Top Takeaways from Our Fireside Chat with First Horizon SVP Courtney Taylor on PPP Originations and Forgiveness

Sal Trifilio

September 09, 2020

[9-8] Weekly Insights Q&A-First-Horizon

When it comes to business and commercial banking, few people know the lending process better than Courtney Taylor, First Horizon Bank’s SVP of business banking.

Over the last 14 years, Courtney has touched almost every facet of business and commercial lending at the 155-year-old financial institution and most recently took over consumer loan products.

“It’s my passion,” she said, “and it’s something I’ve kind of stumbled upon … and have grown to love it so much recently.”

Part of that love affair with business banking comes from her experience with the Paycheck Protection Program.

Since March, Courtney has been focused on First Horizon’s strategy and execution on PPP Originations and Forgiveness, and was instrumental in helping more than 14,500 customers get approved for PPP loans totaling $1.9B.

On Tuesday, Sep. 8, our insights team sat down with Courtney to discuss her and her institution’s experience with PPP during a special edition of our Weekly Tuesday Q&A sessions.

Here are some of the top takeaways from our fireside chat with Courtney:

  • Technology is critical to scaling. “We actually started accepting applications in a very manual process,” Courtney explained. “So, in a very short period of time, we saw the minute we opened our doors to accepting applications the demand to be tremendous. And we also saw internally what that does to us from a process perspective.” According to Courtney it quickly became clear to her and her team that they would be unable to support their borrowers and maintain an exceptional customer experience if they continued to manually process PPP applications. “So we did probably a set of roughly 15,000 loans total for origination,” she said. “We did roughly 5,000 in a manual process before standing up Numerated, which allowed us to bulk about 10,000 PPP loans in a mere matter of 60, 90 days.”
  • Unpredictable demand can be managed with the right technology. “One of the biggest things that we had to strongly consider as we planned for Forgiveness with a technological solution is how we're going to be able to manage the volume given that to be an area that we can't control,” Courtney said. Unlike Originations, which she called a “mad rush, high demand” event, “Forgiveness is an elongated process … banking institutions can't predict or proactively expect how much, and how many applications you're gonna get.” The only way they would be able to properly manage random fluctuations in demand would be by equipping their teams with the right technology. It’s a key reason they decided to expand their use of the Numerated Platform for Forgiveness.
  • Everything is about the customer experience. First Horizon was one of the first federally chartered banks in Memphis, Tennessee and has always been a cornerstone of the communities they serve across 11 states. For them, relationship banking is key to success--and one of the things most threatened by the pandemic. When they realized a manual-only approach to PPP would be unsustainable, they picked Numerated as the vendor that could best help them scale the great experience they had already started. According to Courtney, “with Numerated’s ability to be able to also service any additional loans that might not have originated on platform, it really made the decision easy for us, since we could easily accommodate those that we had to do off platform and through that manual fashion prior to standing up the platform. We also were able to incorporate a number of different technological solutions that we were able to, or at least plan to replicate throughout the Forgiveness process as well and everything from leveraging internal robotics.” All in all, this is what gave First Horizon what they needed to maintain their customer experience throughout PPP Originations and into Forgiveness.
  • A phased approach is possible, even under the pressures of a pandemic. Believe it or not, even after the SBA has officially begun accepting PPP Forgiveness applications, lenders and borrowers still have questions about things like “automatic Forgiveness.” Courtney and her team have been as plugged into news from Congress and the SBA as ever, and they’re educating their borrowers as much as they possibly can on the Forgiveness process. It’s created a very prepared customer base that’s eager to get their Forgiveness applications started--but First Horizon has decided to implement a phased approach instead. This phased approach has allowed First Horizon to do extensive user testing--with real-world borrowers--and therefore implement a best-in-class training process throughout every level of the bank. This has helped them ensure to their borrowers that they’ll have a successful Forgiveness experience. Courtney and her team have combined that with exceptional communication to their borrowers to ensure the best process is rolled out.

Courtney’s unique perspective from her role inside First Horizon provides important perspective for banks and credit unions that have participated in PPP and are working through Forgiveness strategies. But the takeaways above are just a small portion of our conversation with her.

Watch the 30-min on-demand webinar above to get a detailed look at First Horizon’s phased approach to rolling out technology and to learn more about how they conduct user testing to provide an exceptional customer experience.

For more content like this register for one of our upcoming Weekly Tuesday Q&A sessions or Weekly Friday Platform Demos.

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