This webcast will introduce PNC's new Minority Business segment, cover payment solutions and lending options, and provide a high-level economic update for minority businesses.

Our PNC Webcast Panelists include:


Richard Bynum, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer


Gus Faucher, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist

Marshalynn Odneal, Sr. Vice President & National Sales Executive for Minority Business, Business Banking

Greg Clarkson, Senior Vice President and Manager, SBA Sales

Shana Peterson Sheptak, SVP, PNC Merchant Services, Head of Business Banking





Now without further delay, let's begin today's event, PNC Presents: Minority-Owned Businesses Overcoming Financial Challenges. I'd like to introduce you to your moderator for today, and that is Richard Bynum, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer, the PNC Financial Services Group. Richard, you have the floor.

Richard Bynum:

Thank you so much. On behalf of PNC, I'd like to welcome you and thank you for joining us today as we explore the topic of minority-owned and operated businesses and overcoming the financial challenges that they might face. I'm pleased today to be joined by a few of my colleagues. Gus Faucher, PNC's Chief Economist. Greg Clarkson, our Senior Vice President and Manager of our Small Business Administration Sales Division. Marshalynn Odneal, who is our Senior Vice President and National Sales Executive for Minority Businesses. And Shana Peterson Sheptak who is a Sales Executive in our Merchant Services or our Card Processing Business. I want to thank them all for being here today as well.

We thought the conversation we hope to have today was an important one because we know that entrepreneurship and business ownership are the backbone of this economy. A full half of all the jobs that are created in the United States come from the activities of entrepreneurs. It also happens to be a clear and direct pathway to bridge the economic gaps that are very evident in the data in the United States. That's one of the reasons why we've made such strong commitments to support minority-owned businesses across the United States in our Community Benefits Plan which we announced last year. Out of that 4-year, $88 billion commitment, $26.5 billion of those dollars will be deployed to help support the growth of diverse owned businesses and businesses in low to moderate income communities where we know that the dollars can do the most good.

 Before we get into the specifics on how PNC will support this important community, I'd like to ask Gus Faucher to make a few comments outlining the economic environment that we currently find ourselves in and perhaps what we can expect in the near term. Gus?

Gus Faucher:

Great. Thank you very much for that, Richard, and it's a pleasure to be here with you today. Right now, the United States is in the middle of an economic recovery. We experienced a very severe recession in the first half of 2020 as the pandemic came to the United States. In this chart, the blue bars are the change in economic activity between the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic started, and then the second quarter of 2020 when things were at their worst. While the orange bars indicate where the economy is at as of the third quarter of 2021, so after the recovery.

These are all adjusted for inflation. You can see that overall, the U.S. economy contracted by about 10% between the fourth quarter of 2019 before the pandemic and the second quarter of 2020 when things were at their worst. But as of the end of 2021, the U.S. economy is about 1.5% larger than it was before the pandemic. Overall, the U.S. economy has recovered from the pandemic.

But that recovery has been uneven across sectors and in particular, consumer spending on services is still down by about 1.5% from where it was before the pandemic. A lot of minority-owned businesses are in the consumer services sector and so therefore, those businesses have yet to see a full recovery in the economy.

That being said, there are other parts of the economy that are doing much better. You can see the consumer spending on goods for example, whether durable goods, big ticket items like cars and appliances, or nondurable goods, goods meant to last fewer than 3 years, food, clothing, medication, gasoline, those types of things, that's well above their pre-pandemic level. And that indicates the problems that we're having in supply chains in the United States economy. Consumers are buying a lot more goods now than they did before the pandemic. It's taking time for producers to catch up. It's taking time for exporters to catch up. And therefore, we are seeing shortages of some goods, we are seeing delays in shipping goods, we are seeing higher prices for some goods. And that helps explain what's going on there.

And then the key to this entire chart is at the bottom. After-tax personal income. That's the income going to households and businesses. You can see that that jumped more than 10% between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020. That's because of all the support that the federal government provided to the economy. Additional unemployment insurance benefits, more people eligible for unemployment insurance benefits including the self-employed entrepreneurs, stimulus payments from the federal government. And so that has jumpstarted consumer spending which makes up about 2/3 of the U.S. economy and that has supported the economic recovery that is underway in the United States right now.

