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September 23 2020

Souri Comments in Forbes Article Regarding Online Lending

"The 21st century has made it much easier for small-business owners to access capital. Online lenders in particular can look like an attractive option to small-business owners looking for a quick cash influx, but it’s wise to be cautious.While there are many reputable online lenders out there, there are also some unscrupulous actors as well as potentially costly “features.” It’s important to research carefully before making a commitment. Below, 11 members of Forbes Finance Council share critical details entrepreneurs should be aware of when considering taking a loan from an online provider...5. You should focus on structure and lender reputation.Online lending is a great option for finding capital but requires adequate diligence by the borrower. Focus on structure and lender reputation when seeking financing online. Online lenders include reputable lenders that offer reasonable capital but also include predatory high-interest loans. Make sure you understand the loan structure and do your diligence in researching the lender. - George Souri, LQD Business Finance"Read the full article via Forbes. 
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    September 10 2020

    George Souri Featured in “15 Expert Financial Strategies For Seasonal Businesses”

    "Some businesses are seasonal by nature. For instance, pool maintenance and landscaping businesses thrive in the summer, while snow removal companies and holiday gift shops see sales during the winter season.When the majority of your sales occur in a small window of time, you need a strong budget and operational strategy to keep yourself afloat during the off-season. To help, we asked a panel of Forbes Finance Council members how they recommend managing seasonal sales cycles.11. Know your base expense burn.A long cash conversion cycle (the number of days between paying costs and receiving payment from sales) can cause major cash flow issues—even for profitable businesses. This dynamic is compounded in the case of seasonal businesses. Knowing your base expense burn and reserving adequate cash for inventory purchases or slower-than-expected sales is critical to long-term seasonal business stability. - George SouriLQD Business Finance..."Read the full article via Forbes.
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      August 25 2020

      LQD Business Finance Announces Free Webinar on Maximizing PPP Forgiveness

      "Chicago based lender, LQD Business Finance, will be holding a free webinar on August 27, 2020 at 2:00pm CST called,“Protect Your Business Through the Pandemic”. This webinar will reveal important information about managing a business during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also providing an EZ Cash Flow tool for participants to take away to utilize on their own businesses.People interested in learning more about navigating through the COVID-19 Pandemic and how-to better plan, analyze and remain aware of their business financial situation can register for the webinar at no cost via Zoom. Navigating through the pandemic is tough for many small businesses, and there are very limited resources on while also maximizing on PPP Forgiveness.George Souri, CEO of LQD Business Finance, is hosting the webinar event and will share SME insight on best practices to keep businesses prepared as the economic situation continues to change.Attendees can ask questions live and obtaining formation not easily available through other channels as well as walk away with a downloadable LQD EZ-Cash Flow model. This model can be leveraged to create a twelve-month projection, which allows businesses to understand future expectations and plan for them.The public can register for LQD Business Finance’s upcoming webinar event via Zoomon Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:00pm CST online via Zoom."Read the full article vai ABL Advisor.
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        July 30 2020

        LQD Business Finance Wins FinTech 2020 Award

        Wealth and Finance International names LQD Business Finance "Best SME Start-Up 2020-US and Most Innovative Risk Management Platform: LQD Matrix."Check out the feature on LQD Business Finance via Wealth and Finance International HERE.
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          August 7 2020

          “How to Easily Obtain PPP Loan Forgiveness—and Protect Yourself from Audits” via ABA Banking Journal

