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From the Publisher's Page


Turning the Page on 2018


This issue of Great Lakes Banker is significant, as it puts a capstone on three decades of reporting the banking news of the Great Lakes states to our readers, who rely on relevant, up-to-date content on their industry. This issue offers another great example of addressing timely issues. This past November, Michigan voters legalized marijuana. As other states blaze their own paths toward decriminalization, Bill Pilkington returns with another installment on banking marijuana (p. 30).


In addition, turn the pages and you'll find features on how choices in banking can help your community, rethinking your employee review practices, and updates in the area of small claims in Michigan. In addition, we've got the usual industry, company, and career updates.


We invite you to dig into this issue, and we’re looking forward to meeting as many of you as we can at the various conventions and conferences coming up throughout the region in 2019.


Best Regards,


Greg O’Neil

Publisher, Great Lakes Banker

The December 2018 Issue Coming Soon to a

Mailbox Near You!!!

On the Cover of Great Lakes Banker

Bankers Healthcare Group: Delivering the Best of Both Worlds to Community Banks


BHG's approach combines the best qualities of a fintech and local banks


While community banks historically have considered fintechs and alternative lenders as competition, that mindset is evolving. Today, countless local banks are reaping the benefits of partnerships with nontraditional lenders and financial startups.

However, not all fintechs and alternative lenders are created equally; there are shiny new ones popping up regularly while others have been around for decades. Some are running as fast as they can and learning as they go, while others function to match the quality of a traditional lender, with a close eye on compliance.

One alternative lender making a nearly two-decade impact with community banks is Bankers Healthcare Group, a leading provider of financial solutions for licensed healthcare professionals. While BHG is neither a true fintech nor a traditional bank, it has the best parts of each‖technology, data, speed, marketing, underwriting, compliance, and customer service.

How is BHG different from the typical "fintech"? In many ways. BHG makes decisions backed by data, but takes a traditional approach to its business. The company is driven by technology, but fiercely focused on customer service. Its core values center around respect, loyalty, and consistency. These relatable traits are what have enabled BHG to establish relationships with a large network of community banks across the country. But it didn't happen overnight, and it didn't come without a lot of hard work.

Driven By Data and Insights

BHG was founded in 2001 by Al Crawford and brothers Bob and Eric Castro. Mr. Crawford spent his entire career in finance, while the Castros' background is in healthcare. Since day one, Mr. Crawford's focus has been on building relationships with community banks.

BHG's owners founded the company because they identified an opportunity: Doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and nurses—and the specialties within each of those buckets—need commercial loans, but their demanding schedules simply don't provide them the luxury of leaving the office to apply for a loan in a traditional setting. Furthermore, many licensed healthcare professionals have expressed frustration with lenders not truly understanding their business.

BHG knew there had to be a better way and went about building a fast and hassle‑free way for healthcare professionals to get medical practice financing and commercial loans. With the BHG platform, customers complete a simple online application at their convenience. BHG responds within 24 hours and provides funds to approved applicants in as few as three days. To date, BHG has worked with more than 110,000 licensed healthcare professionals to provide more than $3.5 billion in financial solutions.

BHG's analytics department has acquired an enormous amount of data during the past 17 years. The insights are used to target millions of licensed healthcare professionals and to design the types of financial products they want. More than a dozen people on the analytics team work closely with BHG's full‑service, in‑house marketing department to develop highly targeted campaigns to millions of healthcare professionals in the U.S. through various mediums.

"We did our due diligence before making a decision and I have to say they are a well‑run organization from top to bottom, from what we saw. The analytics that they employ is much better than we as bankers normally require in this type of lending. They know the business inside and out," said Steve Huston, CEO/President/Owner of BANKWEST (Minnesota). "BHG hires some of the best people and gives them the tools needed to provide quality loans for community banks. Small banks like us don't often have access to products or services that the big banks can offer and this is an effective way for us to compete."

Building By One Bank at a Time

On the other side of BHG's business is the team dedicated to working with community banks. Mr. Crawford was the original bank representative covering a client bank base that was centered in Oklahoma, Illinois, and Minnesota. Each subsequent BHG bank representative has trained with and understands the high standards that he expects.

"What truly makes BHG special is our relationships with our community banks," Crawford continues. "In fact, we like to think of ourselves as an extension of our banks—a service that provides them with the opportunity to grow."

Banks purchase BHG loans through the company's proprietary web‑based platform. This secure, online system allows for daily sale and delivery of medical loans while helping BHG service the growing loan demand from community banks. The platform – located at BHGBanks.com – includes five primary methods whereby a single loan or group of loans can be purchased. It has been a highly effective distribution channel whereby a bank can approve the loan program and purchase loans according to their underwriting standards the very next day. BHG's 2018 sales distribution has averaged $4.0 million per day, making it manageable for banks to review and underwrite loans of interest. New Loans are typically posted by 11 a.m. EST each day and, as with all BHG loans, a complete credit file is available for review prior to purchase.

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Great Lakes Banker is published by Michigan Banker LLC © 2016