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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Mendoza

Best Practices for Working Capital

SBA training session

Working capital. We talk about it a lot with our clients during our SBA training sessions.

It might be a discussion in one of the lender SBA training sessions we host, or a review finding, a Lender SBA Consulting question, or SBA loan liquidation work. Let’s just say that working capital comes up a lot, and there’s plenty of discussion around it!  

And since the new SOPs have changed some of the guidelines on working capital, let’s recap.

  • Working capital can have a maturity up to 10 years, but no longer.

  • That doesn't mean every working capital should get 10 year maturities. SBA states that Lenders must use the shortest loan term appropriate.  

  • So if you can reach the required 1.15:1 DSCR at seven years, then seven years would be the appropriate term.

  • Your underwriting analysis must include adequacy for working capital over the next 12 months at minimum.

  • You’d be surprised how often this analysis is performed, but then Lenders fail to discuss it in the credit memo.

  • Note that SBA has removed requirements to explain why the working capital is necessary and appropriate for the business if the amount being financed is more than 50% of the loan proceeds.

And then there’s what the SOPs don’t say, but that we’ve seen in our lender consulting services work with clients on origination, servicing, and liquidations.

  • When the SBA loan package is submitted as a non-delegated loan, we’ve seen screen-outs looking for a breakdown of what the working capital will be used for.  

This is reasonable and prudent. Applicants often bundle things into working capital that shouldn’t be there. How often have you asked, “So, what will your working capital be used for?”, only to hear, “I need to purchase computers,” or “we’ll be buying inventory in bulk to get a discount,” or even, “I need to pay off the credit card that financed our new laptops.”  

And now working capital has suddenly become equipment purchase, inventory purchase, and debt refinancing. No!

  • Remember: 

  • Working capital is defined as capital used in day-to-day business operations, such as payroll, marketing, and so on.

  • SBA requires that items acquired with loan proceeds are taken as collateral. So if you’re taking a second UCC, and working capital is being used for equipment purchase, you’re expected to get a purchase-money lien on that equipment.

  • When large amounts of working capital are funded to the Borrower in one lump sum, especially in the case of early defaults, SBA will ask: how do you know the funds were used for the business?

  • What is the Borrower saying they’re using funds for?

  • Can you find a way to monitor use? For instance, is it funds for increased payroll during an R&D project? Can you request payroll statements for this specific time period, and fund just what’s needed for the project?

Working capital is a fact of life in SBA lending. In our SBA training for lenders, we often point out that you need to approach the analysis and funding of working capital with prudence. I ask underwriters and closers, if this was their bank, the Bank of Michael or Bank of Mary, for instance, would you fund that much working capital in one disbursement? If the answer is no, then what controls would you put in place?

Finally: everyone loves a 75% guarantee, but is the client better served with an SBA Express Line of Credit with a 50% guarantee? Might they qualify for a Capline, Export Express, or Export Working Capital Program loan instead?  

Working capital is vital to the success of a business and important for us as Lenders to offer to our Borrowers – but it’s not appropriate in every situation, and, just like everything in SBA lending, it comes with guard rails and rules.

If you’re wondering about some of the working capital clients you currently serve, we’d be happy to take a look and see where you can tighten things up and be more in SBA compliance. Give us a call at 877-576-0819, or reach out through our Contact form, we’d be happy to discuss our lender consulting services with you and see what fits your needs best.


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