Himpler: SBA Can Do Right by Businesses & Consumers
American Financial Services Association President and CEO Bill Himpler posted the following related to the current status of federal COVID-19 response lending policies.
Across the country, member companies of the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) are working to help their neighbors in a time of economic uncertainty, whether by delaying payments or working with customers on small dollar loans to help them with employment disruption or emergency expenses. Our auto-finance and installment lending members are proud to serve as leaders in their communities. Take a look at our AFSA member response page for just a small snapshot of the work members are doing in their communities. From supporting food banks to making PPE for frontline medical workers, AFSA members have risen to meet the challenges to the communities in which they live.
They want to continue to be there for American consumers, just as America’s leaders in Washington, D.C., and at the state and local levels want to help families and businesses that are in need of relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For our members to be there for others, however, we need immediate action to address the ongoing disparities in interim rules that block installment lenders from receiving the federal government assistance they require.
In authorizing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Trump Administration and Congress moved swiftly to stabilize small businesses and keep employees on the job. However, the initial guidance provided for the PPP by the Small Business Administration (SBA) did not include language that reflected what many of us believed to be Administration and Congressional intent for the program: providing financial assistance to a broad-base of essential businesses, including non-bank consumer lenders. To date, despite the best efforts of many on Capitol Hill and in the federal government, despite many phone calls and letters supporting updates to the interim language, the changes in wording have not materialized.
During good times and uncertain times, AFSA’s member companies are there for consumers … and the American economy. Taken together, our lending annually enables about $1.5 trillion in economic growth. Without the opportunity to draw on funding via the PPP, our members will face uncertainty as to whether they can keep their branch doors open to be there to meet the very certain needs of consumers affected by the employment disruption and financial uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The thousands of brick and mortar installment lenders want to be there for their consumers. Our vehicle finance companies want to help sustain the hundreds of independent auto dealers. Now we need the SBA to be there for the businesses that will be crucial to jumpstarting the American economy.
The Small Business Administration is fully aware that the current guidelines for PPP fails to fully address the needs of America’s diverse industries in need of assistance now so they can be open to assist the country’s economic needs tomorrow. AFSA appreciates the statements of support, the letters and commitments to help from Members of Congress and the Administration. But we need action now. AFSA members need the SBA to follow through on the intent of policymakers who sought to ensure all lines of essential businesses crucial to the U.S. economy now and moving forward had access to the PPP.
If America is to jumpstart its economy, AFSA members will be on the front line providing the financial support consumes need to sustain themselves in uncertain times. By ensuring that our members can access the PPP, the SBA will be doing the same for businesses, consumers and our nation’s economic security.
April 16th, 2020 by Dan Bucherer