Fundation Purchases Select Assets from Able Lending to Enhance Partnership Strategy

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fundation Group LLC, a leading digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider, today announced that it has acquired a variety of assets from online small business lender, Able Lending of Austin, Texas.

“Able should be commended for developing some exceptional technology. The addition of these assets to our platform will further strengthen the value we bring to our bank partners and other strategic partners.”

Fundation develops a wide array of strategic partnerships with banks, other financial institutions, and various service providers to the small business market to deliver value added credit products to their small business client base. This acquisition is intended to enhance the scope of services that Fundation provides to its strategic partners, with enhanced capability for demand generation and customer acquisition.

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation said, “Able should be commended for developing some exceptional technology. The addition of these assets to our platform will further strengthen the value we bring to our bank partners and other strategic partners.”

About Fundation

Fundation Group LLC is a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider. The Company develops integrated small business lending solutions with banks, enabling them to deliver credit online, drive cost efficiency into their lending programs, and maximize customer retention by providing a positive customer experience and meeting the needs of the small businesses they serve. The Company also partners with a variety of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver small balance commercial credit products. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

Contacts

Fundation
Media
Barry Feierstein, 571-418-6387
Barry.Feierstein@fundation.com


Citizens Digitizes SMB Lending Process With Fundation

By PYMNTS Posted on November 3, 2017

www.pymnts.com

Citizens Bank is enhancing its small and medium-sized business (SMB) lending offering by digitizing the loan application process, according to a press release published by the financial institution (FI) on Thursday (Nov. 2).

The bank is launching a new platform, built in collaboration with alternative online lender Fundation, allowing SMB customers of the bank to apply for a loan or line of credit and receive an approval online. Citizens said that, in “most cases,” applicants are informed of a decision the same business day and receive funds within three business days.

“We understand that our small business customers are busy running their businesses and serving customers, so there’s little time left for lengthy [loan] applications, documentation, meetings and waiting for answers,” said Citizens Bank president of business banking Jack Murphy in a statement. “With our new digital lending technology, we have simplified the process of applying to smaller credit requests and are making it possible for more businesses to access the credit they need online, with rapid decision making and funding.”

Fundation has struck other partnerships with traditional FIs, and spoken out about the value it sees in collaborating with traditional FIs, telling PYMNTS in 2015 that such partnerships are “a great conversation point in our industry.”

“We are trying to really work to build a solution that exists right on a bank’s homepage, so we can really partner to get the customer into the right product,” said Fundation CEO Sam Graziano at the time.

In another statement issued Thursday, Graziano again emphasized the effectiveness of bank-FinTech collaborations.

“We believe what Citizens Bank has created is the ideal model of how to leverage the collective strengths of a digitally minded bank with a digital solutions company like Fundation,” he said. “The results are already showing that the bank will be able to reward a broad array of small businesses with the type of borrowing experience they are coming to expect from best-in-class financial services companies.”


Park Bank Announces Expansion of Small Business Lending Efforts

PRESS RELEASE

Park Bank Announces Expansion of Small Business Lending Efforts

Provides Greater Opportunity for Park Bank to Serve Small Businesses in the Community

Offers Simple Loan Terms, Quick Application Process and World-Class Customer Service

MILWAUKEE, Wis. and NEW YORK – November 1, 2017 – Park Bank announced today that it has joined the Small Business Loan Program created by BancAlliance and Fundation.

The Small Business Loan Program introduces a new financial technology platform that allows small businesses to access an online portal that will guide each small business customer to the products that best meet its unique need. This program is designed to enable banks to address the challenges of underwriting small businesses by providing a simplified and streamlined borrowing experience. Park Bank’s small business customers now have the ability to apply online by visiting ParkBankOnline.com/apply and certain eligible customers may receive approval in as little as one business day.

Tracy Meeks, Vice President - Small Business Banking at Park Bank, commented, “Park Bank was founded by business owners to address a lack of financing opportunities in their community on Milwaukee’s west side. Over 100 years later, we continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the business community. With this new capability, we’re providing the small business community easier access to get the funding that will keep their businesses running.”

Fundation provides credit for working capital and expansion purposes to a wide array of businesses nationally. Unlike most non-bank lenders, Fundation’s products are conventional loan products but using its best-in-class technology platform, Fundation makes the process for applying for credit an extremely efficient and customer friendly process. Fundation has been the recipient of the “Best Working Capital” loan award by Business News Daily for three years in a row because of its outstanding online application process and dedicated customer relationship management.