We have seen an enormous dislocation in the labor market. In March and April of 2020, the U.S. economy lost 22 million jobs. That is a huge number, much greater than the job losses that we saw during the great recession in a much shorter period of time. The good news is that the U.S. economy has added back 19 million of those jobs. The bad news of course is that at the end of 2020, 2021, excuse me, the U.S. economy is still short by about 3 million jobs from where we were before the pandemic.

And again, the recovery in the labor market has been uneven as well. This chart shows the overall unemployment rate as well as the White unemployment rate. You can see that the overall unemployment rate increased to almost 15% at its worst in April of 2020 as the pandemic came to the United States and that unemployment is a larger problem for minorities in the United States. The unemployment rate has fallen. It was 3.9% nationally at the end of 2021. But again, you can see that the White unemployment rate was below that which means that unemployment rates are higher for minority communities in the United States even as they recover to close to their pre-pandemic level.

We are seeing very acute labor shortages in the United States economy right now. This chart shows the labor force participation rate. That is the share of adults who are either working or looking for work. You can see, first of all, that it's been steadily declining for the past 20 years or so because of the retirement of the baby boomers. This shows the overall labor force participation rate in blue as well as the Black labor force participation rate in orange. You can see that we actually did have a significant improvement in the Black labor force participation rate from roughly 2013 through 2019 as the economy was very strong, as unemployment rates were falling nationally. But with the pandemic, both the overall labor force participation rate and the Black labor force participation rate fell sharply. Many people dropped out of the labor force.

The labor force participation rate has recovered as the economy has improved since the spring of 2020., but it still remains well below its pre-pandemic level. Businesses are having great difficulties in attracting workers. Overall, there are about 2.5 million fewer people in the labor force now than where were before the pandemic. That's why businesses are having difficulties in finding workers. And that's particularly acute for businesses that serve the Black community. The labor force participation rate for Blacks has not recovered as much as it has for the overall population. That means that businesses that are trying to recruit Black workers face particular difficulties in finding those workers given the structurally lower labor force participation rate we're seeing in 2021 into 2022.

That being said, with all of the problems that the economy is facing, small business owners are quite optimistic about the outlook. These are the results from PNC's Small Business Survey, the latest results are from the fall of 2021. And you can see that the share of small businesses that was pessimistic in the second half of last year was the smallest in the survey's history. Even with problems with recruiting workers, with high inflation, businesses feel very optimistic. Demand is very strong. It continues to improve and these small business owners expect that their companies will continue to expand in 2022.

We've seen a surge in minority owned businesses since the pandemic. The bars here show the change in basically entrepreneurship among different ethnic groups compared to before the pandemic in February of 2020 through August of 2021. And you can see that there has been particularly strong interest in small business formation among Hispanics and Blacks, that there's been very large increases in those shares or those populations that have opened their own businesses since before the pandemic. That being said, access to capital is a problem for many small businesses and particularly for minority-owned small businesses. This is the share of small business owners that are very confident that they have access to sufficient capital. You can see that only about 1/3 of small businesses overall think that they have sufficient access to capital, but it's an even smaller share, 1/5 for Black owned businesses. Access to capital remains a big problem for small businesses coming out of the pandemic, but particularly for minority-owned small businesses.

Our forecast, economic forecast for 2022/2023 is for continued strong growth in the U.S. economy and a continued improvement in the labor market. The unemployment rate which got up to almost 15% in April of last year, was down to 3.9% at the end of 2021. We expect that by the end of 2022, it will be back to its pre-pandemic level of around 3.5% or so. I would encourage you to look at all of our materials at Richard, thank you very much and let me turn the floor back to you.

Richard Bynum: Gus, thank you very much. I really appreciate you sharing those stats as well as some of the insights for what our audience today and the rest of the country can come to expect. Let me turn it over to Marshalynn a bit to talk about her world as the National Sales Manager for our Minority Business Development Group. Marshalynn?

