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BankLabs

Construction Executive: Automate The Entire Construction Loan Process

By | Article

In today’s digital world, instant gratification is not only desired but expected. People expect to click a button and be able to pay bills online, schedule an appointment and receive texts to refill a prescription. Our patience has declined, and with it has come a pressing need for automation in all aspects of our lives.

One sector that has been slow to catch on to the automation obsession is the construction industry, particularly construction lending. For too long, builders and contractors were using computer spreadsheets, creating draw sheets by hand and emailing confidential documents to inspectors. Needless to say, this needed to change and the industry is finally using technology that automates these processes.  

AUTOMATING CONSTRUCTION LENDING

Commercial developers, general contractors and residential home builders have started working with lenders who use innovative technology to automate the post-closing administration of construction loans. Accessible from any phone, tablet or computer, this technology eliminates the need for paper files and spreadsheets, lets the developer check on the status from any device and improves the experience for the developer, lender and borrower. People are making better business decisions enabled by real-time text messages showing draw availability and areas of risk.

The best solutions reduce loan administration time by 50 percent or more, lower inspection costs, identify and mitigate potential risks and enhance working relationships through mobile access.

This part of the construction industry has come a long way, but what about the other side of the construction loan process? While lenders and developers are being offered innovative technology to help automate their business, contractors are still working in the dark ages.

HOLISTIC AUTOMATION

For instance, builders continue to pay their subcontractors via paper checks, after collecting paper invoices and paper lien waivers. The subcontractor must then drive to pick up the check, deposit it and wait days for funds availability. In addition, builders are completing 1099 tax forms and other reporting material by hand, which can be difficult and time-consuming.

For these reasons, construction developers, builders and contractors must partner with lenders who are not only using technology to automate the post-close administration of loans, but those who understand that the entire payment process must be automated to be most effective.

Desirable lenders are typically community banks that have implemented new technology to complement the automation tools they are currently using. The new solution is ideally a mobile and web-based service that automates the construction payment stream with electronic submittal of lien waivers and invoices from subcontractors to the builder. This is coupled with electronic payments using same-day ACH that replace checks, much like online bill pay that has made our personal lives easier.

In short, payments are made faster and more reliably. Builders are able to pay their subcontractors instantly, enabling them to focus on building and saving the subcontractors significant amounts of time and frustration. With a more efficient payment process, everyone can concentrate on what they have been hired to do.

Implementing this technology also increases transparency in the payment stream process and reduces unnecessary friction between builders and subcontractors. With mobile access, it is easy to log into the system while on the construction site to check for any errors and assess the status of projects. Subcontractors have all of their payment questions answered by checking their phone, which eases the burden of manual interactions with the builder.

Also, it is safe to say that the best contractors look to work with the best developers, and the best developers try to seek out the best lenders.

Using technology to automate the post-close administration of construction loans is important, but now is the time to take automation a step further. By working with lenders who are also using an automated payment stream tool, construction professionals can speed cycle times and payments, improve communication and focus on their important work at hand.

Written by Matt Johnner – President and Co-founder, BankLabs

BankLabs is a national provider of innovative mobile technology products that help community banks improve efficiency, differentiate with customers, create new fee income, increase deposits and create marketplace options that expand business opportunities. BankLabs believes that community banking is a way of doing business, not a size.

 

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BankLabs Chooses William Mills Agency for Public Relations Services

By | Press Release

William Mills Agency, the largest independent public relations and content marketing firm specializing in the financial industry, announced today that it will provide PR services to BankLabs. BankLabs is a national provider of innovative mobile technology products helping community banks improve efficiency, increase time for relationships with customers and create marketplace options that expand business opportunities.

With offices in both Dallas and Little Rock, Ark., BankLabs has bank customers in 28 states and two countries, as well as development consortiums to facilitate development with bank partners. BankLabs’ CEO and Co-Founder Mike Montgomery uses 40 years of banking experience to cultivate innovative banking technology products.

BankLabs’ latest product, Construct®, is a web-based product that automates the construction loan management process for community banks. It’s paperless, accessible from any mobile device or computer, drives productivity and modernizes the experience for all parties involved.