          "The centerpiece of the Federally-authorized Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is the ability of small businesses to obtain a forgivable loan.This means that Small Business Administration (SBA) loans obtained under the guidelines of PPP, one of the governments’ flagship efforts to provide relief to small businesses suffering under pandemic shutdown orders, can become exempt from repayment.Yes, that means you don’t have to pay back the loan—not the principal, not the federally-mandated 1% interest. The debt is forgiven.A PPP loan is not free money, though. There are strings attached. Notably:Hoops Must Be Jumped ThroughTo qualify for forgiveness, at least 60% of the loan proceeds must go to payroll costs, the rest to essential expenses like mortgage payments, rent and utilities.Loan Forgiveness is Not AutomaticAs with every government interaction, paperwork must be filed before anything gets done. For the forgiveness of a PPP loan, the paperwork burden can be quite heavy.Borrowers Run the Risk of an AuditIf the paperwork you file does not satisfy the bureaucrats who review it, they reserve the right to audit your files to verify the paperwork, holding up your loan forgiveness in the process. As with any government audit, this can entail a long and intrusive look into your private business, with potential collateral damage if they see something they don’t like.A solution is clearly needed to allow small businesses to hold the government accountable to the promises of its multi trillion-dollar COVID-19 relief package. LQD Business Finance offers that solution in the form of its proprietary PPP Loan Forgiveness Platform.LQD Business Finance’s timely, user-friendly platform includes two versions:
          • free service that allows users to easily compile their PPP forgiveness paperwork and gives users a sense of their audit risk.
          • An affordable premium service that offers end-to-end paperwork platform, as well live technical support and free audit protection. The cost of the premium service is $250.
          Who Can Use It?The PPP Loan Forgiveness Platform by LQD Business Finance is a powerful solution for obtaining SBA PPP loan forgiveness, available to:BorrowersAny business owner who has obtained an SBA PPP loan can prepare or file their own paperwork online using the LQD PPP Forgiveness Platform in either its free or premium version. These borrowers can create a user account directly on the platform’s website.LendersA key feature of PPP loans is that they are not issued directly by the government. Congress effectively authorized existing SBA lenders, including banks and institutional lenders, to offer PPP loans as a new product, with loan forgiveness backed by a PPP appropriation.This means that SBA lenders who offer PPP loans have as much to gain as the borrower from PPP Loan Forgiveness. In addition to easy processing of loan forgiveness using borrower-provided data, LQD Business Finance offers a dynamic web-based dashboard that lenders can use to track their entire portfolio of loans.The premium service also offers lenders advanced analytics and batched-download capability.AccountantsAccountants offering PPP loan forgiveness processing services can use LQD’s platform to easily process client-submitted data, aggregating each account into a user-friendly Provider Management Dashboard, with live remote-desktop support to address issues and eliminate bottlenecks.Easy Paperwork ProcessingWithout LQD Business Finance’s powerful data integrations and automations, filling out PPP Loan Forgiveness paperwork can feel like pulling teeth—which puts it on par with most government-required documentation.The PPP Loan Forgiveness Platform by LQD Business Finance, in either its free or premium version, makes compiling the paperwork a snap.Once the account is created, the PPP Loan Forgiveness Platform uses industry-leading automation and data integration to:
          • Collect all required data and documentation.
          • Perform all required payroll, FTE and expense calculations.
          • Perform an audit risk assessment with secondary QC verification.
          • Generate a completed PPP Loan Forgiveness Application.
          • Provide a cloud-based backup folder containing all required data and verification documents.
          Users who have opted for the free service can then submit the auto-generated application.Users who have purchased the premium service also benefit from end-to-end application processing. No more steps need to be taken—LQD Business Finance handles the filing.Preparing for (or Avoiding) an AuditA manageable forgiveness application process is a valuable service, but arming borrowers to avoid an audit is arguably even more important.Government audits are not guaranteed. If your paperwork raises no red flags, government bureaucrats will probably accept the paperwork without question. However, as the IRS does with tax filings, the SBA reserves the right to audit your files for additional documentationAt their best, government audits are intrusive and hold up the process of your loan forgiveness. At their worst, they might reduce the portion of your loan that is forgivable. They could even uncover details that put you in hot water, possibly requiring costly legal defense even if you have done nothing wrong.LQD Business Finance offers borrowers revolutionary tools to reduce the risk of an audit. In the free version, this takes the form of an Audit Risk Score. Verified by a secondary quality control examination, the Audit Risk Score provides users insight into how likely they are to face an audit. The Audit Risk Score also comes with action steps to help you prepare for the audit in the event that you face one.Audit ProtectionLQD Business Finance is unique among PPP service providers in offering a proprietary program of Audit Protection. This feature is available with the premium service only, not the free service.In addition to end-to-end processing and filing, premium users gain access to rigorous quality control, as well as defense of the application in the event of an audit. Remember, by acting as a middleman in the preparation of the paperwork, LQD Business Finance is making a calculation of your repayment liability.With audit protection, LQD Business Finance takes full responsibility for that calculation and defends your application on your behalf in the event of an audit. In doing so, LQD Business Finance is defending not only you, but its own work.If any miscalculations in PPP forgiveness eligibility can be attributed to LQD Business Finance’s platform (and not borrower error or omission), LQD Business Finance will stand by its platform and pay any liability assessment for that miscalculation (subject to Audit Protection T&C).
          The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world to its core. Secondary to those affected by the appalling loss of life, small businesses have borne the brunt of the economic shutdowns that followed in its wake.PPP Loans are not a perfect solution. However, for those small businesses who depended on these loans as a life raft to keep from stuttering permanently, the PPP Loan Forgiveness Platform by LQD Business Finance is an affordable or even free way to make sure that this cumbersome Federal program works in the way it was intended—to keep doors open, paychecks flowing, employees healthy, and the promise of America alive and breathing."Read the full article on ABA Banking Journal.
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            July 23 2020