Marshalynn Odneal:

Thank you, Richard. I'm very excited to be standing up this business within our business banking division. We're taking a 3-pronged approach to this. There is going to be minority business development officers that are going to be across our organization in our market, but then there's another element to this as well. And that's the microsite that we actually launched in July of last year. I'll ask that our viewers pay attention to the content section there, we also have a link in there too, the minority business website where you'll have plenty of tools and resources to help minority businesses thrive. Please check that out.

But then the third prong approach to standing up the minority business group is our advocate program. This is going to be a program internally across the organization where over 60,000 employees will have an opportunity to take part in being an advocate for minority owned businesses within their markets, within their communities at whatever level within the organization. Going through this certification training, this will equip our employees with information around the potential challenges within minority businesses, future outlooks for minority businesses, as well as additional resources that they can guide them to, to prepare themselves to engage and connect with our minority business owners. We believe that this 3-pronged approach including our advocate program will help us to make a huge impact in the minority community for minority business owners.

Richard Bynum:

Marshalynn, thank you for that. We're going to come back to you here in just a moment to talk a little bit more about that, but for our audience now, hopefully we'll have the benefit of the panel to touch on a few deeper issues. Again, Gus, Marshalynn who you've already met, are now joined by Greg Clarkson as well as Shana Peterson Sheptak from our Small Business Administration Group as well as our Merchant Services or Card Processing Group. Again, thank you both for joining us.

Let me start with Gus. Gus, I've listened to you a number of times talk about economic issues. I'm always coming away from those conversations having learned something new. When I think about, and I think you even mentioned that, maybe minority owned businesses in the service industry, there's uneven recovery in that particular segment. What are some of the other economic issues that might be disproportionately affecting minority business owners?

Gus Faucher:

Well, as we discussed, part of it is access to capital. That minority-owned businesses may not have as much family wealth for example to turn back to, and so they may face a more difficult road when they get started. Or if their business faces difficulties, it may be more difficult for them to access capital through friends and family for example. and so that's one factor.

Second factor is access to customers. It depends -- a lot of it depends on where businesses are located. In particular, that's been a significant problem with COVID. A lot of minority-owned businesses tend to be concentrated in areas that have high rates of COVID, that have been more subject to restrictions on economic activity. The pandemic has been a particular burden on minority-owned businesses that are located in some of these areas that have high rates of COVID or that are more subject to government restrictions.

Richard Bynum:

Thank you for that. It's fascinating, as any number of things have been over the last couple of years, to see how the pandemic has actually affected all aspects of our economy. Marshalynn, you talked a little bit about the 3-pronged strategy that you've developed for Minority Business Development. I know part of that is a certification program. What do bankers need to know when they are engaging a minority owner or operator? What insights do they need to come to the table with in order to be effective in that relationship?

Marshalynn Odneal:

Having information in regards to those unique challenges within whether it's the African American community, if they are dealing with the Latino community, having some awareness around those challenges that Gus just mentioned around access to capital, being prepared to have those conversations, and level setting expectations in that. One of the things that we learned throughout this process is around building that trust in our minority community. The more we go to market equipped with information, not that every minority business owner is the same, there is definitely differences. But if we at least go in with the knowledge and awareness around some of the systemic challenges that are faced, this will equip our bankers throughout organization in having a very meaningful dialogue with minority business owners.

Richard Bynum:

Got it. Thank you. Greg, we've heard both Gus and Marshalynn talk about access to capital and it really is the beginning and the end of the story as it relates to growing a business. I know that you and your team are experts in leveraging Small Business Administration programs to help business owners get on the right path toward that capital. Can you talk a bit about the SBA's programs and the specific opportunities that an owner might be able to seize upon to make those programs work for him or her?

Greg Clarkson:

Absolutely. Thank you, Richard. One of the things that Gus had mentioned just a moment ago was, in dealing with the pandemic there are issues as it relates to possibly customer attraction which translates into maybe swings in revenues. Plus, being in the service industry. In the service industry, there is oftentimes not sufficient assets to be able to pledge against the loan. There are inherent weaknesses in just those aspects when you're dealing with a bank that is looking to loan money. The way that banks look at transactions is, we take historical performance and project it onto the future to determine the repayment capacity.