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation, said, “We are invested in driving the success of small business owners and partnering with Park Bank to do just that. The program we have created with our partner BancAlliance is unmatched within the industry, empowering community banks like Park Bank to serve their small business customer base and their local communities in an unparalleled way.” Brian Graham, CEO of BancAlliance, stated: “Our commitment is to the asset growth and diversification of the community banks we serve with a focus on expanding their relevance to their customers. This unique partnership with Fundation puts community banks at the forefront to be competitive with larger lending institutions without changing the traditional mission of community banking.”

About Park Bank
Established in 1915, Park Bank is a privately held commercial bank serving southeastern Wisconsin businesses and individuals. With over $900 million in assets, Park Bank has continued to increase its lending capacity, currently set at $18.5 million, to any one relationship. Park Bank’s core focus is the independent business market with revenues up to $100 million. As a full-service bank, services include commercial lending, commercial relationship banking, treasury management, private banking, equipment leasing, personal banking, residential mortgage, and personal and corporate investments. Park Bank is a member of the FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender. To see how we serve the Milwaukee region, visit ParkBankOnline.com.

About Fundation
Fundation Group LLC is a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider. The Company develops integrated small business lending solutions with banks, enabling them to deliver credit online, drive cost efficiency into their lending programs, and maximize customer retention by providing a positive customer experience and meeting the needs of the small businesses they serve. The Company also partners with a wide array of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver credit products to the business community nationwide. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

About BancAlliance
BancAlliance is a collaborative network of community banks that offers an array of lending programs and business services that might not otherwise be available to its members. The services of BancAlliance are designed to expand the impact and reach of member banks, enhancing their profitability, serving their customers in new ways, and growing and diversifying their loan portfolios. BancAlliance’s mission is to enable its members, the banks that direct its activities, to prudently diversify into high-quality loans in a manner consistent with the highest commercial and regulatory standards – without changing the nature or mission of the traditional community bank. BancAlliance has member banks located throughout our country. Learn more at www.bancalliance.com.

Media Contacts:

Park Bank
Beth Borst
ElizabethB@ParkBankOnline.com
262-827-5118

Fundation
Barry Feierstein
barry.feierstein@fundation.com
571-418-6387


Defining, Adopting and Executing on Fintech

Defining, Adopting and Executing on Fintech
By: Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation
SEPTEMBER 5TH, 2017 www.bankdirector.com

Fintech has become a convenient (and amorphous) term applied to virtually any technology or technology-enabled process that is, or might be, applied within financial services. While the technologies are complex, the vast array of the current wave of fintech boils down to three simple dynamics: (1) leveraging technology to measure or predict customer need or behavior; (2) meeting customer need through the best customer experience possible; and (3) the ability to execute more nimbly to evolve products and services and how they are delivered.

Every reasonably well-versed person in fintech knows that the ability to predict customer need or behavior is achieved through a strong data infrastructure combined with a high-quality analytics function. But what defines the quality of the customer experience? At Fundation, we believe the quality of the customer experience within financial services is determined by the convenience, simplicity, transparency, intuitiveness and security of the process by which a product or service is delivered. The challenge for many financial services companies in developing the optimal customer experience lies in the rigidity of their legacy systems. They lack the flexibility to continually innovate products and services and how they are delivered.

The distinct advantage that fintech firms like Fundation have over traditional financial services companies is the flexibility gained from building their technology infrastructures from scratch on modern technology. With in-house application development and data operations capabilities, fintechs can rapidly engineer and, more importantly, reengineer the customer experience and their business processes. The capacity to reengineer user interface (UI), user experience (UX) and back-end processes is a major factor in the ability of financial services companies to maintain a competitive edge in the digital era where customers are accustomed to engaging with the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple in their digital lives.

Banks Remain Well Positioned to Win With Fintech
Armed with these capabilities, we, like so many fintechs, could be thumping our chests about how we are going to transform banking. But at Fundation, we see the future differently. We believe that the biggest disruption to banking is not going to come from outside of the banking industry—it’s going to come from the inside. A handful of banks (and maybe more) will reengineer their technology and data infrastructure using modern systems and processes, developed internally and augmented through highly integrated partnerships with fintechs. As a result, these banks will generate superior financial returns and take market share as customers migrate to firms that provide the experiences they expect.