            CEO of LQD Business Finance Accepted into Forbes Finance Council

            "George Souri, CEO of LQD Business Finance, a Chicago based tech-enabled commercial lender has been accepted into Forbes Finance Council, an invitation-only community for executives in accounting, financial planning, wealth and asset management, and investment firms.George Souri was vetted and selected by a review committee based on the depth and diversity of his experience. Criteria for acceptance include a track record of successfully impacting business growth metrics, as well as personal and professional achievements and honors.“We are honored to welcome George Souri into the community,” said Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, the collective that includes Forbes Finance Council. “Our mission with Forbes Councils is to bring together proven leaders from every industry, creating a curated, social capital-driven network that helps every member grow professionally and make an even greater impact on the business world.”As an accepted member of the Council, George has access to a variety of exclusive opportunities designed to help him reach peak professional influence. He will connect and collaborate with other respected local leaders in a private forum. George will also be invited to work with a professional editorial team to share his expert insights in original business articles on, and to contribute to published Q&A panels alongside other experts.Finally, George Souri will benefit from exclusive access to vetted business service partners, membership-branded marketing collateral, and the high-touch support of the Forbes Councils member concierge team.“Thought leadership and innovative thinking are at the core of LQD. In these significant historical times, society is ever-more looking to business leaders to play a role in the larger social discourse. The Forbes Councils provide a vital channel for these important conversations and for the engagement of business leaders. I am excited to join this group of thought leaders and distinguished professionals in furthering this important mission.” said George Souri, CEO of LQD Financial Corp."Read the full article on ABL Advisor.
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              July 17 2020

              LQD Business Finance’s CFO gives insight on “Why Lenders Must Understand the Tax Impact of PPP Loans” via ABL Advisor

