Happy new year!
The first thing I do before looking forward is to look back at the past year and reflect on what was achieved and where we came up short. 2019 shaped up to be another great year at Suntell on the heels of a very good 2018. We welcomed 12 new community bank and credit unions to our company and onto our Square 1 Credit Suite. We have continued to invest heavily in our software platform on the R&D side and are on the cusp of releasing two new products in early 2020. We continue to receive high marks from our loyal customer base per our survey and checkup we conduct annually. As we passed the 23rd anniversary of the company last August, I want to continue to give thanks to many of long-time loyal employees that have contributed to help making Suntell successful and what it has become today.
In addition to providing loan and document management and loan origination solutions, we continue to be an advocate for best practices around commercial credit risk management. In case you missed them, please visit our company blog where you will find my 2019 blog articles and such topics covering a) Sound Practices for model risk management; b) 5 Point Lending Checklist – Annual Review; and 3) Preparing for your next Bank Exam. The economy has remained very strong for the most part and has avoided a recession for the time being. Interest rates have been lowered and remain low and inflation continues to be low and stable. The agricultural sector has suffered for several years and remains one of the primary areas of concern when looking at the whole U.S. economy. While I have seen several economic cycles over the last 40 years, the current cycle remains strong and could run for some time. Eventually, it will turn down, as all cycles do at which time, strong lending policies and credit risk management practices supported by strong credit management systems such as Square 1 will be a foundation from which to survive and thrive when that time comes.
2020 – The year ahead.
2020 is a marketing dream. We will be attending the 2020 ICBA Live community banking show in March in Orlando, FL. They have tagged this show – 2020 – Bold Vision/Clear Focus. This and other references to 2020 and vision or focus will be relentless, that much I predict. When it comes to 2020, I wish I had perfect vision into the future. The best I can do, like so many others, is trying to forecast the key trends and then manage toward or around those trends.
As I look into 2020, one of the trends we are seeing in the last couple plus years is the increasing desire by community financial institutions to replace or upgrade internal archaic systems and processes for originating and managing commercial and agricultural loans. Avoidance is no longer a strategy. The youth of yesterday that grew up with computers, software and Internet in their schools are starting to mature and beginning to demand full internal adoption of integrated systems and ditching the old paper, pencil, and office applications of the last few decades.
While we have relished for this day to finally arrive since the moment when we formed this company in 1996, the challenge in the near future will be to keep pace with how rapidly technology is evolving for digital loan solutions and fintech applications utilizing artificial intelligence in the commercial loan origination and decisions process. After meeting the market demand in the last few years as evidenced by our recent heavy investment in sophisticated financial commercial, CRE and agricultural analysis loan origination and management, we now turn our attention to those new emerging technology and applications demands.
A new product we have had in development for the last two years and scheduled to be released in January 2020 will be the SET Tax Return Reader. This new product will eliminate much of the time-consuming human keying of tax return and tax schedule data into the Square 1 Credit system by automatically harvesting data from electronically generated tax return forms into the financial spreads area of our system. After this product is released, we will be planning future enhancements in several areas within the Square 1 Credit Suite to improve the user experience while also increasing internal efficiency.
We wish all of our customers a prosperous 2020!
Suntell CEO and Founder
Makers of the Square 1 Credit Suite