Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

The Profitability of Patriotism: SME Lending

What a  difference a year makes.  A year ago the banks came crawling to Washington begging for a massive capital infusion to avoid an Armageddon of the global financial system.  They sent out an urgent SOS for a $750 billion life preserver of tax payers money to keep the banking system liquid.  Our country’s chief bursar Hank Paulson, designed a craft that would help the banks remain afloat.  Into the market maelstrom Mr. Paulson launched the USS TARP as the vehicle to save our  distressed ship of state.  The TARP would prove itself to be our arc of national economic salvation.  The success of the TARP has allowed the banks to generate profits in one of the most prolific turnarounds since Rocky Balboa’s heartbreaking split decision loss to Apollo Creed.  Some of the banks have repaid the TARP loans to the Fed.  Now as Christmas approaches and this incredible year closes bankers have visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in their heads as they dream about how they will spend this years bonus payments based on record breaking profitability.   President Obama wants the banks to show some love and return the favor by sharing more of their balance sheets by lending money to small and mid-size enterprises (SME).

Yesterday President Obama held a banking summit in Washington DC.  Mr. Obama wanted to use the occasion to shame the “fat cat bankers” to expand their lending activities to SMEs.  A few of the bigger cats were no shows.  They got fogged in at Kennedy Airport.  They called in to attend the summit by phone.    Clearly shame was not the correct motivational devise to encourage the bankers to begin lending to  SMEs.    Perhaps the President should have appealed to the bankers sense of patriotism; because now is the time that all good bankers must come to the aid of their country.  Failing that, perhaps Mr. Obama should make a business case that SME lending  is good for profits.   A vibrant SME sector is a powerful driver for wealth creation and economic recovery.    A beneficial and perhaps unintended consequence of this endeavor is  the economic security and political stability of the nation.  These  are the  worthy concerns of all true patriots and form a common ground where bankers and government can engage the issues that undermine our national security.

The President had a full agenda to cover with the bank executives.  Executive compensation, residential mortgage defaults, TARP repayment plans, bank capitalization and small business lending were some of the key topics.  Mr. Obama was intent on chastising the reprobate bankers about their penny pinching credit policies toward small businesses.  Mr. Obama conveyed to bankers that the country was still confronted with major economic problems.  Now that the banks capital  base has been stabilized with Treasury supplied funding they must get some skin into the game and belly up to the bar by making more loans to SMEs.

According to the FDIC, lending by U.S. banks fell by 2.8 percent in the third quarter.  This is the largest drop since 1984 and the fifth consecutive quarter in which banks have reduced lending.   The decline in lending is a serious  barrier to economic recovery.  Banks reduced the amount of money extended to their customers by $210.4 billion between July and September, cutting back in almost every category, from mortgage lending to funding for corporations.  The TARP was intended to spur new lending and the FDIC observed that the largest recipients of aid  were responsible for a disproportionate share of the decline in lending. FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair stated,   “We need to see banks making more loans to their business customers.”

The withdrawal of $210 billion in credit from the market is a major impediment for economic growth.  The trend to delever credit exposures is a consequence of the credit bubble and is a sign of prudent management of credit risk.  But the reduction of lending activity impedes economic activity and poses barriers to SME capital formation. If the third quarter reduction in credit withdrawal were annualized the amount of capital removed from the credit markets is about 7% of GDP.  This coupled with the declining business revenues due to recession creates a huge headwind for SMEs.  It is believed that 14% of SMEs are in distress and without expanded access to credit, defaults and  bankruptcies will continue to rise.  Massive business failures by SMEs shrinks market opportunities for banks and threatens their financial health  and long term sustainability.

The number one reason why financial institutions turn down a SME for business loans is due to risk assessment. A bank will look at a number of factors to determine how likely a business will or will not be able to return the money it has borrowed.