              "In a time when liquidity is of the utmost importance; it is imperative that lenders understand how Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans will impact borrowers’ taxes and free cash flow. The CARES Act plainly states PPP loan proceeds will not be included in gross income, which while true, is misleading based on recent statements from the Treasury Department. Based on these statements, borrowers could have materially less liquidity than was anticipated by lenders whose clients received PPP loans.PPP loans were given to small businesses to provide working capital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the program, if these funds are used for essential expenses such as payroll and rent, the loan will be forgiven. If a portion of the loan is not used for these expenses, it will be payable over two to five years at 1 percent interest per annum.It is generally believed by most lenders that it was the intention of Congress to make these tax-free loans as the language states as much. According to the text of the CARES Act 1106(i):“Taxability.—For purposes of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, any amount which (but for this subsection) would be includible in gross income of the eligible recipient by reason of forgiveness described in subsection (b) shall be excluded from gross income.”Gross income is a key term that is being misunderstood as it pertains to taxability. Under normal circumstances, loans forgiven or discharged are generally included in gross income known as Cancellation of Debt income (COD). However, as noted above, Congress recognized this and specifically stated the debt discharge of a PPP loan is to be excluded from gross income, which the Treasury Department subsequently affirmed. But then the Treasury Department stated expenses attributable to the PPP loan forgiveness will not be tax deductible which, in effect, does make forgiven PPP loans taxable income, just in a more subtle way.Let us walk through a few quick examples to illustrate. Let us assume a business has $1,000 of gross income, $500 in payroll and $100 in rent. In normal times, that entity would have taxable income of $400 as follows:Chart 1Now assume the same facts and that this entity got a $100 PPP loan and assume for a second the forgiveness was treated as COD income as normally is true undertax law. The taxable income would now be $500 as follows:Chart 2But we said earlier PPP loans are not COD income, so who cares right? Here is where the gross income distinction fits in. Now assume the business used all $100 for payroll and thus it was 100 percent forgiven. What the Treasury Department is saying is that because $100 was forgiven, it cannot be counted as an expense. So now the borrower will have taxable income as follows:Chart 3As you can see, whether you add it to income or take away an expense the taxable income amount remains the same. This fact was pointed out to the Treasury Department and they responded by citing Section 256 of the tax code which states deductions cannot be taken if they are tied to a certain class of tax-exempt income (e.g., a forgiven PPP loan).However, if desired, Congress could override the IRS by passing a law that specifically allows the deductions. There has been precedent to do so as Congress has previously done this for military service members and religious leaders allowing them to deduct property taxes and mortgage interest even if they are receiving tax-free housing allowances.Given that this will have a tax impact, lenders need to quantify this impact as they continue to monitor their borrowers’ financial health and liquidity. To quantify this impact, you would simply multiply the borrower’s effective tax rate times the PPP loan forgiveness amount. The effective tax rate may vary based on entity type and state(s) the borrower operates in.In our example above, let us assume this taxpayer has an effective tax rate is 25 percent. By taking away the ability to deduct the associated expenses, their tax bill increases by $25. Another way to think about it is the effective tax-free benefit of the $100 PPP loan is only $75 and the borrower has “lost” $25 of liquidity due to taxes.Besides layering this analysis into their monitoring procedures, lenders should be lobbying and pushing back on this. Many in the lending community believe this tax impact was not the intent of the PPP loan program. We should call our Congressional representative, SBA and local government representatives and tell them how this would hurt our borrowers’ businesses. A bill has already been introduced in the Senate that would make it clear that small businesses can deduct expenses paid with a forgiven PPP loan. There’s strong bipartisan support for the bill, so its eventual passage looks promising, but the Treasury Department already opposed the legislation. Your voice matters and with enough pressure on Congress its possible they will pass legislation making these expenses deductible and return to what was the true intent of the PPP loan program."Read the full article on ABL Advisor.
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                July 14 2020

                CEO, George Souri Weighs in on “14 Tips For Analyzing (And Increasing) Your Business’ Operational Cash Flow” via Forbes

                "14 Tips For Analyzing (And Increasing) Your Business’ Operational Cash Flow

                Having reliable, steady and sufficient operational cash flow is vital to any business. While maintaining an adequate income is necessary for survival, increasing it is the key to growing your business and providing security in case of a crisis.As a business owner, you need to not only critically appraise your existing revenue streams but also find new ways to boost incoming (and reduce outgoing) cash. Below, 14 members of Forbes Finance Council share their best advice for business owners looking to analyze and increase their operational cash flow...4. Create a 12-week cash flow projection, and update it weekly.Immediately create a 12-week cash flow projection, and update it every week. So many business owners focus on financial statements and underestimate the importance of timely cash flow management. A business with a long cash conversion cycle may be very profitable on an accrual basis but wake up one day unable to make payroll. Weekly cash flow monitoring is crucial to any growing business. - George SouriLQD Business Finance..."Read the full article in Forbes.
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                  July 22 2020

