Saturday, June 6, 2020

Oklahoma banks preach patience as Paycheck Protection Program launches

OKLAHOMA CITY — With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting communities and businesses across the state, Oklahoma banks are focused on helping as much as they can.

The Paycheck Protection Program will offer some relief to small businesses in Oklahoma as it launches on Friday, April 3. Oklahoma bankers, however, do ask for patience from the public as the program begins. Financial institutions still need guidance from federal agencies and regulators to move forward with PPP loans.

Currently, there are more questions than answers about the expectations of the federal government in the steps needed to begin issuing funds.

“Information on the (PPP) seems to change minute-by-minute as we prepare for its launch on Friday,” OBA President and CEO Roger Beverage said. “While banks are ready to start helping, it’s frustrating the businesses we want to help with the Program are made to wait while guidance is still being written.”

The good news is Oklahoma’s banks entered this pandemic from a position of strength and are well-equipped to help their communities.

The Oklahoma Bankers Association also recommends the following five things businesses can do right now:

1: Talk to your lender, if you haven’t already.
If you are experiencing or expect to experience cash flow problems, contacting your lender is the critical first step.

2: Plan for the next 3-6 months, if you haven’t already.
Many businesses we’ve heard from have sufficient funds or access to capital for the first 2-3 months. However, we don’t know how long the pandemic will last, so look ahead, both in terms of a potential lengthening of the pandemic and also in how you will handle recovery and re-opening of the business if you are currently closed.

3: Be ready to produce required information quickly to help your lender with your application.
All loan programs still require some information in order for the lender to underwrite the loan, including the ones created through the CARES Act. Be ready to produce required documentation quickly to help your lender with your application.

4: Don’t panic and draw on lines of credit unnecessarily.
There is plenty of liquidity in the system (unlike the financial crisis in 2008) so don’t panic and draw on lines of credit unnecessarily. Just like we are encouraging consumers to keep excess cash in insured financial institutions, keep the lines of credit intact until you absolutely need to access them. There may be costs associated with accessing those funds and if you don’t need to incur the added expense, don’t.

5: Have patience.
The banking industry wants to help you through these unprecedented times, but not all programs are in place yet, and even when they are, technology can cause hiccups or delays (e.g. systems crashing).