In addition to enjoying a lower cost of capital advantage versus fintechs, we believe banks are well positioned for three other reasons. First, banks will remain the dominant choice of customers for financial products given their brand strength and existing market share. Second, banks have far more data than the average fintech that can be used to develop predictive analytics to determine customer need or behavior. Third, and perhaps most important, banks have what we at Fundation call the “trust asset:" their customers trust that they will protect their information and privacy and that they will recommend products best suited to their needs.

Be the Manufacturer or the General Contractor
Banks are in a strong position to win the fintech revolution but what remains are the complexities of how to execute. There are a few basic strategies:
1. Do nothing
2. Manufacture your own capabilities
3. Operate as the general contractor, aligning your institution with third parties that can do the manufacturing
4. Some combination of manufacturing and general contracting

For banks that are predominantly in relationship-driven lines of business rather than transactional lines of business, doing nothing is viable for now. The pressures on your business are not as severe, and a wait-and-see approach may enable you to make more informed decisions when the time is right.

For others, doing nothing is fraught with peril. Assuming that you choose one of the remaining three options, the implementation process will be hard, but what may be even harder is the change in organizational psychology necessary to execute on your decision. Resistance to change is natural.

That is why fintech initiatives should be driven top-down. Executive leadership should command these initiatives and set the vision. More important, executive leaders should explain why the institution is pursuing a fintech initiative and why it has decided to build, partner or outsource. Explaining why can reduce the natural resistance to, and fear of, change.

Manufacturing your own capabilities is hard work but has advantages. It provides maximum control over the project and limits your vendor management risk. The downside is that the skill sets required to execute are wide-ranging. That said, building in-house doesn’t mean that everything needs to be proprietary technology. Most fintech platforms are a combination of proprietary technology along with third-party customized components. Should you elect to build off of third-party software, you must ensure that the platform is highly configurable and customizable. If you don’t have significant influence over customization, you will lose the opportunity to reengineer the processes necessary to rapidly innovate and evolve.

Being the general contractor isn’t easy, either, but banks are very adept at it. You could make the argument that most banks are just an amalgamation of business lines, each of which employs a different system (mostly third-party) and are already operating as general contractors. The business line leaders we have come to know have significant experience managing critical third-party vendors and therefore have the skill set and knowledge to manage even the most innovative financial technology partners. What’s more, they often know what they would want their operating platforms to do, as opposed to what they are built to do today.
Should your institution decide to outsource services to a fintech firm, it is paramount to align interests. Banks should embrace their fintech counterparty as a partner, not simply a vendor. Welcome the flexibility that they offer, and allow them to empower your institution to innovate and evolve.

Don’t Squander the “Trust Asset”
In a world where Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple dominate the digital landscape, deliver ideal customer experiences, and may possess a “trust asset” of their own, the status quo is not an option, no matter how painful change can be. If your financial institution intends to compete over the long term, executing on a fintech road map is vital, moving towards infrastructures with a foundation of flexibility. Over the next decade, flexibility will allow financial services companies to compete more effectively by delivering the products, services and experiences that customers will demand. Flexibility is what will allow your institution to maintain its competitive position over the long term.

Sam Graziano, a highly experienced financial services executive and entrepreneur, is the co-founder and chief executive officer with Fundation Group LLC, a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider.


EY announces Finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2017 Award in the New York Region

NEW YORK, May 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- EY today announced the finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Award in the New York region. The awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. These business leaders were selected by a panel of independent judges. Award winners will be announced at a special gala on June 22, 2017 at the New York Marriott Marquis.

The finalists are:
Morgan Hermand-Waiche - Adore Me
Jonathan Stein - Betterment
David Heath - Bombas
Ryan Urban - BounceX
Ken Colao - CNY Group
David Klein - CommonBond
Robert Reffkin - Compass
Dr. Joan Fallon - Curemark, LLC
Ran Sarig - Datorama, Inc.
Mike Brown - Death Wish Coffee
Nadia Boujarwah - Dia&Co
Thomas Majewski - Eagle Point Credit Management LLC
Michael Nardy - Electronic Payments Inc.
Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg - Flatiron Health
Doug Gordon and Sam Graziano - Fundation
Sonny Kalsi - GreenOak Real Estate
Jeffrey Snyder - Inspira Marketing Group, LLC
Daniel Teran - Managed by Q
Jonah Goodhart and Noah Goodhart - Moat
Dev Ittycheria - MongoDB, Inc.
Shafqat Islam - NewsCred
Mary-Jean Eastman and Bradford Perkins - Perkins Eastman
James Mastronardi and Andrew Vagenas - Pharmapacks, LLC
Seph Skerritt - Proper Cloth
Ricky Joshi and Ronald Rudzin - Saatva
Daniel Siegel - Safe Passage
Joe Reilly - The Community Development Trust, Inc.
Tom Patterson - Tommy John
Michael Batt - Travel Leaders Group
Nick Romito - VTS
Jeff Rosenzweig - Wet Brush
Kenny Dichter - Wheels Up
Stephen J. Fanning - Z-Medica, LLC