                  George Souri Imparts Valuable Tip for Freelancers via Forbes

                  "Freelancers: Take Charge Of Your Finances With These 14 Tips

                  The number of people in the U.S. who freelance has been growing in recent years, and the pandemic has accelerated this trend. There can be definite financial and lifestyle benefits from making a living as a full-time independent contractor or padding your regular income with a side hustle. However, freelancing comes with unique financial responsibilities as well as potential pitfalls, so it’s wise to be prepared.Whether you make most of your money through freelancing or just do it on evenings and weekends, knowing what to do with that money is as important as earning it. Below, 14 members of Forbes Finance Council share expert tips that anyone currently in or thinking of joining the freelance pool should consider...10. Set aside four months of living expenses.Cash is king. If you are self-employed, you should try to keep at least four months of living expenses saved at all times in the event you hit a dry spell with little work. Having the discipline to save a bit when times are good will save a lot of stress in the future. - George Souri, LQD Business Finance..."Read the full article in Forbes.
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                    July 10 2020

                    LQD Finance mentioned in American Banker’s “Banks seek more fintech help for PPP’s next phase”

                    "During the first round of processing Paycheck Protection Program loans for small-business customers, Huntingdon Valley Bank was scrambling.“We threw bodies at the problem,” said Hugh Connelly, executive vice president and chief lending officer in the business banking division of the Doylestown, Pa., community bank. “We ramped up the number of employees using [the Small Business Administration's] E-Tran. We worked incredibly hard but not necessarily smart or efficient.”Before the second round of PPP funding commenced, the five-branch, $356 million-asset company built a portal with the cloud technology company nCino to process applications faster, enabling employees to clock far more reasonable hours each day while generating much higher volumes — including a peak of $25 million in one day.
                    “We’re trying to run our day-to-day business, servicing the borrowing and deposit needs of our customers,” says Hugh Connelly, executive vice president and chief lending officer at Huntingdon Valley Bank. “I can’t serve those needs if my whole team is trapped in the bunker doing forgiveness applications.”
                    Huntingdon ended up processing just under $80 million in loans spread across nearly 500 applications.With the PPP enabling businesses to write off the debt if they meet certain criteria, Connelly’s team is preparing to get those loans forgiven.“We’ve done the work hard, we’ve done the work smart. Now we’ve got to work hard and smart at the same time,” Connelly said. “At the end of the day, the whole game is about forgiveness.”That meant searching for a platform that could simplify the process for both lenders and borrowers. After comparing several options, he landed on the software company Vikar Technologies, which provides workflow automation.Vikar is one of several vendors that are helping banks automate loan forgiveness applications. Others include the software and consulting firm Global Wave, the commercial finance company LQD Business Finance, the digital lending and sales platform Numerated, the customer conversations management platform Smart Communications and the information services provider Wolters Kluwer.There are far fewer providers focusing on forgiveness capabilities than those that built platforms and portals that allowed banks to process loan applications under the coronavirus relief bill during the first two phases of PPP funding. A number of banks are outsourcing the forgiveness process, or selling their loans to nonbanks.But even if small-business owners are ultimately responsible for getting their forgiveness applications in order, banks have a stake in smoothing out the experience. Helping customers get all of their loans written off could strengthen relationships for years to come — especially for community banks, which became a lifeline for small-businesses owners who hit a wall when seeking funds from larger institutions.“Many borrowers signed up for PPP loans in a state of agita because they wanted to ensure they could make payroll,” said David O’Connell, senior analyst in the wholesale banking group at Aite Group. “They were thinking more about getting the loan closed than how they would get it forgiven.”But "if my bank made it easy for me [i.e. a small business owner] to not only finish the forgiveness process but maximize the amount of loans forgiven, I will feel seriously loyal to that bank,” said O’Connell. “It’s a relationship enhancer and loyalty invoker.”

