No doubt about it . . . these days, bankers are as popular as jock itch! But, before you put all bankers in that same group you should know that at least one set of bankers has been diligently working to develop a program aimed at stimulating new sources of lending for boating. Kudos to the National Marine Bankers Association (NMBA) for its just-unveiled program intended to create and promote increased awareness of loan availability for the industry. Its a three-pronged approach aimed at helping dealers and manufacturers, educating banks and other credit institutions, and reaching the consumers.
First, for dealers and manufacturers, NMBA has produced a Webinar and posted it on the organizations website at www.marinebankers.org. Although somewhat elementary in parts, overall its an excellent presentation with solid information about obtaining additional funding for wholesale and retail. Its packed with tips on approaching banks for future relationships, too, and every dealer should view this Webinar.
Second, in an aggressive effort to educate and attract more lenders to the marine field, NMBA has created a direct mail campaign including a new brochure and the Marine Credit Industry White Paper. The White Paper makes a strong case for marine lending and anticipates significant opportunities for financial institutions as the boating industry recovers. More specifically, it recaps the marine lending market's history, its good performance and a definition of why lenders should offer both wholesale and retail credit.
"Today's recreational marine lending landscape is rich with opportunities," suggests Bill Thompson, with Cardinal Points Network, LLC, who drafted the white paper on behalf of NMBA. Thompson adds, "Due to recent fluctuations in the credit and capital markets, demand is greater than supply for retail and commercial floor plan lenders. As a result, interest rate spreads have increased and the profit potential is improving."
The White Paper further asserts: (1) Subprime activity was minimal in boat financing and delinquency rates were lower than other consumer credit categories, averaging 1.1 compared to 1.8 respectively, in 2007; (2) Boat buyers are mostly middle class three out of four have a household income of $100,000 and under, and present healthy lending opportunities for banks; (3) The boating industry has experienced consistent economic cycles since the 70s allowing for some predictability for lenders when seeking future growth opportunities; and (4) Recent fluctuations in the credit market demonstrate that despite economic downturns, sound lending practices in the marine industry have historically provided solid returns over time.
This direct mail campaign has been sent to all member institutions in nine associations ranging from the Independent Community Bankers of America to the Credit Union National Association. The White Paper can also be found at www.marinebankers.org.
Third, NMBA will shortly be creating editorial materials intended for use in future boat show programs and local media outlets in boat show markets. The editorials will be directed at the consumer and relay the "availability of funds" message for boat buyers.
NMBA has also been working alongside NMMA and MRAA and the Federal Small Business Administration to focus on the need for federal assistance for boat dealer floor planning.
I tip my hat to all these associations for their work!