Now in its 31st year, the program has expanded to recognize business leaders in over 145 cities and more than 60 countries throughout the world.

Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year national program.  Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year Overall National Award winner, will be announced at the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, California on November 18, 2017. The awards are the culminating event of the Strategic Growth Forum™, the nation's most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Overall Award winner then moves on to compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in Monaco in June 2018.

About Entrepreneur Of The Year®
Entrepreneur Of The Year®, founded by EY, is the world's most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, chosen from an independent panel of judges including entrepreneurs and prominent leaders from business, finance, and the local community. The program makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global awards program of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in over 145 cities and more than 60 countries. ey.com/eoy


Defining, Adopting and Executing on FinTech – Part 2

BAI Banking Strategies published this article.

By Sam Graziano, CEO, Fundation

 Be the Manufacturer or the General Contractor

Banks are in a strong position to win the FinTech revolution—but what remains are the complex questions about how to execute. There are a few basic strategies: (1) do nothing; (2) “manufacture” your own capabilities; (3) operate as the “general contractor,” aligning your institution with third parties that can do the manufacturing; or (4) some combination of manufacturing and general contracting.

For banks that are predominantly or entirely in relationship-driven lines of business rather than transactional lines of business, option (1) is viable for now. The pressures on your business are not as severe, and a wait-and-see approach may enable you to make more informed decisions when the time is right.

For others, option (1) is fraught with peril. Assuming that you choose (2), (3) or (4), the technology implementation process will be hard, but what may be harder is the related change in organizational psychology necessary to execute on those decisions. Resistance to change is natural, and some employees may view FinTech initiatives as posing potential career risk or challenging the beloved status quo, whereas these initiatives are more likely to present opportunity.

That is why FinTech initiatives should be driven top-down. Executive leadership should command these initiatives and set the vision. More important, executive leaders should explain why the institution is pursuing a FinTech initiative and why it has decided to build, partner or outsource. Explaining why can reduce the natural resistance to, and fear of, change.

Building FinTech initiatives in-house is hard work but has advantages. It provides maximum control over the project and limits counterparty risk (vendor management). The downside is that the skill sets required to execute are wide-ranging: from project management, product management, software development and quality assurance to managing hardware. That said, building in-house doesn’t mean that everything needs to be proprietary technology. After all, most FinTech platforms are a combination of proprietary technology along with third-party components that are configured and customized. Should you elect to build off of third-party software, you must ensure that the platform is highly configurable and customizable. If you don’t have control (or significant influence) over customization, you will lose the opportunity to continuously reengineer the processes necessary to rapidly innovate and evolve.

The lack of flexibility to configure and customize is the single biggest criticism we have of many of the legacy technology providers to the banking system and even some of the new software vendors to the banking industry that built their platforms on flexible technology. While materially better than older solutions, most of these new firms sell pre-packaged solutions (or “managed solutions”) that place limitations on a bank’s ability to customize the way they want to do business. Does buying the same pre-packaged solution as your competitors give you a long-term sustainable competitive edge, or does it simply provide a long overdue upgrade?

Being the general contractor isn’t easy, either, but banks are very adept at it. You could make the argument that most banks are just an amalgamation of mono-line companies (mortgage, auto, credit card, commercial, corporate, payments, wealth management). Within each of these business lines, they employ different systems (mostly third-party systems) and are therefore already operating as general contractors. The business line leaders we have come to know have significant experience managing critical third-party vendors and therefore have the skill set and knowledge to manage even the most innovative financial technology partners. What’s more, they often know what they would want their operating platforms to do, as opposed to what they are built to do today.