The company also offers OREO (Other Real Estate Owned) Automation®, enabling community banks to quickly sell OREO properties by automating and tracking property details, inspection history, appraisals and payments. These transactions are secure, fully automated and provide examiners with an easily reviewable, paperless audit trail.

“WMA’s public relations strategy will support BankLabs in solidifying our position as a leader in providing community bankers with the tools they need to compete in today’s market,” said Matt Johnner, president and co-founder of BankLabs. “With our deep understanding of community banking and the agency’s overall industry knowledge and relationships, we’re enthusiastic about working with them to promote our mission.”

“William Mills Agency has built our reputation by helping our clients improve brand awareness and establish themselves as industry thought leaders through strategic, balanced public relations programs,” said William Mills III, CEO of William Mills Agency. “It’s a privilege to be selected as BankLabs’ agency of record (AOR), and we look forward to helping them communicate to community banks that can benefit from their services.”

About BankLabs
BankLabs was created by community bankers, for community bankers. The company designs innovative mobile technology products that help community banks improve efficiency, increase time for relationships and create fintech marketplace options that expand business opportunities outside their traditional local market. BankLabs couples the fundamental banking experience with modern, mobile-first, banker-first approaches to product design. The company is committed to the pursuit of creating web-based mobile apps to deliver competitive advantages to community banks. For more information, please visit www.banklabs.com.

About William Mills Agency
Founded in 1977, the Atlanta-based company has established its reputation in the industry through successful execution of media relations, marketing services and crisis communication campaigns for hundreds of companies ranging in size from entrepreneurial start-ups to large, publicly traded corporations throughout North America, Europe, Africa and India. For more information, please visit www.williammills.com.

BankLabs Signs 50th Bank to Utilize Construct

By | Press Release

BankLabs, a national provider of innovative mobile technology products for community banks, today announced the 50th bank to go-live with Construct, the cloud-based construction loan management product for lenders and their borrowers, builders and inspectors.

“In today’s technology-driven world, we wanted to provide an easy-to-use, web-based service to take the place of cumbersome spreadsheets and paper files. The importance of mobility continues to grow to differentiate the financial institution.”

Construct is a banker-centric, web-based service that automates the post-close administration of construction loans for lenders. Accessible from any phone, tablet or computer, it eliminates the need for paper files and spreadsheets, increases bank productivity, mitigates the risk of overfunding projects and improves the experience for both the builder and borrower.

Using Construct, a builder is able to view available funds via computer or mobile device and submit a draw request. Notifications are then sent via text or email to the inspector, borrower and bank personnel. The inspector takes pictures, enters notes and updates the percent complete via phone or tablet. Without the need for spreadsheets, the correct draw amount is automatically calculated and can be instantly viewed by the banker, borrower and builder along with inspection details, documents and photos. Reports are then automatically generated based on real-time data.

Construct has proven to reduce loan administration time by 50 percent, lower inspection costs, identify and mitigate potential risks and enhance the borrower/builder relationship through mobile access. Financial institutions using Construct have already seen an eight to 12 percent draw interest improvement, as well as a decrease in cycle time from days or weeks to minutes.

“Construct completely automates the traditionally manual loan administration, inspection and draw process, making life easier for the bank, builder and borrower using real-time workflow and proactive next step tracking,” said Matt Johnner, president and co-founder of BankLabs. “In today’s technology-driven world, we wanted to provide an easy-to-use, web-based service to take the place of cumbersome spreadsheets and paper files. The importance of mobility continues to grow to differentiate the financial institution.”

About BankLabs

BankLabs is a national provider of innovative mobile technology products that help community banks improve efficiency, increase time for relationships with customers and create marketplace options that expand business opportunities. BankLabs believes that community banking is a way of doing business, not a size. For more information, visit www.banklabs.com.

 

Media Contact

For BankLabs
Catherine Mootz, 678-781-7227
cmootz@williammills.com

Dallas Innovates: Startup Helps ‘Level the Playing Field’ for Community Banks

By | Article

A startup that provides innovative technology to community banks is revolutionizing the process for making construction loans while also arming the institutions with another weapon against their biggest competitors — FinTechs and large multinational banks.

