At the onset of the pandemic, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program provided much-needed liquidity to eligible businesses through the U.S. banking system’s lending platforms. Huntington and other banks supported existing commercial customers by helping them leverage financial-relief resources to deliver liquidity during a time of need.
Need for liquidity
Response from banking industry
For most of 2020, the strategic focus for companies was to maintain adequate liquidity and, in general, banks worked with their customers to meet the need and manage through the hardships. However, the effects of the shutdowns were not consistent across all industries, and some companies thrived at record levels while others struggled to maintain operations. Certain technology, metals, lumber, commodities and manufacturing companies generated record earnings, while those affected most by the hardships of COVID restrictions had to actively manage operations to reduce costs.
New challenges arise
The bank lending and commercial finance markets also have performed disparately through this historically unique period. During 2020, certain banks became inwardly focused, while others sought to grow market share. Pricing increased and structures tightened in 2020 due to the perceived increased risk and uncertainty. HNB and HBC opportunistically acted on the market disruption to materially grow intrinsically through new customer financings and geographic growth, including a West Coast expansion and recent expansions in ABL Vertical specialties. Huntington also grew its asset-based lending business as a result of its acquisition of TCF Financial in the second quarter of 2021.
After weathering the initial disruption brought on by the pandemic, businesses were challenged with ramping up operations and competing in the COVID era. By 2021, most commercial companies had resumed operations at a more normal level, and the finance markets had generally rebounded with pricing and structure terms returning to pre-pandemic levels. However, through 2021, the trends of labor shortages, supply-chain issues and inflation impacted nearly all commercial businesses.