SME business managers must conduct a thorough risk assessment if it wishes to attract loan capital from banks.  Uncovering the risks and opportunities associated with products and markets, business functions, macroeconomic risks and understanding the critical success factors and measurements that create competitive advantage are cornerstones of effective risk management.  Bankers need assurances that managers understand the market dynamics and risk factors present in their business and how they will be managed to repay credit providers. Bankers need confidence that managers have identified the key initiatives that maintain profitability.  Bankers will gladly extend credit to SMEs that can validate that credit capital is being deployed effectively by astute managers.  Bankers will approve loans when they are confident that SME managers are making prudent capital allocation decisions that are based on a diligent risk/reward assessment.

Sum2 offers products that combine qualitative risk assessment applications with Z-Score quantitative metrics to assess the risk profile and financial health of SMEs.   The Profit|Optimizer calibrates qualitative and quantitative risk scoring  tools; placing a powerful business management tool into the hands of SME  managers.   SME managers  can  demonstrate  to bankers that their requests for credit capital is based on a thorough risk assessment and opportunity discovery exercise and will be effective stewards of loan capital.

On a macro level SME managers must vastly improve their risk management and corporate governance cultures to attract the credit capital of banks.  Using programs like the Profit|Optimizer,  SME’s can position themselves to participate in credit markets with the full faith of friendly bankers.  SME lending is a critical pillar to a sustained economic recovery and stability of our banking system.  Now is the time for all bankers  to come to the aid of their country by opening up credit channels to SMEs to restore  economic growth and the wealth of our  nation.

You Tube Music Video: Bruce Springsteen, Seeger Sessions, Pay Me My Money Down

Risk: banking, credit, SME

December 16, 2009 Posted by | banking, credit, government, Paulson, Profit|Optimizer, recession, risk management, Sum2, sustainability, TARP, Treasury | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SME Development Bank

Over the Labor Day Weekend Sum2 announced The Hamilton Plan. The Hamilton Plan is a ten point program to foster the development of manufacturing in the United States by tapping the entrepreneurial energy of small and mid-size enterprises (SME). The plan’s 10 points address sustainable business models, GRC best practices, capital formation initiatives, SME banking, labor union stakeholder empowerment, association syndication, cooperative formation, support for public education and cooperative learning.

This is an introduction to The Hamilton Plan, why it’s needed and the call for the creation of an SME Development Bank (SDB) to facilitate capital formation to achieve the goals of the program.

The Hamilton Plan, named after the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, proposes a ten point program to develop small and mid-size enterprise (SME) manufactures. The Hamilton Plan invites business owners and executives, industry associations, chambers of commerce, banks, capital market participants, labor unions, academia, non-profit organizations and governmental institutions to join forces in a concerted effort to support the reestablishment of the manufacturing infrastructure of the United States.

The vital national interest can be served by institutions representing business, labor, local communities and government to join together to foster optimal conditions to incubate and develop SME manufactures. SMEs are a natural strength of the US economy. SME represent largest most vibrant sector of the economy and by combining the entrepreneurial drive and creative energy of SME’s with the pressing need for innovative manufactures; America can reestablish its ascendancy as a preeminent power in the global economy. The Hamilton Plan is designed to provide incentives and encourage the formation of support clusters to develop SME manufacturing.

The Hamilton Plan:

1. Adoption of World Business Council Standards for Sustainable Business

2. Establish Incubators for Targeted Growth Industries

3. Adopt Sound Governance, Risk, Compliance Practices (GRC)

4. Formation of SME Development Bank / Capital Formation Initiatives

5. Partnership Lyceums for Government / Business / Academic Institutions

6. Labor Unions as Preferred Stakeholder / Association Syndication Unions

7. Establish Cooperatives for Technology / Licensing / Commodities / Energy

8. Superfund for Progressive Tax Code / Universal Health & Benefits

Infrastructure Investment / Brownfield Remediation and Reclamation

9. Expand Public Education Funding & SME COOP Program

10. Support Millennium Development Goals

Capital Formation Key to Success

The Hamilton Plan in its entirety is designed to respond to the compounding economic and political crisis that is confronting the United States. The credit crisis, energy dependence, industrial stasis, trade deficits, geo-political instabilities, aging infrastructure and climate change are the result of long term systemic problems that government and industry has failed to address effectively. The Hamilton Plan advocates the adoption of the program to squarely address these pressing issues with the full understanding that it will require the concerted cooperation of all stakeholders to assure the continued development, security and prosperity of America.

