At Pursuit we team up with our valued network of bank partners to serve small business owners who do not qualify for traditional financing. Every bank partner who refers a small business owner to Pursuit is an active contributor to the fulfillment of our mission. Together, we’re working to help businesses access the capital they need to grow today and achieve a better position for bank financing tomorrow.
We recently launched our “Banker of the Year” award to recognize the outstanding commitment of the banking community in supporting Pursuit’s mission. This year, we are honored to recognize Steven Glass, Senior Vice President at Flushing Bank, with this award. Over the past few years, Steven has championed a “second look” program at Flushing Bank that to date has resulted in more than 30 of his customers receiving more than $2.7 million in alternative loans.
We sat down with Steven to learn more about what motivates him to work with small businesses, what he finds rewarding about his work, and what’s in his toolkit when small business owners do not qualify for traditional loans.
Pursuit: What do you enjoy most about working with small businesses?
Steven Glass: In my banking career, I have always worked with customers to meet their financial services needs, helping them achieve their economic goals. Over the years, I have worked with a diverse group of clients—everything from owners of an alpaca farm to manufacturers of vacuum cleaner bags, as well as professional services like doctors, accountants, and attorneys. It’s important to build trust with my clients and gain their confidence as a resource to expand their business, take on new projects, or meet competitive challenges. I enjoy learning how businesses got started, the creative ways they grew, and how they weathered tough times to achieve success.
Pursuit: Tell us how you got involved in small business banking.
SG: My earliest memory of small business was working in my uncle’s luncheonette as a young boy in Brooklyn, making egg creams and selling packs of baseball cards. I had to stand on a pretzel can to reach the counter but I loved helping out. I remember how hard my uncle worked, starting each day at five in the morning, but he took great pride in knowing what every person would order for lunch, how they liked their coffee, and what newspaper they read. My wife and brother have also been small business owners so it’s very personal to me.
After college, I worked in local government in New York City. My responsibilities included helping small business owners navigate through the bureaucracy of regulatory agencies on health, sanitation, fire, and environmental services. I was involved in the early days of Local Development Corporations and Business Improvement Districts in New York City. Today, these organizations are the backbone of the economy and have helped turn neighborhoods around.
Pursuit: What’s most rewarding about your role at Flushing Bank?
SG: Flushing Bank truly lives up to its brand promise: “Small enough to know you. Large enough to help you.” As Director of Retail Business Development at Flushing Bank, I have built a team that provides resources and information on deposits, lending, cash management, and related services, and can communicate with our clients in nearly a dozen foreign languages. Our Business Development Officers (BDOs) and Business Specialists utilize a consultative sales approach to engage clients in collaborative credit conversations and to identify new business opportunities. Our CEO, John Buran, and the executive management team empower us to be responsive to our clients and are equally committed to the communities where we live and work.
Pursuit: What’s in your toolkit when a customer doesn’t qualify for financing products with Flushing Bank?
SG: The Business Development team is the link to Flushing Bank’s conventional lending products such as term loans, lines of credit, cash management, and owner-occupied commercial mortgages. We have strong commercial real estate, multifamily, mixed-use and residential lending services; and loans available through our Complete Banking for Professionals program for doctors, attorneys, and CPAs. We also have partnerships to assist businesses with less tenure, and our loan options include solutions that work best for unique business objectives. As a Preferred SBA Lender, Flushing Bank offers long-term, low-rate, and low-down-payment financing on SBA loans. These are ideal for start-up businesses and those seeking to expand. Flushing Bank has also partnered with the Pursuit SmartLoan to provide businesses with quick and easy access to microloans under $100,000.
Pursuit: Why do you choose to refer customers to Pursuit?
SG: Pursuit combines competitive rates and terms with a simplified online application process. Our clients receive a funding decision from Pursuit in two days or less. Flushing Bank’s Business Development Officers and Business Specialists work closely with Pursuit representatives to ensure a seamless application and funding process with strong communication every step of the way. Since there are no prepayment penalties, as the business grows we can consider other conventional credit options to take the business to its next level.
Pursuit: What advice do you have for other bankers looking to get involved with CDFIs like Pursuit?
SG: Bankers must stay connected with local businesses and recognize their importance to the economic growth of our communities. The partners at Pursuit share our commitment to the business market and provide a credible platform to introduce business lending. Pursuit has a great depth of expertise to meet the needs of businesses in a diverse and competitive marketplace.
Inspired by Steven’s story? You can learn more about how partnering with Pursuit works here.