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Sonoma Bank Uses BancLease Product To Launch Its Own Leasing Program

BancLease software provides Sonoma Bank with end-to-end leasing capability.

Sonoma Valley Bank, Sonoma, Calif., has selected end-to-end leasing software from BancLease, Sikeston, Mo., to assist in establishing a leasing department in its two branches.

The BancLease software provides banks with the ability to quote lease payments to its customers and yields to the bank; to prepare all necessary leasing documents; print amortization schedules; calculate after-tax yields; e-mail documents to branches capability; calculate irregular (flexible) payment leases plus a database for saving lease quotes. Complete installation of the BancLease software takes less than five minutes.

Prior to starting the leasing program, Sonoma Valley Bank considered itself a full service bank whose lending portfolio consisted of customer loans. "Occasionally we would bump into a situation where one of our commercial customers would acquire equipment through a leasing vendor down the road," said Mel Switzer, president of $150 million Sonoma Valley Bank said. "It was evident that some of our customers did not want to make a loan for equipment; they wanted to lease it, and neighboring vendors gave our customers that opportunity.

In order to stay competitive, the bank began its own leasing program with the help of BancLease. Instead of sending customers elsewhere for a lease agreement, it can serve them in-house. The leasing program helps customers avoid having to look to other entities for alternative financing methods.

Sonoma Valley Bank primarily leases equipment to local municipal and county departments and the winery industry. It leases everything from fire trucks to wine barrels. "We tend to lease expensive or unique equipment to our customers," Switzer said. "In our community we have volunteer fire departments that don't have extensive budgets for costly fire equipment. Leasing has been a way for us to help them acquire the equipment they desperately need to do their job."

Five loan officers serve commercial customers through the leasing program. One officer is the primary expert and completes most of the commercial leases using the BancLease software, and the other four discuss financing options with customers who have questions about the leasing or loaning options. Several of the loan officers attended the BancLease training seminar before launching the leasing program. According to Switzer, "Leasing is a mysterious part of the lending world for loan officers, but BancLease does an excellent job of educating officers on how to manage a leasing department and removes the mystery."

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