The Hamilton Plan requires concerted focus of investment capital to fund development and to make sure that assets are allocated to channels that will assure optimal returns and that equity participation of stakeholders is protected and rewarded. The establishment of an SME Development Bank (SDB) is a structured investment vehicle and corporate institution that will focus, manage and administer capital formation initiatives to incubate and develop SME manufactures.

At its core, The Hamilton Plan seeks to preserve the free flow of investment capital to finance national economic development and empower SME manufactures. The Hamilton Plan is not a substitution nor in any way seeks to supplant the American free market system. The Plan is designed to unleash, pool and focus investment capital. The Plan leverages regulatory capital, compliance and governance. The Plan seeks to achieve strategic economic goals, build wealth and prosperity in US and realize broader goals and objectives to assure sustainable economic growth, nurture innovation,  ecological balance and global competitiveness.

SME Development Bank (SDB)

The SDB would be chartered to assure that capital is deployed to meet appropriate program projects and assure effective stewardship of shareholders capital. The SDB would be the repository for economic and regulatory capital. It would maintain capital adequacy ratios in conformance with Basel II directives. The SDB would serve as a fiduciary to distribute capital through local community banking channels. SDB governance would assure that program objectives, ownership equity, credit requirements, capital allocations, shareholder rights and income distributions are made to SDB shareholders.

Government funding of the SDB would consist of share purchases financed by capital from a national development Superfund. The Superfund would receive tax receipts from a progressive national tax program, budget allocations, licensing and royalty receipts, dividend reinvestment’s and capital gains proceeds from the sale of assets.

Shareholders in the SDB would be community banks, institutional fund managers, state/local/federal government, private equity firms, business owners, company management, associations, labor unions, employees, academic institutions, non-profits organizations. Different forms of capital would be recognized and used to purchase shares in the SDB. For example, local governments can purchase shares in the SDB with tax credits or land grants or infrastructure improvement projects; labor can purchase shares with sweat equity, academic institutions with intellectual capital etc.

Securitization of SDB shares can be created to trade on public exchanges. Any secondary market listings would occur after underlying assets have been properly seasoned. Shares in the SDB would offer terms of extended time frames for investment lockup and share redemption.

Community Bankers as Risk Managers and Distribution Conduits

Community Banks have a critical role as an SDB equity partner. The community bank is the primary channel by which equity and credit capital is provided to the SME. They are front line risk managers and advisors for portfolio companies. Community banks are astute relationship managers. Community banks understand local market conditions and can link assets and service providers to build support clusters and expanded value chains for SMEs. Community bankers will help SMEs focus on capital allocation strategies and support efforts in encourage growth and profitability.

They will provide help in the following areas:

Corporate Governance
Risk Management
Business Promotion, Acceleration and Development
Corporate Advisory Services
Information Services
Performance Evaluation Services

Community banks will be offered regulatory capital relief through its equity participation in the SDB. Community banks will form a joint back office (JBO) to address regulatory capital requirements for its participation and share ownership in the SDB. Community banks must continue fulfill capital requirements for retail banking and other lines of business in accordance with regulatory requirements of its governing agency. State regulatory agencies relating to SME banking regulation, enforcement and inspection would conform to a unified national banking regulatory agency.

