3 Takeaways from Pinnacle CIO Randy Withrow on PPP Originations and Forgiveness

Sal Trifilio

Sal Trifilio

September 03, 2020

You can say that Pinnacle Financial Partners’ CIO Randy Withrow has seen it all.

As just the fourth person hired by Pinnacle, Randy started at the growing financial institution before it was officially launched at the turn of the millennium. In the more than two decades since, Randy’s admittedly worn many hats at the institution during its climb to $33B in assets and some 114 banking centers across Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia.

“We actually opened our doors with just 34 associates,” Raid said, “and we have well over 2,000 today.”

But even with his depth of experience, Randy--like the rest of us--had never seen anything comparable to the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the nation since March. With states forcing businesses to shut down and mandating social distancing guidelines, every bank and credit union faced the same unprecedented challenge of continuing to serve their communities in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

As the nation grappled with the crisis, Congress worked quickly to pass the Paycheck Protection Program and, likewise, Randy and Pinnacle worked equally as quickly to figure out how they would continue to serve the small businesses in their communities.

During the Paycheck Protection Program, Pinnacle leveraged Numerated's platform to successfully submit PPP applications for more than 14,000 business customers. Today, they continue to leverage the Numerated Platform to process their customers' PPP Forgiveness Applications.

On Tuesday, Sep. 1, Randy joined our insights team for a special edition of our Weekly Tuesday Q&A sessions, where he participated in a fireside chat on PPP Originations and Forgiveness, and answered some live questions from attendees.

Here are three of the top takeaways from our discussion with Randy:

  • Focus on the borrower experience. At the height of PPP we spoke to over a thousand banks and credit unions and saw a wide range of strategies being developed and deployed. According to Randy, Pinnacle’s primary focus--and a key to their success during the Program--was to focus on providing an exceptional borrower experience. A tough task, considering the situation PPP borrowers are in. During our talk with Randy, he explained in detail how Pinnacle mobilized the whole of their financial institution around this goal, and how technology played an integral part in meeting it. Particularly, he noted that it would have been impossible for them, or any institution, to handle the massive scale of the Program without at least some technological assistance. Through the use of Numerated’s platform and the institution’s focus on the borrower experience, Pinnacle was able to successfully submit more than $2.4B in PPP applications for their borrowers.
  • Take advantage of every feature technology provides you. Once Pinnacle made the decision to invest in technology to aid in their PPP effort, it was up to Randy and his team to determine how to get the most out of it for the institution. During our conversation, Randy stressed the importance that platform owners understand the ins and outs of the tools they’re deploying and to take advantage of every feature available. For him, the extensive data capabilities Numerated offered helped Randy and his team prep borrowers for Forgiveness even before the SBA officially began accepting applications. This allowed them to submit applications to the SBA on Day One, giving them a head start on the process. Further, Numerated’s self-service feature allowed Randy and his team to expand the ways in which borrowers submitted their Forgiveness applications—on their own, or with the assistance of a Financial Advisor.
  • Data, data, data is the key to success. Having successfully secured PPP loans for tens of thousands of borrowers, Randy said that Pinnacle similarly looked to bring on technology for the Forgiveness portion of the Program. And, like with PPP originations, the technology selection process for a Forgiveness platform needed to be faster than in pre-pandemic times. The determining factor in his selection, he said, was the approach to data each technology provider was offering. “As I've said before, anybody can build a workflow tool, but, the biggest thing [with Numerated] is data, data, data,” Randy explained. Features like Numerated’s Loan Validation Report uniquely allow lenders to leverage the SBA API to identify data inconsistencies between the data our platform has and the data the SBA has on file. This has allowed lenders using our platform to find discrepancies before they can cause an error and therefore provide an exceptionally smooth Forgiveness experience. At the time of our conversation, Randy reported that Pinnacle has already successfully submitted more than 700 Forgiveness applications to the SBA for approval.

These takeaways, while important, only capture a snapshot of our fireside chat. Watch the 30-min on-demand webinar above to learn more about how Pinnacle approached and launched PPP originations, how the institution uses financial advisors in conjunction with the Numerated Platform, the importance of data for success, and much more.

For more content like this register for one of our upcoming Insights Sessions.

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