Should your institution decide to partner or outsource services to a FinTech, it is paramount to align interests. Both parties must establish shared objectives and measurements of success, identify and discuss potential areas where interests may not be aligned, and focus on driving results that will not happen overnight. Banks should embrace their FinTech partner as just that: a partner, not simply a vendor. Welcome the flexibility that they offer, and allow them to empower your institution to innovate and evolve.

Don’t Squander the “Trust Asset”

In a world where Amazon, Google and Apple dominate the digital landscape, deliver ideal customer experiences, and may possess a “trust asset” of their own, the status quo is not an option, no matter how painful change can be. If your financial institution intends to compete over the long term, executing on a FinTech road map is vital. While there are potential transformational technologies on the horizon, they are unlikely to threaten the majority of financial services providers that facilitate payments, extend or facilitate the delivery of credit, or assist consumers and institutions with managing savings and wealth. As a result, the near-term decisions that need to be made will have consequences, but those consequences are not as dramatic so long as financial services companies are moving toward infrastructures with a foundation of flexibility. Over the next decade, flexibility will allow financial services companies to compete more effectively by delivering the products, services and experiences that customers will demand; flexibility is what will allow your institution to maintain its competitive position over the long term.

 

 

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation Group LLC

Sam Graziano is a seasoned financial services executive and entrepreneur. He co-founded Fundation in 2011 and is directly responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the company. Prior to founding Fundation, Mr. Graziano spent more than a decade in investment banking and private equity, where he developed an expertise in strategic, financial and operational issues for banks, specialty finance companies, asset managers, broker/dealers and other institutions throughout the financial services sector.

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Fundation Group LLC or partner institutions.


Defining, Adopting and Executing on FinTech – Part 1

BAI Banking Strategies published this article.

By Sam Graziano, CEO, Fundation

This winter, the Financial Services Roundtable arranged one of the best events regarding the broad topic of FinTech. The Financial Services Roundtable’s FinTech Festival brought together an unparalleled group of executives from the largest financial services companies and the largest technology companies and, of course, representatives from a diverse group of FinTech companies, to discuss and debate the areas of technology expected to have the most pronounced impact on the financial services industry.

What was unique about this event was the discussions were aided by “futurists” from some of the largest technology companies in the world. These futurists prompted participants to think about areas of technology that are not yet conventional forms of FinTech, but could fundamentally alter the way financial services are delivered in the future, or what the need for financial services might look like in the future. While FinTech may be causing some heartburn in some corners of financial services, the ideas set forth at the festival were somewhat unnerving.

Imagine a world where autonomous vehicles are a reality. According to John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft, “the average vehicle is used only 4% of the time and parked the other 96%.”[1] Using a manufacturing analogy, he argued that at that utilization rate you would shut the factory down immediately. Now imagine a world where more than 90% of the vehicles on today’s roads are no longer needed. What would the future implications be for the auto finance and auto insurance industries—not to mention the auto manufacturing industry and its supply chain.

Whether it is as a result of autonomous vehicles, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence or blockchain technology, over the next decade some established financial services companies may face outright extinction while others will be well positioned to take advantage of the technological evolution of the financial services marketplace. The need for some financial services products will decline or disappear while others will remain. My bet is that we are a long way off from a future where established financial services companies are not the dominant (or a dominant) player in payments, cash management, savings and investment, and extending credit.

So, while the decision-making pressure on established financial services companies is not as severe as some FinTechs or technologists might want you to believe, there are important decisions to make. The primary issue is that the experience that customers are coming to expect in accessing financial services products and services is in the process of being fundamentally altered.  That is where the current state of the FinTech phenomenon comes in.

Defining the FinTech of Today and the Benefits of FinTech

FinTech has become a convenient (and amorphous) term applied to virtually any technology and technology-enabled process that is, or might be, applied within financial services.[2] While the technologies are complex, the current wave of FinTech boils down to three simple dynamics: (1) leveraging technology to measure or predict customer need or behavior; (2) meeting customer need through the best customer experience possible; and (3) the ability to execute more nimbly to evolve what products or services to deliver and how those products or services are delivered.