Community banks will share in the equity appreciation of the SME and any distributions, dividends or corporate actions the Board of the SDB effects. The differentiation of credit and equity capital participation will be accounted for at the SDB level. Administrators for hedge funds and other Alternative Investment Vehicles have developed sophisticated partnership and shareholding accounting capabilities that can address questions of share class ownership, tranche construction and attributes, asset valuation, distributions and returns.

The community bank in working in conjunction with the SDB will help SME’s effectively manage risk, improve stakeholder communication, implement effective corporate governance that create sustainable business practices to assure long term profitability and growth.

The Hamilton Plan lays the foundation for SMEs to seize market opportunities. SMEs in partnership with community bankers must assess products and markets, business functions and critical success factors. Sufficiently capitalized by the SDB, the SME and local bankers will execute an action plan to support the corporate mission in line with the larger goals of The Hamilton Plan to build wealth for its shareholders and assure the future prosperity of America.

Song: Average White Band: Work To Do

Risk: manufacturing, small and mid-size business, global competitiveness, middle class, national prosperity

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Hamilton Plan, hedge funds, manufacturing, Millennium Development Goals, pop, recession, SME | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Hamilton Plan: Reindustrialization of America

Photograph By Anthony Augustine



Sum2 Announces

The Hamilton Plan:

A Ten Point Program to Develop

Small and Mid-Size Enterprise (SME) Manufactures

Great Falls Festival

Paterson NJ, Labor Day 2008

Sum2 is proud to be participating again in this year’s historic Great Falls Festival and is pleased to announce The Hamilton Plan, a ten point program to develop small and mid-size enterprise (SME) manufactures. The Paterson Great Falls Festival is the perfect opportunity for Sum2 to invite business owners and executives, industry associations, chambers of commerce, banks, capital market participants, labor unions, academia, non-profit organizations and governmental institutions to join forces in a concerted effort to support the reestablishment of the manufacturing infrastructure of the United States.

“Many of the economic, political and cultural challenges confronting the United States can be traced back to the dismantling of our industrial and manufacturing base” stated James McCallum President of Sum2. “Since the 1980’s America’s economic infrastructure has dramatically changed. The evolution of our economy to service oriented businesses has seriously eroded the manufacturing capabilities and industrial capacity of our country. This has produced a decline of higher wage paying jobs, the disincentive to develop innovative manufacturing methods and practices, deteriorating support infrastructure and the impairment of ancillary support businesses.

It’s in the vital national interest for institutions representing business, labor, communities and government cooperate to foster optimal conditions to incubate and develop SME manufactures. The SME segment is the largest most vibrant sector of our economy and by combining the entrepreneurial drive and creative energy of SME’s with our pressing need for innovative manufactures; America can reestablish its ascendancy as a preeminent power in the global economy. Sum2’s Hamilton Plan is designed to encourage the formation of support clusters to develop SME manufacturing.

The Hamilton Plan

1. WBC Standards for Sustainable Business Model
2. Establish Incubators for Targeted Growth Industries
3. Adopt Sound Governance, Risk, Compliance Practices (GRC)
4. Form SME Development Bank / Private Equity Capital Formation Initiatives
5. Partnership Lyceums for Government / Business / Academic Institutions
6. Labor Unions as Preferred Stakeholder / Association Syndication Unions
7. Establish Cooperatives for Technology / Licensing / Commodity / Energy
8. Superfund for Progressive Tax Code / Universal Health & Benefits /
Infrastructure / Brownfield Remediation and Reclamation
9. Expand Public Education Funding & SME COOP Program
10. Support Millennium Development Goals

Historical Significance of Paterson’s Great Falls

Paterson’s Great Falls Festival is an ideal venue to announce the Hamilton Plan. The Friends of the Great Falls website writes that in 1791, Alexander Hamilton and a group of investors created the S.U.M., the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, to harness the tremendous power of the Passaic Great Falls. It was the boldest private enterprise ever conceived in the early days of the United States. Hamilton envisioned an industrialized America and the creation of this raceway system was his ambitious example of how corporations could be organized to develop manufacturing on a large scale. With this enterprise, along with the law, finance and incentives he put in place as the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasurer, Hamilton forged the basis of American capitalism. The planned industrialization of this historic place is the realization of the Hamiltonian vision of an industrialized America. This is truly a founding father’s site.

