Having become an approved Small Business Administration lender at the end of 2017, and designated a “preferred lender” by the SBA in September, Patriot Bank is increasing its small business operations by opening SBA Business Development offices in the southeast U.S. and, on Nov. 1, naming a former top SBA official to its board of directors.
Brent Ciurlino leads a specialized risk management and regulatory practice at Ivorhill Financial Advisers in Washington, D.C., where he has handled international assignments with the World Bank, the International Finance Corp. and the International Monetary Fund.
He also served as director of the Office of Credit Risk Management for the SBA, where he supervised the $105 billion SBA 7(a) and 504 loan debenture and portfolio programs. He also supervised and regulated more than 4,000 SBA financial institutions across the U.S.
“As a banking executive and former federal regulator overseeing small business loan programs, Brent brings substantial expertise and value that will benefit Patriot Bank, its customers and its shareholders,” said Michael Carrazza, chairman and CEO of the Stamford bank. “As we build our small-business lending portfolio and look ahead to the goals we have set, Brent’s active involvement will bring a heightened dimension of operational, regulatory and risk management oversight.”
“It is very exciting to become a part of Patriot’s dynamic and talented team, particularly in the areas of SBA lending and enterprise risk management,” Ciurlino said. “I’m delighted to actively contribute to Patriot’s successful growth, diversification and expansion of its small-business lending capabilities.”
Kevin Ferryman – himself a relatively new member of the bank’s management team, having joined Patriot in May as senior vice president and director of SBA lending following five years as SBA director at Citizens Bank – said the hiring of Ciurlino underscores Patriot’s commitment to the small business lending space.
“He has a wealth of experience and will be a huge asset to the bank,” Ferryman said. “This is a business we’re obviously trying to grow and having him onboard will mean a lot.”
In addition, Patriot signed a definitive purchase agreement in February with Hana Small Business Lending Inc. for its $490 million SBA portfolio – a move that Carrazza said at the time would help Patriot to become one of the nation’s leading SBA 7(a) lenders.
Ferryman said Patriot’s strategy is to enhance its traditional lending programs. “The SBA has been a great partner with us,” he said. “We’re in a position now where we can approve loans for a lot more customers than we could do with our own internal policies.”
He noted that the “preferred lender” designation allows the bank to process, close and service most SBA-guaranteed loans without prior SBA review. As a result, entrepreneurs and small community businesses can obtain their loans more quickly and efficiently, Ferryman said.
“When we started facilitating SBA-guaranteed small business loans, we always intended to offer our customers the absolute best quality of service available, from the start of the application to the ultimate success of the company,” said Patriot President Richard Muskus Jr. “As a Preferred Lender, we will continue to provide support for many more small businesses that want to build themselves and contribute mightily to our economy.”
SBA, under its 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program, can guarantee loans up to $5 million. Loans are available for most business purposes, including buying commercial real estate, equipment and inventory, as well as for short-term working capital. Maturities are up to 25 years for commercial mortgages and up to 10 years for all other purposes.
In addition to a Stamford SBA Development office, Patriot has also opened one in Atlanta and is in the process of opening one in Jacksonville, Florida, with others on the way. “We want to be wherever we see real opportunity in the small business segment with some of the primary demographics, which are now mostly in the Southeast corridor,” Ferryman said. “That’s a little more attractive market overall – we see more SBA growth in those southern markets.”
Ferryman said the bank also hopes to open more SBA offices “in our own backyard.
“In the future we’ll be looking to expand not just geographically, but also by digging deeper into what we already have in the Connecticut-New York market,” he said.
Ferryman said that while some customers seeking SBA loans are prepared, many are not.
“It’s one thing to come in with a laundry list of what you think you need,” he said, “and another to sit down and go through it with them, to explain what it is, how it works, and the overall loan process.
“Applying for a business loan as a small business, especially the first time, can be an intimidating process,” he said. “You need to give the bank enough lead time to work with you to really do it right. We’re here to work with those customers so that it’s not such an intimidating and overwhelming process.”