Commercial Lending

Is Your Borrower Portal Truly Borrower-Friendly?

Improve efficiency and customer experience with a borrower-friendly portal. Get insights on cross-platform compatibility, easy loan information access and more.

A generation ago, borrowers obtained commercial loans by walking into the lobby of a financial institution, meeting with a loan officer, and kicking off a weeks-long process of filling out applications, submitting documents, playing phone tag, and waiting.

Today, the commercial lending world is unrecognizable. New technology tools are making the loan process smoother and less confusing, fundamentally changing the way borrowers obtain loans. For example, collaborative software can decrease processing times by as much as 40%.

One of the technologies driving lending forward is the borrower portal, an online space where borrowers can securely apply for funds, track the status of ongoing loans, and manage outstanding applications. Nearly 89% of U.S. bank account holders use mobile or online banking.

Is Your Borrower Portal Truly Borrower-Friendly?

The goals of borrower portals are twofold: to improve efficiency for lenders (reduced workload and increased productivity) and to improve the customer experience. In this guide, we’re unpacking the 5 most important components of a borrower-friendly portal: 

  • Cross-platform compatibility 
  • Streamlined communication 
  • Seamless onboarding 
  • Easy access to loan information 
  • Enhanced security

Meeting Your Users Where They Are: Appealing to Mobile Users

In 2020, the lockdowns immediately and irreversibly changed the way consumers interact with organizations. Consumers turned overwhelmingly to mobile, downloading 218 billion apps. This shift toward mobile encompassed every industry from food delivery to retail to financial services – a trend that’s slowed down but never stopped.

Is Your Borrower Portal Truly Borrower-Friendly?

In 2023, desktop internet usage decreased by about 5% while mobile usage increased by around the same amount. As mobile continues to grow in popularity, it currently enjoys about 60% of the market share.

In commercial lending, customers expect to be able to access their borrower portal seamlessly from multiple devices. Portals exist to make the lending process smoother and more convenient for borrowers while also making it more efficient and profitable for lenders. To accomplish those goals, a truly borrower-friendly borrower portal works where your borrowers are, whether that’s in the office with a desktop, at home with a laptop, or on the train with a mobile device.

Intuitive User Experiences

To facilitate a seamless experience between devices, your borrower portal must have an intuitive layout and clear navigation options.

One of the golden rules of web design is the 3-click rule, which states that users should be able to find whatever they’re looking for within 3 clicks. The 3-click rule is more of a rule of thumb or guiding principle than it is a hard and fast rule. The important thing is that your user interface must be intuitive enough that users can navigate it even when switching between devices and straightforward enough that first-time users can find what they’re looking for without a steep learning curve.

The Town Square in Your Pocket: Interacting & Communicating with Borrowers

One important feature your borrower portal should include is the ability to communicate with borrowers. This is especially important in commercial lending because borrowers and lenders must frequently trade financial information with each other. Transmitting that information over unsecured, unencrypted email poses a major cybersecurity threat, so a secure, encrypted portal makes communication easier and safer.

Using your borrower portal to interact and communicate with borrowers also streamlines communication during the origination and servicing stages of the lending lifecycle. No more playing phone tag, messy email threads, or lost texts — a borrower portal provides a central hub for communication to flow through.

Lenders reach out to millennials twice as often as they do baby boomers. Millennials are more likely to use email and other forms of digital communication than older generations, but among every demographic, more than half of borrowers say they prefer digital communication methods such as email.

Welcome Aboard: Creating a Seamless Onboarding Process

The onboarding process is one of the most important stages of commercial lending. It establishes the relationship between lender and borrower and it’s also the time when the lender collects the most information. Ensuring that information is accurate and timely is a top priority for lenders.

A borrower-friendly portal helps smooth over pain points and remove potential frustrations from the borrower experience. Borrowers must have a good experience during onboarding because this sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. If first-time users feel overwhelmed or frustrated with your borrower portal, they will likely feel overwhelmed and frustrated with the entire commercial lending process as well.

A friendly borrower portal should be easy to work with, eliminate redundancy from the onboarding process, and provide clear direction for borrowers as to what information they need and what their next steps should be.

The advantage to borrowers is clear, but this has an advantage for lenders as well. Not only do lenders benefit from the positive customer experience, but they also benefit from the reduced workload the portal offers. During onboarding, a borrower portal can make the traditionally complex and time-consuming process of gathering and storing documentation easy and simple, saving lenders time and money in the process.

No Card Catalog Needed: Offering Clear and Transparent Loan Information

Borrower portals offer a convenient interface for borrowers to submit applications and check notifications. But more than that, borrower portals are hubs for information that help borrowers and lenders coordinate and communicate throughout the commercial loan lifecycle – from onboarding to origination and from fulfillment to servicing.

For example, during the origination process, a borrower-friendly portal keeps borrowers and lenders on the same page regarding loan terms and changing interest rates. Some borrower portals are even integrated with pricing software so that borrowers can obtain pricing with little to no workload for the lender.

After origination, borrowers return to their portal to view loan information such as upcoming due dates and payment history, or to download loan documents such as their loan contract or rate adjustment schedule.

For lenders, these self-servicing options translate to less pressure on loan officers and servicers. Borrowers get accurate, up-to-date information about their loans, lenders are freed up to focus on lending, and everybody benefits from clear and transparent communication through a borrower portal.

Standing Guard: Enhanced Security Measures

A borrower portal must be successful at facilitating the borrower experience and keeping unauthorized users out. This means no spying eyes, no intercepted messages, and no unencrypted files. 

Encryption hides the contents of transmissions by scrambling them in a way that can only be unscrambled by an authorized user on the other end, similar to a coded message that can only be decoded by its intended recipient. Encryption is important because cyberattacks targeting lenders are on the rise, and unencrypted data is a low-hanging fruit for bad actors.

Encryption alone can’t prevent 100% of cyberattacks, but it does provide an important safeguard. Borrower portals layer encryption on top of other cybersecurity measures like multi-factor authentication to ensure borrower data stays safe and secure.


Download the Guide 3 Ways to Protect Your Clients' Personal Information


Putting It All Together 

Your borrower portal is like your front door: it’s the main point of entry and an opportunity to create a good first impression. It’s important to get it right.

The best borrower portals embody all five of these features: mobile optimization, convenient communication, painless onboarding, accurate information, and robust security. With these qualities, you can improve efficiency and enhance the customer experience.

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