The SBA products are an important source of capital that allows us to do that process for the small business owners. For those of you that don't know, the SBA is a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the banks to where we're able to share the risk of lending money. Due to this risk sharing, the banks can expand their lending parameters to assist more businesses that might otherwise not qualify under the conventional lending terms.

Banks are able to loan money under the SBA program to new businesses or projection-based repayment sources or businesses that have swings in their historic revenue. We can also provide loans where the assets securing the loan are not sufficient to repay the debt, or loans for businesses that have higher existing debt levels.

The SBA lending process under a normal environment is different than the Paycheck Protection Program loans, the PPP loans that many banks and small business owners may have participated in. The SBA has 3 primary products to assist small businesses. There is the SBA Express Loan which goes up to $500,000, can be used for general business purposes. Oftentimes, this express loan product is a revolving line of credit to help with a small business's operational cash flow cycle.

The next product is called the SBA7A loan which goes up to $5 million. It is a fully amortizing loan for general business purposes including real estate purchase, construction, equipment acquisition, working capital and debt refinance.

The final primary SBA product is the 504 loan which is a real estate product generally for projects up to $15 million. Each of these products has specific government rules regarding eligibility and collateral. The benefit to the small business owner includes there is oftentimes reduced equity contributions and extended maturities compared to conventional loan products.

It's very important, Richard, that small businesses work with a bank that is well versed in SBA lending. PNC, like several active SBA lenders, has obtained its preferred lender status with the SBA which indicates that the SBA, the government entity, recognizes the bank's expertise in complying with the rules and regulations associated with doing SBA loans.

Richard Bynum:

Greg, thanks for that. There's another side, right? Shana, there's another side to a business and that's cash flow. It's the lifeblood of any small business and actually accelerating those cash flows oftentimes lends itself frankly to being able to access the capital that you need. We know from the data that most minority-owned small businesses are either in healthcare services, professional services, and/or retail. Given that, can you give us a few proof cases about the power of receivables acceleration when you thinking about stabilizing and growing a business in one of those industries?

Shana Peterson Sheptak:

Absolutely. Thank you, Richard. I would say that I'm going to look at it from 2 lenses. I think when you are talking about accelerating receivables, we also have that backside protection of the business and their cash flow. You are spot on. The number one cause of business failure is because of cash flow management. We know that. And obviously, Greg talked a lot about access to capital and helping manage that. But we saw really through COVID a really key shift happened. When we think, and this will resonate with everyone, even just personally, we saw the secular shift from cash to card. And we also saw within that, not just card anymore, but this transition to contactless payments. We saw my mother was buying groceries online. She's 82. We saw this major shift secularly.

When you think about that, you think about kind of our core small business, and I'll get into the retail and healthcare industries in a second, they had to start to digitize to keep up. It accelerated for everybody this process. Which is exciting, but it also means that we have a lot of education to do to help our small businesses, particularly minority-owned businesses, understand how to leverage those tools.

When I think about a retail business storefront, again to your point, high percentage of minority-owned businesses. Right now, 90% of those businesses still process invoices for example manually. There's $3 trillion outstanding in unpaid invoices right now. That's a key way when you think about how can we get that money into our small businesses, improve that revenue cycle more quickly. For example, PNC has a great way to automate invoices. It saves time. It saves money on how to process an invoice. And frankly, it protects that small business owner. It provides a secure way to obtain payment. That's one example.

Another example is this concept of paying now, whether it's contactless or everyone now is shopping online and those retail stores that provide their services or goods online has quadrupled. How do we help businesses who are not website designers, how do we help them sell their goods or services online and accept payment in a really seamless way?

We have solutions where we can help a small business build their website. Something as simple as creating a shopping cart for them online for their business, all the way through to incredibly complex integrations where we can help them plug into an Amazon for example.

When you think about healthcare in particular, historically we saw healthcare being much more paper dependent. When we transitioned to electronic medical records, that obviously accelerated the digitization of the healthcare industry. But nothing accelerated it more than COVID. One of the key drivers behind that was contactless payment because no one wanted to touch anything. It's as simple as that. That immediately, when we went to that cashless or contactless payment, accelerated receivables. Folks were able to get the money immediately, went into the revenue cycle, that was a real win. But practices traditionally have really focused on patient engagement and satisfaction. Really, one of the key ways they found in the last few years to drive patient satisfaction was through making it easy to pay the practice. But now what we're seeing is that with costs of healthcare going up, procedures are becoming more expensive and copays continue to rise, there's now this emergence of how do healthcare practices help we'll call it finance, but that's not the right word, how do they help them pay in an easier way?

