Driving Change with a Human Approach to Lending Operations

For communities to thrive, they need resources — but too often, small business owners, developers, and local community development leaders lack access to the capital they need to drive progress.

Momentus Capital is on a mission to change that through a community-first approach to lending grounded in our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. And for us, that includes much more than the actual continuum of capital we deliver, but also HOW engage with our borrowers and partners to do that. Every aspect of our lending operations is built on our values, which means taking out a loan from Momentus is a much different experience than borrowing from a traditional financial institution.

But our approach doesn’t just feel good. It also leads to exceptional outcomes. The secret to our success? Putting the borrower first with superior client service, competitive products, and scaffolded support. And our lending operations team is at the heart of what makes Momentus unique.

The Role of Lending Operations

Broadly speaking, our lending operations team works across the lifecycle of loans we deploy across the Momentus Capital branded family of organizations — typically beginning during origination and ending with the loan payoff or exit.

While specific touchpoints with borrowers vary depending on the type of financing they have received, the lending operations team is generally involved in everything from closing calls and funding to post-funding risk mitigation and compliance. Team members help borrowers set up access, set expectations for payments and communications, and answer questions. At Momentus, this can range from queries about small business loan payments to complex issues related to construction or tax credits for investors.

The lending operations team also handles covenant tracking (meaning that they confirm any specific terms within the loan, such as insurance and reporting requirements, are upheld) and ensure compliance with reporting regulations.

We know that each loan deployed comes with a unique set of individual circumstances for each of our borrowers, as well as a variety of local and national economic conditions. It is our goal to ensure each of our borrowers is successful in managing their loan so they can focus on their community impact and we can continue impactful lending.

Group photo of the Momentus Capital lending operations team.
The Momentus Capital loan operations team is split evenly across our small business and community development lending programs, bringing diverse personal and professional experiences to their work but unified in their commitment to helping borrowers achieve their goals.

Embracing Synergies Across Momentus Brands

Momentus Capital serves several different types of clients across our branded family of organizations, but our lending operations are highly collaborative and unified. The team’s 30 members, who are split evenly across our small business and community development lending programs, bring diverse personal and professional experiences to their work but are unified in their commitment to helping borrowers achieve their goals. This was a result of rebuilding what was once two teams that independently supported CDC and Capital Impact into one Momentus Team that harnessed the individual strengths and servicing knowledge of each team member.

“In a nutshell, we support the deployment of capital to communities,” explains Alexander McDonald, senior director of lending operations. “Whether the deal is $10,000 or $10 million, we’re there. We are hands-on — and often working behind the scenes — from beginning to end.”

As of the end of Fiscal Year 2022, this included a total managed loan portfolio of 2.8 billion dollars. You can see more detail about the breakdown of those numbers in our FY2022 Annual Report.

McDonald’s team includes specialists dedicated to construction risk and disbursement, new closings, New Market Tax Credits (NMTC), and loan servicing for both complex real estate  projects and small businesses. This structure allows Momentus to offer borrowers and loan officers the subject matter expertise and guidance they need to navigate the funding process. In some cases, as many as 15 professionals might touch a single loan over its lifetime.

“We take a holistic approach, both in lending operations and across the organization more broadly,” says McDonald. “We look beyond the paper and the financial statements and ask, who is the borrower? What do they represent? What are they trying to accomplish? We look at our borrowers as co-catalysts for growth, job creation, or access to healthy food. We want to see not only our borrowers succeed but their communities and successors as well.”

Group photo of the Momentus Capital lending operations team.
The Momentus Capital loan operations team is split evenly across our small business and community development lending programs, bringing diverse personal and professional experiences to their work but unified in their commitment to helping borrowers achieve their goals.

A New Approach to Lending Operations

That holistic outlook, and our commitment to diversifying access to capital, means that Momentus can offer products and terms that conventional financial providers do not.

“We have below-market interest rates, longer than average interest-only periods, and longer than average amortization periods,” says McDonald. “Our origination fees are lower. We may not always require a loan loss reserve. Things like that show that we really want to make it work for the borrower and that we can provide capital when they may not otherwise be able to get it, and we’re proud to partner with our colleagues on that.”

But offering capital alone isn’t enough. To help borrowers succeed, Momentus backs that funding with a suite of support unmatched in the industry.

“What sets us apart from other companies is our customer service,” said Marcel Williamson, senior portfolio compliance manager and head of the CDC Small Business Finance loan servicing team. “When a borrower calls in or has questions, we don’t just give an answer; we explain the ‘why.’ I’ve worked for other institutions where that wasn’t the priority because the focus was on hitting numbers and goals. It’s different here with Momentus. We take the time to listen, understand the borrower’s concerns or questions, empower them with information, and set them up for success for the life of the loan.”

While the other members of Williamson’s loan servicing team each have their own focus areas, she noted that they’re all cross-trained to ensure that everyone is equipped to answer requests from borrowers.

“The members of my team know they can collaborate with their peers when needed, but they are also empowered to use the systems, tools and resources they have available,” she said. This setup also gives borrowers a more seamless experience since they can get information and answers from the team member they last had contact with.

Going Above and Beyond to Support Borrowers

Sometimes, borrowers need more help than the lending operations team can provide. In that case, the team refers them to Momentus Capital’s specialist business advisors,who can help them refine their business model or overcome technical hurdles.

In other cases, a borrower might face a short-term obstacle that impacts their ability to make payments — and here, too, Momentus puts humans, not metrics, first.

“We live in the real world, and things happen,” says McDonald. “We try to be flexible where we can. It’s important that the borrower is proactively informing the loan officer of an issue. When they do that, we can better help them.”

When clients are impacted by natural disasters, for example, Momentus works with them to make the transition back to business as usual as streamlined as possible. Similarly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Momentus waived late fees for many borrowers who were struggling to keep their businesses running and offered additional flexibility around deadlines for certain reporting requirements.

As Williamson noted, the range of experience that Momentus employees bring to the table makes the team especially effective in fast-moving situations like the pandemic. Her team pivoted quickly to help process PPP loan applications in response to enormous need, even though that task fell outside their usual scope of work.

“It really was about rolling up our sleeves and getting the job done for the borrowers,” Williamson said. “I think that’s why we were so successful during that time because we were able to leverage everybody’s expertise and  knowledge outside of the company and shift into new roles to get the job done.”

Member of Momentus Capital Business Advising Team meets with borrower
In cases where our borrowers need more help than the lending operations team can provide, the Momentus Capital business advisors step in to provide additional support to refine their business model or overcome technical hurdles.

A Personal Commitment

For many of our lending operations team members, the Momentus mission is personal.

“I come from humble beginnings, and I can relate to our borrowers and the communities our deals impact,” said McDonald. “It’s humbling to me when borrowers reach out. I’m African American, grew up in a single-parent home, and a number of our borrowers are people of color who come from low wealth or underserved demographics. Being able to relate to them in that sense is important.”

Williamson, who, like McDonald, had spent most of her career before Momentus at major corporate financial institutions, has also found meaning in the opportunity to make an individual impact.

“This is one of the only places that I’ve worked at where I can truly say that we embrace and value each other’s knowledge and expertise,” she noted. “The company fosters an environment that is intentionally inclusive and allows us to really collaborate with each other and leverage each other’s expertise.”