Every reasonably well-versed person in FinTech knows that the ability to predict customer need or behavior is achieved through a strong data infrastructure combined with a high-quality analytics function. But what defines the quality of the customer experience? Technologists at the FinTech Festival argued that delivering the same products through a mobile device does not necessarily constitute the type of experience that customers have come to expect in the digital era. According to Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, more than 70% of millennials say that they would prefer to bank with Google, Apple or Amazon if that were possible.[3] The argument is that these companies think first about what the customer experience should be and then design and deliver their products through a modern set of systems and processes flexible enough to evolve quickly to meet changing customer needs and preferences—or to just make the experience better.

At Fundation, we believe that within the financial services arena, the quality of the customer experience is determined by the convenience, simplicity, transparency, intuitiveness and security of the process by which a product or service is delivered. The challenge for many financial services companies in developing the optimal customer experience lies in the rigidity of legacy systems that impede the flexibility required to continually innovate and evolve what products and services are delivered and how they are delivered.

It’s All About Flexibility

The distinct advantage that FinTechs have over traditional financial services companies is the flexibility gained from building their technology infrastructures from scratch on modern digital technology. With in-house application development and data operations capabilities, FinTechs can rapidly engineer and, more importantly, reengineer the customer experience and their business processes. The capacity to reengineer UI/UX and back-end processes is a major factor in the ability of financial services companies to maintain a competitive edge. The typical FinTech probably has a release cycle every couple of weeks; at most established financial services companies, it is materially longer, to say the least.

In our many conversations with prospective bank partners, we often find ourselves articulating the tremendous flexibility that our platform possesses to accommodate the desired customer experience and the integrations that are required with the systems and processes of the bank. But at some companies, this level of flexibility can result in consternation. The organizational psychology of many banks considers flexibility (and its cousin, customization) to be problematic because it requires numerous and frequent decisions—and decisions typically imply risk. As a result, there is an organizational bias toward buying ready-made software and solutions that do not provide the flexibility necessary to compete over the long term in the digital era. Think about how many of your current vendors force you into following their release cycles.

Banks Are Well Positioned to Win with FinTech

Within the consumer and commercial banking arena, our company is certainly not alone in possessing these capabilities. Armed with these capabilities, we could be thumping our chests, like so many FinTechs, about how we are going to transform banking.[4] But we see the future differently.  We believe that the biggest disruption to banking is not going to come from outside of the banking industry - it’s going to come from the inside.  A handful of banks (maybe more) will reengineer their technology and data infrastructure using modern systems and processes, developed internally and augmented through highly integrated partnerships with FinTechs.  As a result, these banks will generate superior ROEs and take market share.

In addition to an obvious cost of capital advantage versus FinTechs, we believe banks are well positioned for three other reasons. First, banks will remain the dominant choice of customers for the most utilized financial products, given their brand strength and existing market share. Second, banks have far more data than the average FinTech that can be used to develop predictive analytics to determine customer need or behavior. Third, and perhaps most important, banks have what we at Fundation call the “trust asset”; the intangible asset that financial institutions have because their customers trust that they will protect their information and privacy and that they will recommend products best suited to their needs.[5] No industry (except perhaps the intelligence and aerospace industries) is as sophisticated and focused on cybersecurity as financial services companies. This is perhaps one area that financial services companies should actually thank their regulators for emphasizing.

Part 2 is available in the News Section.

 

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation Group LLC

Sam Graziano is a seasoned financial services executive and entrepreneur. He co-founded Fundation in 2011 and is directly responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the company. Prior to founding Fundation, Mr. Graziano spent more than a decade in investment banking and private equity, where he developed an expertise in strategic, financial and operational issues for banks, specialty finance companies, asset managers, broker/dealers and other institutions throughout the financial services sector.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Fundation Group LLC or partner institutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] John Zimmer, “The Third Transportation Revolution—Lyft’s Vision for the Next Ten Years and Beyond,” Sept. 18, 2016.

[2] Sometimes, even more egregiously, simply having a website and offering a financial product may be considered FinTech.

[3] Commentary from Aaron Levie at Financial Services Roundtable FinTech Festival.

[4] See LendingClub S-1: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1409970/000119312514435442/d766811ds1a.htm.

[5] According to J.D. Power, 79% of customers say they their “Bank acts in my best interest”


Pacific Mercantile Bank Partners with Fundation to Offer Simplified Online Applications for Small Business Loans

Costa Mesa, CA – May 11, 2017 – Pacific Mercantile Bank (“the Bank”), the wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Mercantile Bancorp (NASDAQ: PMBC), today announced that it has partnered with Fundation® to offer small businesses a fast, convenient way to apply for a wide variety of financing options.