People might be familiar with a firm when you go shopping, but it's allowing someone to come to a healthcare practice, their copay is $250, to spread that $250 over 4 easy payments. No cost to the consumer. It helps make it more manageable to pay. And it also helps that practice again collect that receivable. Practices have to already deal with claim adjustments and submissions, denials, all of that. Where we can help, especially at PNC, is to help them make it easy for customers to pay them. And then on the backend, really help them protect that money once it's with the organization. I have to say, I'm so proud of the team that Marshalynn is building and the experts that we will now arm with this information that will go out into the community. I think that's just a real win and really proud to be a small part of that.

Richard Bynum:

Shana, thanks for that. Let me just sort of ask a rounding out question. Because you've each done a really nice job of I think framing up, for Marshalynn, how she's going to connect and build out this organization to help with minority business development. For Greg, talking about this great set of products that allow for access to capital for a variety of needs and at some pretty interesting levels of capital that can be deployed. And Shana, you've talked about a couple of cases on how you can help accelerate those receivables such that cash flow doesn't become a problem. And in fact, it becomes a strength to the businesses.

One of the things that I know early-on in the pandemic when some of those lines on Gus's charts were heading in the wrong direction, the impact of that was that, as an example, we know that 41% of Black-owned small businesses actually closed during that pandemic, just had to close their doors and not make it. And we further know that many of those businesses that were able to survive and then regroup and then ultimately find their way to being prepared for growth now, was on the back of a relationship that they had with a bank. It was one of the reasons that many pointed out their potential success was that they had a relationship with a bank more than just opening an account, but someone to talk to and help them bridge that divide that was in front of them with the pandemic.

Maybe I'll ask each of you, Marshalynn, Greg and Shana, each of you has a number of bankers that work for you in your various roles. I'm a small business owner. What do I do to have a relationship with our bank? Maybe Marshalynn, you can kick us off and then you guys can go around on that question.

Marshalynn Odneal:

Absolutely. Thanks, Richard. There's a number of things. One, I talked about the minority site that we have. Through that site, there is an option there to speak with someone, whether it's virtually -- you can go to that website and you can click on that link and you'll be able to speak with someone about the solutions and resources that we have. Our local branches. You can go into any of our local branches. We have business bankers, our branch managers are there, equipped and able to start forging those relationships.

And then soon to come, as I talked about at the top of the call, Richard, we're in the process now for the Minority Business Development Group of hiring minority business development officers across our footprint. Here in Q1, we'll have minority business officers throughout our organization, throughout our markets that will be equipped to establish those relationships. Those are important as you spoke about, Richard. Relationships are key. They're very fundamental to the growth of businesses, any business, but very much so minority-owned businesses.

Richard Bynum:

Then those folks will be the quarterbacks. Then, Greg, how do they get engaged with your team to learn about SBA or what they need to bring to the table to be successful in actually acquiring capital by virtue of SBA?

Greg Clarkson:

I think what Marshalynn said was exactly right. There are avenues to be able to engage the bankers to be able to discuss the needs that are out there, that any small business owner has. The avenues now include the virtual aspects, the online aspects, as well as the actual branch locations where bankers are in the branches. Each of those is a very valuable opportunity to be able to engage with the bankers.

One of the other things from a lending perspective, when we're talking about relationship, we're talking about history. And that includes the history of deposit accounts, the history of what Shana was talking about, your payment activity. That creates a relationship between the bank and the small business owner. And it allows from a lending perspective to be able to look at what has happened in the past. Because again, it is from a bank's perspective, we're looking at history as a means of projecting the future.

