have been less inclined to lend money to smaller companies. Many small businesses are using their savings — in some cases retirement savings — just to make it through.”

Non-bank financial institutions like Accord Financial are stepping up to fill the gap. “What differentiates us in the Canadian market is the fact that we’ve been doing this since 1978,” says Hitzig. “Most other companies in this space were born in the past ten years. We have staying power, financial strength, and transparency, since we’re a public company. If you’re a small business that needs to borrow money, it’s helpful to know that your lender will continue to be around.”

Small businesses have been inundated with mixed messages about different loan programs, many of which are difficult to apply for. To help simplify and expedite the process, Accord redesigned the application process to help small businesses tackle pandemic-era challenges with urgency.

Small business loans on speed dial with AccordExpress

AccordExpress, launched in December, is a fast, streamlined program for small business loans up to $250,000 — the only such program backed by EDC’s Business Credit Availability Program Guarantee. “You fill in the 20-minute application form and get a response within a matter of hours, compared to the days or weeks it would take with a bank,” says Hitzig.

The application requires significantly fewer documents than for an institutional lender, thanks to Accord Financial’s proprietary credit model and experience. “We’ve automated a lot of the process, and work closely with partners in the credit industry to develop client profiles and back-end statistics,” says Hitzig. “That allows us to lend with confidence and minimal hassle for the client.”

Throughout its 42 years of history, Accord Financial has a wealth of experience with businesses in transition — and while COVID-19 is a novel challenge for any company, helping businesses adapt to new environments is Accord’s distinctive strength. Thus, the firm not only helps solve a business’s initial challenges, but ensures a fair repayment process. “A key feature built into the AccordExpress product is that clients can repay their loan at any time with no penalty whatsoever,” says Hitzig. “That’s a unique feature in the Canadian lending market.”

“The big banks will likely continue operating in their comfort zone, which is consumer lending, mortgages, and larger business loans,” says Hitzig. “That leaves a large portion of the economy not covered by the banks, and non-bank financial institutions with a significant role to play.”

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