Executive Vice President, Corporate Banking
NerdWallet ("NW"): Please describe your bank and its unique difference.
Bill Maeglin, Executive Vice President, Corporate Banking at Univest (“BM”): Many banks fall in the community bank category. They all promote their high level of service and their local decision-making as benefits to local small businesses. What makes Univest unique is that we are able to combine the benefits of being a local, high service bank with a surprisingly progressive amount of technology that business owners can use to improve the efficiency of their day-to-day banking. Small business owners want to know that their bankers know them personally and are there for them when a problem needs solving. But then they also want the convenience to do their banking on a small business-person’s hours – late at night, on weekends, etc. With our technology offerings, our customers can scan in their checks after hours and not worry about making a deposit before the branch closes. With features such as lockbox deposit services, bank statements by CD-ROM, or remote check scanning, we can make the small business owner’s banking much simpler to manage.
I also like to think of our “unique difference” this way: If you look up “community bank” in the dictionary, you’ll find the Univest logo. Of course, that’s not literally true, but I believe Univest represents what a true community bank should be. For 137 years, we have differentiated ourselves by making it a priority to give back to the communities we serve. Our Mission Statement states that “Our purpose and philosophy is to be a strong, influential leader in the markets we choose to serve;” that we will “maintain an active role in our communities;” and that we will “build loyal relationships with our customers and employees.” And “Community” is one of our five core values. Our philanthropic work in the community is a good example. In 2012, Univest employees volunteered more than 13,500 hours to local nonprofit organizations. And over the course of the year, Univest provided more than $1.1 million to hundreds of local, nonprofit organizations in Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties and the Lehigh Valley.
NW: Please provide some background on your history as a small business lender.
BM: Prior to joining the bank, I worked for a county economic development agency, providing a variety of assistance to local companies that were growing and adding jobs for the economy. In that role, I learned to view the issues that business owners face as being far more comprehensive than basic banking and borrowing. Small business owners in particular must wear many, many hats every day. Making sure their businesses have enough cash flow to keep going is one of their biggest concerns. But so are things like finding the right employees, learning how to plan strategically, keeping on top of changing regulations and tax policies, the growing impact of competition, and much more. A business owner who wears many hats needs a banker who appreciates all of those hats, too.
NW: What is the role that your bank plays in the small business lending space?
BM: Univest is a preferred SBA lender, and we are one of the more active lenders in the Philadelphia region, regularly ranking among the top SBA lenders.
NW: How do you connect with small business owners in your community?
BM: Our reputation as a preferred SBA lender that frequently says “yes” when other financial institutions say “no” precedes us. But, as I mentioned, Univest is very involved in the community, with our employees leading and participating in various boards, committees and volunteering at a variety of events. Our communities, including small business owners, know us because we are a constant presence in the life of our local neighborhoods.
NW: How has small business lending changed in your lifetime and how do you see it evolving in the near future?
BM: In general, banking used to be much more of a “handshake” business between the customer and the bank. Today, our industry is more heavily regulated and business customers of all sizes are affected by the increased documentation required approving and settling any loan. As a result, many larger banks treat small business banking as a highly-automated process. Unfortunately, in these black and white scenarios – businesses either fit in the box or don’t. At Univest, we always make it a priority to get to know our customers and often this makes our approach much less black and white. We often work in the gray after listening, getting an understanding of the full picture and then truly evaluating the opportunities versus the risks.
NW: What advice would you give a small business owner?
BM: Money is a commodity, but relationships are custom-built over time. Surround yourself with a great team of advisors that you can trust and rely on for sound advice and guidance. And finally, don’t settle for a bank that doesn’t take the time to get to know you, your business, and your goals.