One of the things I would say from just a lending perspective in a relationship is, when you are at a point of looking for capital, be prepared. I think that that is very important. As small business owners seek various loan products from a financial institution, your banker wants to hear your story. And there is nobody, no one, that can tell the story better than the small business owner. In addition to telling the story, the narrative, we look, as bankers, we look at the history, your financial information including your historical tax returns for the business, personal, and if you're a new business, we look at your business plan. That business plan includes how you are going to achieve your revenue expectations along with your expense structure.

Now, oftentimes, the thought of preparing a business plan is a daunting task. There are resources out there that are available that are free that help in the preparation and gathering of business plans or your financial information. These include your community based economic development groups, your local Chambers of Commerce, and also, the SBA-sponsored small business development centers. It is best practice to have financing in place as early in the process as possible to avoid any sort of cash crunches you may have. Or if you already have it in place, you don't have the urge to look at possibly some of the easily obtained financing options that are out there, maybe online, that may be easy to obtain but end up being very expensive financing options. You want to be prepared not only for understanding your needs, but then also looking at the options that are out there.

Richard Bynum:

Got it. And Shana, we can talk about a relationship with a bank, but is merchant really worth it? I mean there seems to be -- every day I see emails about different solutions that are out there. Why should I have a relationship with a bank about my card processing?

Shana Peterson Sheptak:

It's a great question and I want to just reiterate something that Gus said. I think what happens oftentimes is that as customers or we have questions, we use a bank when we have a problem. That oftentimes is our trigger to talk to somebody. My best guidance would be to tell everyone that we want to help you on the frontend. We will never say no to talking to you about your business, as Gus said, your story. Doing that on the frontend, using us as a resource, building a relationship, we want that with our customers. Don't wait until you have a need or an issue. Talk to us. We'll guide you. We'll help you along your journey. And that could be from that point where you have that idea in your head, to you are 10 years in and you're looking to expand. But we're here to help you on the frontend and then guide you through.

And you're right, Richard, there are a lot of we'll call them card processing companies out there. We've had this real emergence of fintechs out in the industry. And I would say a couple of things. One, no one partners better with their relationship manager such as minority business development officers that we're hiring, our relationship managers within PNC. And we really provide and try to work with our partners to bring expertise. And that's a key differentiator. We're going to talk to our customers, we're going to understand what their specific needs are. And then we're going to find the right solution. Not the other way around. And I think that's a key differentiator and our customers tell us that they appreciate listening and the proactivity.

Richard Bynum:

Terrific. Thank you, all. I know that we've got a few questions that have come in from our audience and so I've got those up here in front of me. I'm going to just maybe throw them out to no particular person or maybe I'll have a point of view myself on one or two of them.    The first question is as follows. As a minority business owner looking to hire this year, what should I be taking into consideration to prepare myself for that? I'd open it up to the panel. Any thoughts there?

Gus Faucher: I'll take that one first, Richard. If I were a small business and trying to hire, I would be prepared for pain. It is a very, very tight labor market out there and the business people that I talk to, the number one difficulty they are facing is either they can't find workers or when they do find workers, that they're paying them much higher wages than they were previously. As I mentioned, we have about 2.5 million fewer people in the labor market now than we did before the pandemic. That just makes it increasingly difficult to recruit workers. And small businesses are finding that their workers are leaving for other businesses because they can offer higher pay.

You need to think about your entire compensation structure. How much are you going to pay in wages? How much are you going to pay in bonuses? Maybe you can pay a bonus that means you don't have to increase base pay. You can increase the compensation temporarily and then see how the labor market plays out.

The other thing is that people are looking for flexibility now in the workplace. With working from home, people don't necessarily have to come into the office. They may be placing a higher value on flexibility. You need to be thinking about that in terms of what you're offering your potential workers. And then think about benefits as well. Maybe there's something that you can offer in the form of nonwage compensation that will help you to attract workers. But it is going to be a difficult process and I don't expect that it's going to get much easier over the course of 2022.

Marshalynn Odneal:

I'll just jump in here, Richard. It goes back to what Shana was just talking about to the extent of the value of the relationship and having the conversation. Kind of that financial checkup with your banker. We do really good at this, actually, great at this. We bring together our Eco partners. Whether that's merchant, whether that's treasury management. Our investment partners can be at that table to talk about the future of your business and that growth and what you're looking to do to help you in that journey as you prepare to expend and grow. I would say the relationship, having that financial checkup is critical.       