BankLabs, which is equally based in Dallas and Little Rock, was formed as part of Radius Group, a Little Rock, Arkansas holding company, in January 2016. It immediately hit the market with Construct, it’s appropriately named product that enables banks to automate the construction loan process.

BankLabs describes the current procedure used by most banks as a “noisy process” involving spreadsheets, paper files, and emails, creating “unnecessary delays and wasted opportunities to increase profit and enhance customer relationships.” By switching to the Construct app, BankLabs President Matt Johnner of Dallas said banks can improve efficiency by 50 percent.

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FinTech Can’t Beat Community Banks

By | Blog

My team and I have been called contrarian, which we will take as a compliment; we believe that the best community banks will beat the best FinTech players. Best on best so to speak.

Why do we feel this way?

Because, FinTech cannot win against modern community banks that combine their in-market, relationship-based banking with progressive technology.

To start, we define things a bit differently than most…

Community Bank(ing): ‘It is a way of doing business, not a size. It is about in-market, relationship-based banking.’

Progressive Technology: ‘Mobile-first products built to be banker-first (not bank) to enhance customer relationships, plus, marketplace technology that expands loan opportunities.’

BankLabs‘ ‘why’ is to ensure the survival and growth of community banks. Traditional financial institutions and the companies that have historically served them face disruption like never before. There are approximately 2,400 FinTech companies hunting for success and community banking customers are in their crosshairs.

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BankLabs Wins 2017 FinTech Breakthrough Award for Best Consumer Banking Mobile App

By | Award

BankLabs has been awarded the 2017 FinTech Breakthrough for “Best Consumer Banking Mobile App.” FinTech Breakthrough is an independent organization dedicated to helping the best financial services and technology products and companies “Break Through” the crowded FinTech industry. The FinTech Breakthrough Awards recognize the top companies and products in the financial services and technology industry today. View the full list of winners here.

 

Beginnings and Endings in Banking and FinTech

By | Blog

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus was the god of beginnings and transitions, doorways and endings. Considered to be one of the most important Roman gods, Janus was often depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions, the past and the future.

This is a great metaphor for what FinTech is not just doing to, but also for regional and community banks… Much like Janus has two faces that represent beginnings and endings; FinTech has unknowingly created a Face of Opportunity for progressive banks looking towards the future, not just the Face of Doom that most have latched onto.

FinTech has technology, easy processes and speed. But now some progressive community banks are deploying mobility technology to get their bankers out of the office, to work with borrowers in person and for those same borrowers to use the mobile technology to get money faster and easier. Community banks are winning this battle now because they can combine the new Mobile Technology + In-market relationship-based banking whereas FinTech just has the tech.

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Sarbanes-Oxley, Construction Lending, and the “Stone Age” of Spreadsheets

By | Blog

Sarbanes-Oxley mandates improving risk management and making operations more effective and efficient

Does your construction lending department manage its construction loan activities using spreadsheets? Has your bank unintentionally over-funded any construction loans? Has it been a while since you assessed the effectiveness and efficiency of your construction loan administration?

As a board member, audit committee member, or member of the internal audit group, if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, are you feeling uneasy? Well, you should be.

By now, everyone in banking considers Sarbanes-Oxley to be old news. After all, it’s been around since 2002, and virtually every bank has beefed up its internal audit capabilities to bring the bank into SOX compliance. What is not so obvious is that Sarbanes-Oxley standards also require that the bank’s internal audit activity evaluate and contribute to the improvement of the organization’s risk management, control, and governance processes. And, internal audit activities must be designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the “effectiveness and efficiency of operations”.

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American Banker: Can Technology Make Construction Loans Less Risky?

By | Article

As featured in American Banker.

Lending to developers and builders is community bankers’ bailiwick … and sometimes their bane.

In good times construction lending keeps community banks thriving, but the financial crisis of 2008 brought down hundreds of small banks because they were heavily exposed to commercial real estate.

Perhaps there is a tech solution to avoid or soften the bad times, some fintech vendors say. Granted, no software can prevent real estate downturns, but construction lenders’ reliance on spreadsheets, file folders and sticky notes is said to add hazards. Their platforms, the vendors say, can streamline the process and make it safer.

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