By leveraging the financial technology platform developed by Fundation, Pacific Mercantile Bank’s online Small Business Loan Solutions program offers companies the ability to apply for financing quickly using a convenient and secure digital loan processing system.   Qualified customers may receive approval in as little as one to three business days.

Through the Small Business Loan Solutions program, Pacific Mercantile Bank provides small businesses with the financing that meets their unique borrowing needs – from revolving lines of credit up to $100,000 to term loans of up to $1 million.

“Our new Small Business Loan Solutions program uses best-in-class technology to eliminate the tedious paperwork and to streamline the loan application process,” said Tom Vertin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Mercantile Bank.  “Through our simplified online loan application, we are combining cutting-edge financial technology with our commitment to exceptional client service, enabling Pacific Mercantile Bank to say ‘yes’ faster and more often to small business owners.”

To apply for a small business loan, visit https://www.pmbank.com/Financing/SmallBusinessLoans.aspx.

 

About Pacific Mercantile Bank

Pacific Mercantile Bank opened for business March 1, 1999. The Bank, which is FDIC insured and a member of the Federal Reserve System, provides a wide range of commercial banking services to businesses, business owners and business professionals through its combination of traditional banking offices and comprehensive, sophisticated electronic banking services.

The Bank, headquartered in Orange County, operates a total of nine offices in Southern California, located in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Bernardino counties. In addition, the Bank offers comprehensive online banking services accessible at www.pmbank.com.  Pacific Mercantile Bancorp (NASDAQ: PMBC) is the parent holding company of Pacific Mercantile Bank.

About Fundation

Fundation Group LLC is a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider. The Company develops integrated small business lending solutions with banks, enabling them to deliver credit online, drive cost efficiency into their lending programs and maximize customer retention by providing a positive customer experience and meeting the needs of the small businesses they serve.  The Company also partners with a wide array of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver credit products to the business community nationwide. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

Forward-Looking Information

This news release contains statements regarding our expectations, beliefs and views about our plans to continue to build our loan portfolio and supporting systems and processes.  These statements, which constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, can be identified by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. Often, they include words such as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "estimate," "project," or words of similar meaning, or future or conditional verbs such as "will," "would," "should," "could," or "may." These forward-looking statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from the results discussed in these forward-looking statements because such statements are inherently subject to significant assumptions, risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and are generally beyond our control. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the following: the impact of interest rates and other external economic factors and competition among financial services providers. We undertake no obligation (and expressly disclaim any such obligation) to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. For additional information concerning factors that could cause actual conditions, events or results to materially differ from those described in the forward-looking statements, please refer to the factors set forth under the headings "Risk Factors" in our most recent Form 10-K and 10-Q reports and to our most recent Form 8-K reports, which are available online at www.sec.gov. No assurances can be given that any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur, or if any of them do so, what impact they will have on our results of operations or financial condition.

###

Pacific Mercantile Bank Contact:

Robert Anderson

EVP & Chief Banking Officer

714-438-2500

 

Fundation Contact:

Barry Feierstein
barry.feierstein@fundation.com
571-418-6387


Fundation Awarded Semifinalist for EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2017 in New York

Fundation Awarded Semifinalist for EY
Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2017 in New York

Recognition of Excellence in Innovation and Commitment to Communities

NEW YORK, April 27, 2017 – EY today announced that Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation, and Doug Gordon, Executive Director, Platform Operations of Fundation, are semifinalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2017 Award in the New York Region. The awards program, which is celebrating its 31st year, recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Sam Graziano and Doug Gordon were selected as semifinalists by a panel of independent judges. Award winners will be announced at a special gala event on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at the Marriott Marquis.

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation said, “We are honored to be recognized by EY as semifinalists for this prestigious award. While this award may ultimately recognize Doug and I as individuals, every successful entrepreneur recognizes that people are the greatest asset to any company. We have been fortunate to build Fundation with the most talented people in our industry who are hard at work building the best digital lending company in the small business market.”