Sum2 Sound Practice Thought Leader

Sum2’s announcement of the Hamilton Plan is in response to the compounding economic and political crisis that is confronting the United States. The credit and energy crisis, inflation pressures, trade deficits, geo-political instabilities, global warming and ecological degradation are the result of long term systemic problems that government and industry has failed to address effectively. Sum2 advocates the adoption of the program to squarely address these pressing issues with the full understanding that it will require the concerted cooperation of all stakeholders to assure the continued development, security and prosperity of America.

Sum2 offers a series of products and services to help SME’s effectively manage risk, improve stakeholder communication, implement effective corporate governance that create sustainable business practices to assure long term profitability and growth.

At last years Great Falls Festival, Sum2 announced its new product series the SMB|360°. Since that announcement the series has expended to include, the Profit|Optimizer and a soon to be announced premium product that that will expand the breath and depth of the SMB|360° product series.

The Profit|Optimizer is a qualitative risk assessment and opportunity discover tool. It assists SME’s to identify and score business vulnerabilities and opportunities. The Profit|Optimizer conducts over 200 assessments encompassing products and markets, business functions and critical success factors. The Profit|Optimizer aggregates assessment scores and presents initiatives on a series of dashboards that allows business managers to decide what action items mitigates the greatest risk and produces the greatest return. Managers can make informed capital allocation decisions to build profitability and maintain business growth.

The Profit|Optimizer demonstrates to shareholders, bankers and other stakeholders that company management are effective risk managers that are committed to practicing corporate governance excellence.

Sum2 also offers the award winning PACO™ (Patriot Act Compliance Officer). PACO™ helps financial services companies comply with the anti-money laundering provision of the Patriot Act.

About Sum2

Sum2 was founded in 2002 to promote the commercial application of sound practice programs. Sum2’s sound practice program addresses risk management, corporate governance, shareholder communications and regulatory compliance. Sum2’s objective is to assist businesses and industries to implement corporate sound practices that add exponential value for stakeholders, employees, customers and to be exemplary citizens within the communities in which they operate and serve.

Sum2 manufactures, aggregates, packages and distributes innovative digital data content products to selected channels and markets.

Music: Billy Joels Allentown

Risk: unemployment, urban decay, global competitiveness, national security, protection of middle class

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Hamilton Plan, manufacturing, pop, recession, SME, Sum2 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reinventing Community Banks

Community Banks have been profoundly affected by the current crisis in the credit markets. Many will need to reposition their market focus and adopt innovative growth strategies to build its capital base and sustain profitability if they wish to remain independent.

Community banks have confronted drastic market challenges in the not to distant past. During the 90’s community banks dominance of the small and mid-size enterprise (SME) market began to erode. The dynamics of the banking industry changed rapidly. Large money center and regional banks leveraged technology, operational and balance sheet scale to provide access to inexpensive credit products bundled with cash management tools. They were armed with huge marketing budgets and became adept at selling a growing array of transaction services that met the growing sophistication and business needs of the lucrative SME market. The current banking crisis forebodes yet another drastic alteration in the structure, regulatory and businesses practices of the industry. The current banking crisis will forever alter the face and scope of community banking sector.

The challenge for the community bank will to reinvent itself. Community banks must decide who its customers are and target the market with focused precision. Community banks need to recognize its strength by leveraging its natural geographic advantages and sell products into markets that transcend local limitations. Community banks need to offer products that help SMEs manage cash flow and liquidity, make informed decisions on capital allocation initiatives, decrease cost of capital and products that facilitates transactions and fosters new customer acquisition.

