Becoming a commercial loan officer opens up a wealth of opportunities, not the least of which are an excellent starting salary and diverse job openings to consider. Getting there, however, takes preparation and time. If you are interested in becoming a commercial loan officer, what are the steps you need to take to get there? Here are the basics, providing you a framework for snagging one of these highly valued positions.

To start, what exactly is a commercial loan officer? In short, a commercial loan officer is a manager for loans to businesses. They monitor the loan process from start to finish, providing guidance during the application stage and assessing the applicant’s financial qualifications for a loan. In some scenarios, commercial loan officers also supervise mortgage loans for businesses that want to purchase real estate.

Commercial Loan Officer Requirements

There are several stringent requirements an individual must meet in order to become a commercial loan officer. A central requirement is having a bachelor’s degree either in finance, business, accounting or a related business field.

Commercial loan officers must also obtain a federal license in order to perform their jobs in some cases. In some states,  a state license is required in addition to a federal license. In order to get these licenses, aspiring commercial loan officers must complete at least 20 hours of lending education from a reputable provider. Institutions that offer such courses include the American Banking Association and Independent Community Banks of America. If a job has a mortgage component, a commercial loan officer will also need to be licensed as a mortgage loan officer.

A Day in the Life of a Commercial Loan Officer

One of the primary tasks for a commercial loan officer is to mitigate risk for a bank or financial institution while still providing business customers with the loans they need. This means carefully vetting financial data from the business customer. Documentation required from a borrower can include:

  • Tax Returns
  • Balance Sheet
  • Income Statement
  • Cash Flow
  • Bank Statements
  • AR/AP Documents

All of this documentation must then be analyzed in order to get a thorough picture of the applicant’s financial status. Historically, this meant combing through analog data, most of which would come into the commercial loan officer’s hands in different formats. For example, a business might have financial statements in Excel and tax documentation in PDFs, as an example. Commercial loan officers would then have to work with this data manually, entering essential data points into the origination software so that they could adequately assess an applicant’s qualifications.

Fortunately,  new technologies  are making the lives of commercial loan officers much easier. Digital solutions such as FlashSpread enable automatic intake of data from applicants. Automating the analysis process allows commercial loan officers to make accurate credit decisions quickly and with fewer errors.

After the initial analysis stage, the commercial loan officer then oversees all remaining stages of the loan process through to closing day. It’s a key role with wide-ranging implications for business and bank alike. How effective a commercial loan officer is in their job can make a serious impact on the finances of a borrower and a financial institution.