Now in its 31st year, the program has expanded to recognize business leaders in over 145 cities and more than 60 countries throughout the world.
About Fundation
Fundation Group LLC is a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider. The Company develops integrated small business lending solutions with banks, enabling them to deliver credit online, drive cost efficiency into their lending programs and maximize customer retention by providing a positive customer experience and meeting the needs of the small businesses they serve. The Company also partners with a variety of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver small balance commercial credit products. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

About Entrepreneur Of The Year®
Entrepreneur Of The Year®, founded by EY, is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, chosen from an independent panel of judges including entrepreneurs and prominent leaders from business, finance, and the local community. The program makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global awards program of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in over 145 cities and more than 60 countries. ey.com/eoy
About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.
Media Contact:
Fundation
Barry Feierstein
barry.feierstein@fundation.com
571-418-6387


Ixonia Bank Announces Expansion of Small Business Lending Efforts

Ixonia Bank Announces Expansion of Small Business Lending Efforts

Provides Greater Opportunity for Ixonia Bank to Serve Small Businesses in the Community Offers Simple Loan Terms, Quick Application Process and World-Class Customer Service

IXONIA, WISCONSIN and NEW YORK – April 18, 2017 – Ixonia Bank announced today that it has joined the Small Business Loan Program created by BancAlliance and Fundation.

The Small Business Loan Program introduces a new financial technology platform that allows small businesses to access an online portal that will guide each small business customer to the products that best meet its unique need. This program is designed to enable banks to address the challenges of underwriting small businesses by providing a simplified and streamlined borrowing experience. Ixonia Bank’s small business customers now have the ability to apply online by visiting www.IxoniaBank.com and certain eligible customers may receive approval in as little as one business day.

Mark Wierman, President of Ixonia Bank, commented, “Our partnership with Fundation will provide a quick and efficient way for small business owners to apply for loans online in a way that is convenient for them. While our focus on personalized customer service and relationship banking remains as strong as always, the online lending market is rapidly evolving and this program helps us meet the needs of small businesses that may not otherwise be aware of our products and services.”

Fundation provides credit for working capital and expansion purposes to a wide array of businesses nationally. Unlike most non-bank lenders, Fundation’s products are conventional loan products but using its best-in-class technology platform, Fundation makes the process for applying for credit an extremely efficient and customer friendly process. Fundation has been the recipient of the “Best Working Capital” loan award by Business News Daily for three years in a row because of its outstanding online application process and dedicated customer relationship management.

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation, said, “We are invested in driving the success of small business owners and partnering with Ixonia Bank to do just that. The program we have created with our partner BancAlliance is unmatched within the industry, empowering community banks like Ixonia Bank to serve their small business customer base and their local communities in an unparalleled way.” Brian Graham, CEO of BancAlliance, stated: “Our commitment is to the asset growth and diversification of the community banks we serve with a focus on expanding their relevance to their customers. This unique partnership with Fundation puts community banks at the forefront to be competitive with larger lending institutions without changing the traditional mission of community banking.”
Ixonia Bank
W1046 Marietta Avenue • PO Box 110
Ixonia, WI 53036
(920) 262-6959 | (262) 567-7509

About Ixonia Bank
For nearly 100 years, Ixonia Bank has been offering a full suite of business banking products and an array of financial services including personal checking, savings, loans, and wealth management services. Ixonia Bank was established in 1918 in Ixonia, Wisconsin; since then the Bank has grown to offer services at six locations throughout Waukesha and Jefferson Counties. To learn more about Ixonia Bank, please visit the Bank’s website at www.ixoniabank.com. Member FDIC. Ixonia Bank NMLS#: 423065

About Fundation
Fundation Group LLC is a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider. The Company develops integrated small business lending solutions with banks, enabling them to deliver credit online, drive cost efficiency into their lending programs, and maximizing customer retention by providing a positive customer experience and meeting the needs of the small businesses they serve. The Company also partners with a wide array of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver credit products to the business community nationwide. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

About BancAlliance
BancAlliance is a collaborative network of community banks that offers an array of lending programs and business services that might not otherwise be available to its members. The services of BancAlliance are designed to expand the impact and reach of member banks, enhancing their profitability, serving their customers in new ways, and growing and diversifying their loan portfolios. BancAlliance’s mission is to enable its members, the banks that direct its activities, to prudently diversify into high-quality loans in a manner consistent with the highest commercial and regulatory standards – without changing the nature or mission of the traditional community bank. BancAlliance has member banks located throughout our country. Learn more at www.bancalliance.com.

Media Contacts:

Ixonia Bank
Mark Wierman, President mwierman@ixoniabank.com 262-560-7352

Fundation
Barry Feierstein
barry.feierstein@fundation.com
571-418-6387