Calgary Herald



While large, multinatio­nal banks might avert their eyes and shift their gaze to greener pastures as Alberta’s economy recovers, ATB Financial is all in.

“One of the things that makes AT B Financial unique is our ability to walk at two speeds ,” says Wellington Holbrook, AT B’ s vice-president of business and agricultur­e.

“This is where we are and who we are, so we stay open for business for those entreprene­urs who are involved in businesses that are growing and doing well and for those that are going through some struggles.

“As much as we may not like the current situation, it shows us what we’re made of,” he says. “And we are resilient people who are finding a way forward.”

In fact, small- and mid-sized businesses are moving forward despite the downturn, and in a time when facing the numbers can seem a wee bit dismal, Holbrook sees hope in some of the statistics.

For instance, in the past year, ATB grew its loans to small and mid-sized businesses by almost $700 million.

There is still plenty going on in Alberta, and more than 95 per cent of ATB loans to small- and medium-sized businesses are provided to companies not directly involved in oil and gas.

As the province’s largest Albertabas­ed financial institutio­n, Holbrook says ATB Financial is in the en viable position of understand­ing first-hand the needs of the province’s entreprene­urs. This knowledge helps it craft innovative and helpful solutions for its clients.

“We have flexibilit­y to innovate and test out possible solutions and products without the fear of potentiall­y catastroph­ic failure that can paralyze some of the larger financial institutio­ns in the country,” says Holbrook.

“Our goal is to be leaders in innovating and research and developmen­t, and we’re doing it.”

For instance, AT BF in an ci al’ s very successful foray into crowd funding last year made the future of crowd lending look quite promising.

After the accolades it received with the rollout of its Alberta Boost Ron line crowd-funding platform, ATB launched a new way to support small businesses through crowd lending via ATB LendR.

The process sees entreprene­urs promote and pitch their business cases. Whenthey reach 50 per cent of their funding goal, ATB provides the remaining half to complete the loan.

ATB then collects and distribute­s payments and interest back to the lenders.

“This is going to fund the next generation of entreprene­urs as well as providing those who have built their own businesses a means to give back and support others in the community trying to do the same,” says Holbrook.

Once a full roster of lenders is in place, ATB LendR will be ready to receive financing applicatio­ns.

“We are of course going to be responsibl­e and thoughtful about the risks we take and how we move forward, but we also refuse to let fear of risk keep us from innovating and finding new ways to help our clients build their businesses and their futures,” says Holbrook.

“We’re doing some very cool stuff.”

 ?? PHOTOS: WIL ANDRUSCHAK ?? Wellington Holbrook with ATB Financial says the company stands behind Alberta businesses in good times and bad.
PHOTOS: WIL ANDRUSCHAK Wellington Holbrook with ATB Financial says the company stands behind Alberta businesses in good times and bad.

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