While banks across the country struggle to keep up with the onslaught of loan applications from small businesses racing to access Paycheck Protection Program funds, employees at BBVA USA found a unique solution: volunteers.
More than 200 employees from across the commercial, wealth and retail lines of business -- from administrative assistants to relationship managers -- volunteered their time to help process applications for funds from the Small Business Administration as part of the CARES Act.
Demarest: "We needed to work quickly to give our customers the best shot at funding."
“Our senior leadership team identified the slow down in processing due to the enormous increase in application volume,” said Stan Demarest, director of business credit products, who has taken on the responsibility of coordinating the volunteer efforts. “We knew that, because the funds were being disbursed on a first come, first serve basis, we needed to work quickly to give our customers the best shot at funding.”
Demarest says he had employees volunteer themselves to help speed application processing, while others volunteered entire teams who were available.
The volunteers worked alongside bank teams in data entry and documentation preparation to prepare applications for submission to the SBA. A third team secured the SBA reservation numbers required to ensure funding. The combined work hours increased the bank’s capabilities by five-fold.
Demarest:"They’ve taken it upon themselves to basically learn new jobs to help BBVA’s small business customers get the funding they need during this pandemic."
“These teams are doing critical work to alleviate the bank’s application backlog,” said Demarest. “They’ve taken it upon themselves to basically learn new jobs – and do them in their spare time, nights and weekends – to help BBVA’s small business customers get the funding they need during this pandemic.”
Demarest noted that these volunteers, along with their full-time colleagues, have worked up to three weeks or longer without a day off. While some have struggled to gain needed access to critical systems or work outside their technological comfort zone, they all recognize that each application moved forward represents a small business and all the jobs that go along with it - frequently in the communities where they work, making it a highly personal endeavor.
BBVA USA consistently punches above its weight in the SBA program and is recognized as one of the leading small business lenders by the SBA, ranked 13th nationally in terms of dollar volume of SBA loans originated in fiscal year 2019.
Dobers: "I’m so proud to see my teammates and co-workers work together as one team."
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the communities we serve,” said Elizabeth Dobers, Executive Director of Business Banking for BBVA. “I’m so proud to see my teammates and co-workers work together as one team and sacrifice their personal time to help secure funding for as many customers as possible.”
Click here to read about how and why BBVA branch employees dedicated a Saturday to processing as many PPP applications as possible.
Click here to visit BBVA USA's COVID-19 Small Business Resource page.