RMA improves eMentor product user experience with major upgrades, including a partnership with Vertical IQ, in 2020 and 2021.
When eMentor was first created in 2000, its major selling point was that it provided “all the information you need […] conveniently in one place,” and its overarching goal was to provide “greater efficiencies and increased productivity for just about all the departments in your institution.” Almost 20 years later, eMentor has made major strides in its offerings (and marketing brochures, as demonstrated below), but the underlying message remains the same: eMentor is designed to be a go-to, one-stop-shop, for all your credit and lending needs.
At its core, eMentor is an on-demand resource to support key credit risk and banking associates as they strive to elevate their skills as bankers. The platform is separated into three main sections: the Industry Resource Center, the Training Resource, and the Library, which offers reference materials.
- The Industry Resource Center offers tools any banking associate can take advantage of, regardless of his or her position. A lender qualifying a new customer can use the industry-specific call preparation briefs or overviews to demonstrate to a new customer that he or she understands the prospective borrower’s business, while an underwriter or credit analysts can utilize Statement Studies’ benchmarking data or the Credit Underwriting & Risks section in their credit memos to bolster the financial or industry analysis sections.
- The Training Resource Center offers two sets of best practice texts, one for commercial lending and one for commercial real estate, that are designed to be used as a training or reference tool in lieu of resources like Wikipedia or YouTube. The section also contains worksheets and templates available in Word and Excel format, as well as case studies and the Credit Risk Analysis Modules that will be discussed later in this article. An Exams section is also available to users, with a set of fundamentals exams to encourage users to benchmark their knowledge against industry standards, and practice exams for the Credit Risk Certification.
- The Library remains an underutilized gem within eMentor. It contains both the current issue and past articles from The RMA Journal, as well as webinars related to changes in accounting methods and best practices.
While eMentor’s mission has not changed materially since its inception in 2002, the product and its resources have. In 2020 alone, the eMentor product team made a variety of improvements to better support its users, as follows:
- February 2020 – 25 new Credit Risk Analysis modules on a variety of fundamental commercial lending topics, such as guarantees, current portion of long-term debt, covenants, problem loans, and cash flow were added to eMentor’s Training Resource Center. RMA’s instructional designers created the three- to five-minute microlearning modules to provide an interactive explanation and exercise around key concepts.
- March 2020 – 43 Credit Consideration reports were added to the Industry Resource Center to help credit and lending professionals understand the complexities of lending to particular industries. For example, did you know potted plants are classified as inventory, whereas plants rooted in the ground are typically included with land? The Uniform Commercial Code differentiates between the two; therefore, a lender should be aware that their lien on growing crops may be subordinated to a real estate mortgage. Having industry-specific knowledge like this can save a banker a lot of time, money, and headache down the line.
- April 2020 – One of the challenges associated with a comprehensive product like eMentor is that many users are overwhelmed when they first subscribe. It can be difficult to know where to start and how to take advantage of all the resources available. With that in mind, the eMentor team created its monthly “First Friday Lunch & Learn” webinars. These complimentary webinars are exclusively for eMentor subscribers and inform users about updates made to the product, best practices for usage, and contains a robust Q&A session.
- August 2020 – Like most products, eMentor has undergone several transformations since it was first created in 2000. Initially called LEARN and only available on CD-ROM, the product went online in 2002 and has since been renamed, restructured, and recolored a variety of times. Its most recent transformation was designed to better align the product with RMA’s HQ website in terms of look and navigation to make for a more seamless and intuitive experience for users.
New Updates coming February 15, 2021
As demonstrated previously, eMentor users have enjoyed several updates and additions since the beginning of 2020. However, on February 15, 2021, eMentor will undergo one of its most significant improvements to date.
- Industry report provider changing to Vertical IQ - Vertical IQ, a leading industry intelligence provider for financial institutions, will provide 250 sector and industry reports designed to turn users into industry experts, helping them win, grow, and retain more business. With a strong history of providing timely and actionable resources to business development professionals, Vertical IQ’s sales-focused intelligence, combined with RMA’s credit considerations and statement studies resources, will ensure users have a holistic and complete view of prospective and current borrowers.
- Increase in number of industries represented from ~375 to over 1,000 – In curating the 250 reports that eMentor users will have access to, the eMentor team painstakingly analyzed metrics such as current report usage, keyword and NAICS code search frequencies, Statement Studies submissions, and general market trends. As a result of this systematic approach, eMentor’s industry coverage will increase from roughly 375 industries to over 1,000.
- Integration of industry reports onto eMentor platform – To access RMA’s industry reports, users currently must download individual PDFs. For a banking professional focused on acquiring information quickly and efficiently, this function is less-than-ideal. To create a more seamless experience, the industry reports and statement studies data will all be integrated into the eMentor platform and organized by function. The five resulting sections – Industry Snapshot, Financial Discussion, Credit Underwriting & Risks, Needs Analysis, and Resources – will increase users’ abilities to find the content they need quickly and easily.
For almost 20 years, eMentor has brought together industry intelligence, commercial lending best practices, and training resources from across the marketplace and made it available when and how it is needed. Whether you are underwriting a new loan, conducting an annual review or renewal, working out a loan, or performing a credit review, eMentor is designed to give you the confidence that you have fully considered every aspect of lending to a business. This combination of resources is not available anywhere else, and the eMentor team will continue to work tirelessly to improve a product that has become a staple in the day-to-day lives of thousands of industry professionals.
Carly Edmondson is Senior Manager, Risk Products, at RMA. She can be reached at email@example.com.