Surviving Recession Bonus: Lenders Like Vets

James “Chip” Mahan, CEO of Live Oak Bank in Wilmington, N.C., has good feelings about the veterinary field.

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James “Chip” Mahan, CEO of Live Oak Bank in Wilmington, N.C., has good feelings about the veterinary field.

“I don’t know of any other industry that made more in 2008 than in 2007 outside of veterinary medicine,” Mahan says. “Although veterinary loan applications were slow at the end of 2008, there has been an uptick in the first quarter of 2009. There are some exciting changes that help the profession, such as the elimination of the 3 1/2-point origination fee with the Small Business Administration.”

Veterinarians who are rejected for a business loan tend to check out banks more savvy about the industry, Mahan says.

“A lot of bankers are scared about who they lend to now and are tightening their underwriting standards,” he says. “But many of our competitors know veterinarians are a great profession to lend to.”

Mark Edwards, president of BB&T Corp., an Atlanta-based lender, says fewer veterinarians are looking for start-up loans.

“Those who are located in areas where the housing market was hit the hardest are feeling the greatest pain,” Edwards says. “Some veterinarians have needed extra help to see them through the recession, and banks are largely willing to accommodate the vets because they have a reliable business model.”

Veterinarians generally are good loan candidates, bankers say.

“Every industry has been touched by the bad economy and it’s not over yet, but I’m sure happy I’m lending to veterinarians and not car dealers,” Edwards says.

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