Community banks must also begin to farm new liquidity pools. Securing funding sources in a world of limited liquidity will be the greatest challenge for community banks. Overcoming regulatory hurdles notwithstanding, branding community banks as a consistent, trusted and efficient delivery channel of credit products is an important ingredient for its survival. The community bank must recognize how it adds value in a complex and expanding delivery chain. The failure to secure funding sources will only accelerate balance sheet erosion that results in merging with another institution or liquidation.

The community bank must assure its funding sources, equity holders and regulators that it truly knows and understands its customer’s market and growth potential. This KYC goes deeper then determining an acceptable FICO score, Federal ID verification and passing an OFAC screen. Employing risk management and opportunity discovery exercises with SME prospects and clients are principal business drivers that provide critical disclosure information to funding sources that address risk aversion concerns.

Funding sources and other stakeholders must be secure in the knowledge that the community banker understands the peculiar risk characteristics of the SME’s strategy, business model and governance and risk management acumen to provide investors and lenders exceptional returns on investment capital and lines of credit. The banker then becomes an effective risk manager whose vigilance and considered business judgment provides a fair return to funding sources, assures regulators that capital ratios remain strong and reward shareholders with appreciating equity valuations.

Community banks are just one of the many expanding choices an SME has to provide banking and financing services. Community banks must create a compelling brand identity and articulate a differentiated value proposition with focused product marketing to regain its market dominance with SMEs.

You Tube Video: The Beatles, Money

Risk: Credit, Market, Banking, Small Business, Recession, Marketing,

May 30, 2008 Posted by | banking, credit crisis, rock, SME | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capital Formation for SMB’s

CFO magazine ran an interesting but brief article on SEC plan to encourage and assist capital formation for small mid-size businesses (SMB’s).

In light of all the gyrations in the credit markets and the rush to aid investment and money center banks (see Risk Rap Post 4/10/08, SMB’s TBTF), it is heartening to know that the capital needs of our country’s most important economic sector is not being over looked by the government regulatory bodies.

The access to capital is critical for small businesses. The SEC plan to expand capital access to the segment will help SMBs cope with stringent credit policies, the effects of the economic downturn and the pressure on asset valuations due to the falling real estate and public equity markets.

An interesting side light to this initiative will be how community banks and private equity firms position themselves to take advantage of this SEC initiative. It bears watching and this could be an important program to align the interests of cash rich private equity firms and capital stressed community banks.

We’ll post more on this subject in the future.

Risk: SMB, Regulatory, Private Equity, Community Banks, Market, Credit

May 10, 2008 Posted by | banking, credit crisis, hedge funds, private equity, SME | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SME TBTF

SMEs are too big to fail (TBTF)

During last weeks Senate Banking Committee meeting with Bernanke and the Treasury Under Secretary, Chairman Dodd made an interesting almost off hand comment on the Feds move to pump liquidity into the credit markets. To paraphrase Dodd, he observed that the liquidity being pumped into the markets is going to prop up the capital ratios and balance sheets of banks. Its not like its going to small businesses.”

He said it. Or something along those lines.

Give us credit (pardon the pun), we are astute enough to know that if bank’s have a strong balance sheet they will be in a position to provide credit and other funding products to small and mid-size businesses (SME). But Chairman Dodd raises a sore subject that will certainly command much more attention as the banking crisis continues to play itself out.

Little has been said about the impact of the crisis on SME’s. But if you measure the extent of SMEs contribution to the nations economic development, job and wealth creation and as a principal source of tax revenue the needs of SMEs must be a central tenet of any proposed recovery strategy.

As the banking sector realigns and reconfigures this is a great opportunity for community banks to fill this pressing need.

Risk: SME, Banking, Community Banks, Credit, Political

You Tube Video: Lightnin’ Hopkins, My Starter Won’t Start This Mornin

April 11, 2008 Posted by | banking, credit crisis, SME | , , , , , , | Leave a comment