Greg Clarkson:

Marshalynn, the financial checkup is very important, especially when you're hiring new individuals, new employees. Like Gus mentioned, one of the words that he kept reiterating was pay. Whether you're paying in salary, paying incentives, and all that is an expense. It's very important to understand that your cost of hiring may start right away and your revenue generation may not come until a little bit later down the road. Making sure that you've accounted for that gap between the expense and the revenue generation from those new employees is very important. Again, it gets back to understanding the story and preplanning about where your capital is going to come from, whether it's generated from your existing revenues or whether it's going to come in the form of a loan or some other means. I think that it's important to thoughtfully ask and answer that question for each small business owner.

Richard Bynum:

Greg, I'd tie that right back to something you said earlier about your business plan. It feels like one of those things I'm sure as many folks who have an entrepreneurial spirit, the last thing I want to do is write a business plan. But the idea of how you grow your expense base has to be connected to how your revenues are going to ultimately flow. I've had a lot of clients over the years and you get into that circumstance where you've taken on a lot of expense, and by and large, the revenues don't necessarily come according to plan. Particularly if you're maybe in a service industry, perhaps there's some business development activities that need to happen upfront kind of on your shoulders. But once that dollar is out the door in terms of expense, it's kind of out the door. I think that planning is just so key.

Another question here that's come in, and Marshalynn, I think this probably goes to you, how will your team or the advocates that you are creating, how will they work with the not-for-profit and community organizations that are out there?

Marshalynn Odneal:

Yeah, great question. There will be a number of opportunities there for them to work with the nonprofits. What's going to be key is the advocates as well as the business development officers, working with our community banking partners as well as our regional presidents in those markets to understand who are the nonprofit that we're currently working with. Are there some that we need to be working with that we can make introductions to? So that as we're having those conversations with our minority business customers, we can also utilize and leverage our nonprofits. I also see us doing whether they are educational, technical types of seminars and outreach that we'll be able to provide by working in collaboration with the nonprofits. Very excited about that and the opportunities that we have in that space.

Richard Bynum:

Terrific. Thank you. The last question I have here, actually, Greg, probably a little bit back to you, although everyone can sort of chime in here. You've answered some of this, but let's go a bit deeper because we know capital is really important in this conversation. With the evident challenges with access to capital that minority business owners face, how can I set myself up for success? What are just those brass tacks? What are those things that if I'm coming out to meet with my banker I need to have hard facts on in order to enable my ability to access that capital I need?

Greg Clarkson:

I think it gets back to preparation. As a banker, we are going to want to, as I mentioned earlier, hear your story. And I want to not only hear it, but I also want to see it in the historical financial information. That's where I think is the biggest key is to come in being prepared. Banks are in the business of helping businesses and we are wanting to loan money. We're wanting to loan money to main street, to the communities, and to the small businesses that are serving the various communities. Because the stronger the small businesses, the stronger the overall community. And I think that that's an important part of our overall theme, our overall desire and our overall business plan. And we as a bank, just like all small businesses, have a business plan. That's what I think is important. And then again, to do your research, do your homework. Whether it's online or in-person or to one of the services that are available out there through the SBA or your local community groups. Understand what is necessary in order to obtain a loan. The information that's needed, and the kind of history and relationship that we've been talking about is where I'd really start the journey. It is not a difficult journey. It is one that takes the preparation and each bank has their own credit philosophy, has their own lending parameters, so where one bank may say yes, another bank may say no. It's not discouraging, it's just a difference.

Richard Bynum:

Great. Thanks so much. And thank you for joining us today. Gus, Marshalynn, Shana, thank you so much for your time and expertise in sharing this I think really valuable information with the Minority Small Business Community out there. And again, I'm Richard Bynum, I'm the Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer at PNC. I want to thank you all for joining us today. Hopefully you found some value in the information that was shared. If you want to learn more, you can go to, all one word, to learn about the information that's available for Black, Brown, Asian American, Pacific Islander and other diverse owners and operators that want to engage with PNC. On behalf of PNC Bank, I want to thank you for your time today and bid you a great afternoon.