From Oct. 1 to the end of May, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo has approved 21 percent more loans than during the same period in the previous fiscal year, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The increase comes as Wells Fargo is seeking to grow its SBA lending in the Carolinas and elsewhere, said Ron Hankins, Wells Fargo's business banking manager for the Charlotte metropolitan area.
Wells Fargo has been focused on making more SBA loans in the Charlotte region since it acquired Wachovia in 2008, Hankins said.
The lender has a team of three Charlotte-based SBA loan originators who help other Wells Fargo bankers in the region get approvals for SBA loans, Hankins said. Those bankers are increasingly turning to the SBA specialists when they have potential clients, which is a key factor driving the growth in Wells Fargo's SBA lending, he said.
Wells Fargo's 94 loans are more than the 30 loans approved by second-place VantageSouth Bank, which is part of Raleigh-based parent VantageSouth Bancshares. VantageSouth's loans were up 43 percent from the same period in the previous fiscal year.
With competition strong among banks to lend to business, some banks are making rates and terms for business loans more attractive, he said.
The 94 SBA loans Wells Fargo approved in North Carolina from Oct. 1 to May 31 total $24.9 million. That's down from $27.7 million in the same period in the previous federal fiscal year.
Wells Fargo was in second place for SBA loan approvals during the same period the previous fiscal year, behind first place Winston-Salem-based BB&T Corp.
The SBA updates its North Carolina loan-approval figures for the fiscal year around the start of each month.
The 7(a) loan is SBA’s primary program for helping existing small businesses and startups. Participating lenders make the loans, which SBA guarantees.