                    Finding forgiveness

                    Borrowers are eligible to have 100% of their loans forgiven if they meet a set of requirements, such as using at least 60% of the amount for payroll and not reducing salaries beyond a set amount. Banks are waiting for the SBA to finalize requirements before they submit forgiveness applications, although some are already sending borrowers a link to these portals.“Small businesses are likely discussing use of loan proceeds with their financial controllers to understand when the right time will be to seek forgiveness under the program’s provisions,” said Samir Agarwal, who oversees Wolters Kluwer’s TSoftPlus program for SBA loan processing. “This decision all depends on how and when they utilize the funds.” Glasford State Bank in Glasford, Ill., is one institution that has announced its intention to use TSoftPlus software for the loan forgiveness stage.When the time comes, the volume, variety and analog nature of the documents (such as utility bills and payroll statements) required to verify that businesses spent their funds appropriately will complicate the application process, said O’Connell.“I can picture a small business faxing its most recent bank statements to a banker and saying, ‘You figure it out,’ ” said O’Connell.That is where the fintechs come in.In general, these automated forgiveness tools will provide banks with an online portal that will guide borrowers through each step of the application akin to a questionnaire; prefill the form where possible with existing borrower information; perform all calculations; and prompt borrowers to upload the right documents. Lenders will receive a completed application, which they can review and submit to the SBA.“By the time this goes to the lender, you are relatively assured that the borrower has filled it out correctly and included the right documentation,” said Glenn Bolstad, CEO of Vikar Technologies.Numerated, which provides an automated forgiveness solution that the technology provider FIS is reselling, outlined some of the complexities of manually completing the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application, or Form 3508, in a blog post. For example, borrowers need answers to questions at the end of the form in order to answer questions at the beginning. Some questions are not always required based on previous responses.Pinnacle Financial Partners in Nashville, Tenn., and Hancock Whitney in Gulfport, Miss., are among the more than 70 institutions that will be using Numerated’s forgiveness software.Smart Communications’ forgiveness solution uses the SmartIQ platform, a cloud-based tool. “When building out a new smart form or creating a workflow, the process is simple drag-and-drop,” said Neal Keene, field chief technology officer at Smart Communications. “It does not require IT or code to build out the dynamic questioning.”Smart Communications’ customers include credit unions, regional banks and small banks, and the company says it is adding new institutions weekly.Connelly, of Huntingdon Valley Bank, chose Vikar because the platform was customizable, affordable and did not require a systems integrator. His team added their own tutorials and pop-ups to answer questions, audit warnings for math errors and more.Vikar is currently training about 20 regional and community banks on its software.“We had all the underpinnings ready to go, but reconfigured our software to have some of the business rules specific to PPP,” said Bolstad. “For example, did you use 60% for eligible expenses like payroll during the covered period?”LQD Business Finance is another provider that built its solution on an existing platform in a matter of weeks.“We simply used the existing native tech stack, which included API integration and data integration automation, to create the forgiveness application,” said George Souri, founder and chief executive of LQD.Many of these platforms operate similarly, but have sought ways to differentiate themselves.LQD offers audit protection, meaning the company will pay the difference in case a future audit reveals that it undercalculated the forgiveness amount. Vikar partnered with Innovative Financing Solutions (IFS), a lender consulting and business advisory firm, to provide consulting services and act as help desk support.Costs also vary. Smart Communications, for example, provides its solution free of charge for existing SmartIQ customers. Wolters Kluwer charges a fixed transaction cost for its TSoftPlus PPP Forgiveness Module.At Huntingdon, Connelly is awaiting rollout of the SBA’s forgiveness portal, which he expects to happen around July 30. Once it’s ready, he and his team will aim to approve every application in less than a week with the help of Vikar’s platform.“We’re trying to run our day-to-day business, servicing the borrowing and deposit needs of our customers,” Connelly said. “I can’t serve those needs if my whole team is trapped in the bunker doing forgiveness applications.”"Read the full article on American Banker.
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