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Gearing Up for Pandemic-Related Activities – A Guide for the Chief Credit Officer 4/3/2020

Context – Every portfolio is different, so each bank will need to develop its own response. The CARES Act just passed on March 27, and most banks are huddling to figure out how to best serve customers and manage the portfolio. The situation is changing rapidly, but here’s a starter list of things to consider right now. 

1. Segment based on your portfolio composition. The economic shock will affect different customers in different ways, and your responses will also differ. Refresh your understanding of the number of customers by type: retail, mortgage, CRE, hospitality, restaurant, retail, nonprofit, agriculture, etc. Knowing the number of customers by type can help you estimate the coming workload. Prioritize based on industry and current risk rating, then use that list to identify the customers you want to talk to first.

2. CARES Act. Become familiar with SBA programs – new Paycheck Protection, revised Economic Injury Disaster Loans. 

3. Develop your menu of policy responses. Make sure your priorities are protecting your existing customers from bankruptcy and therefore protecting the bank’s capital. Some temporary relief responses should be developed right now. For example, encouraging your customers to make use of CARES Act programs. You can also offer full forbearance for three or six months, or interest only payments for a limited time. Also, be prepared to identify which customers are definite keepers versus which ones you turn over to the competition.

4. Prepare the team. You will need to reconfigure existing teams to handle the increased volume of work.

a. Assemble. Put together your response team, recruited from all the job functions from branch staff to admin and consider recently retired alumni. Organize into teams, such as customer facing, intake, processing, documentation, loan ops.

b. Train. Be sure to train specifically on what you want each team to do. For example, the customer facing team should be trained in knowing the bank’s priorities, how to talk to customers during this time, the options they can share with customers, and knowing how to start the process.

c. Communicate. Consider frequent, even daily, communications with the team. Remind them of the priorities, keep them up to date on any changes, and gather feedback from the teams.

d. Deploy. Make sure each team is fully deployed. They should have their calling lists or know what’s in their queue. Management can help by identifying and resolving roadblocks.

5. Use technology. In times like this, the volume of activities and paper can easily overwhelm existing processes. Now is the time to organize the work using whatever technologies are available to you.

a. Documents. Have customers send in documents through secure email or upload to your document portal. Put things on shared drives that are accessible to the right teams. Name the documents clearly. If your workflow is paper based, evaluate optical character recognition technology such as Fincura. 

b. Signatures. Start using one of the major electronic signature solutions such as Adobe Sign or DocuSign. Digital signatures are fast, convenient, secure, and widely accepted, plus they reduce the work of handling paper. Check if your state allows electronic notarization and, if so, consider using a solution such as Notarize to close late-stage deals.

c. Scheduling. Use shared calendars to coordinate customer meetings. Consider consolidating scheduling with one team.

d. Workflow. If you have a workflow solution, put it to work with new processes. If you don’t have a workflow system, create and publish a process and use spreadsheets to keep track of work in process for each step.

e. Videoconference. Videoconferencing has finally become easy to use, and widely accessible. Make use of any of the excellent solutions out there for internal and external communications to provide a more personal touch. 

6. Communications. In times of crisis more communication is warranted, and now is the time to increase communication with your customers.  In addition to individual live conversations, consider daily website updates, press releases, CEO blog posts, digital advertising, email updates, text alerts, and so forth. 


a. SBA’s Coronavirus Relief Options (

b. The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act (