September 08, 2009, 1:11 PM — I talked with my friend Marsha this weekend. While the focus wasn't loans and financial statements, since she's a bank vice president and loan officer I asked about the climate today, at least for Chase Bank where she works. Short answer: money's available, but only for the organized.
Marsha focuses on small businesses in the $3 million to $5 million revenue range, including wholesale suppliers, churches, helicopter services, and an ambulance company or two. New and renewing loan customers all face the same problem: non-existent or disorganized financial statements.
When money was flowing and the economy strong, her customers just needed last year's tax return and a couple of notes about any substantial changes to their business. Today, that's not enough. With the economy swinging up and down (mostly down) so wildly, too much has changed since last December for banks to trust just the tax return.
In fact, bank underwriters now need clean financial statements. This comes as a real shock to some of Marsha's customers. Many of them haven't reconciled their QuickBooks accounting software for years and years. Many of them have the owner's wife or daughter, with no accounting experience, running the books. Those people are not getting the money they need.
Before you talk to your version of Marsha at your bank, spend the time to get real financial statements. Hire a bookkeeper or CPA if necessary. Yes, that costs more than you generally like to spend, but it's worth it. No clean financial statements mean your bank will say no to your loan request.