What is Common Sense Lending?


What is Common Sense Lending | Great Midwest Bank

At Great Midwest Bank, we use the phrase “common sense lending” a lot. Maybe you’ve heard it before but what does it mean? Common sense lending is the method of looking beyond mainstream lending criteria to consider all circumstances individually. 

In other words, common sense lending means we take the time to get to know you and your situation, not just your credit score and income history. Why? Because those two numbers alone don’t tell the whole story about you. Instead, we go one step further with a more personal approach. Let’s take a closer look at how GMB’s common sense lending philosophy can help you.

No computers, no algorithms. Just a human and common sense.

Every loan application submitted to Great Midwest Bank is reviewed by a local loan officer like Ginny, John, or Melissa. Sometimes, even Jon Reetz, Senior Vice President at Great Midwest Bank reviews loans. Honest. Each of our experienced and knowledgeable loan officers pour over loan applications and applies his or her own common sense to it. This personal – and human – approach to application review ensures we are always doing what’s right for our customers.

Many customers come to us after being turned down for a loan by other banks or credit unions. Some are young adults with non-traditional forms of credit but with less-than-enough traditional credit. Others are entrepreneurs struggling to show a sustained income because clients can be slow to pay. The small snapshot bigger banks take of income aren’t enough to see that over the course of a year this self-employed go-getter does in fact earn a sizable income. These individuals want to buy a home and have adequate income to do it, but big banks and even credit unions wouldn’t necessarily qualify them for a loan because of their narrow view and reliance on computers and algorithms. 

At Great Midwest Bank, we take a step back and evaluate each customer personally. This common sense approach can help families get their first home or give them a way to renovate their kitchen and bathroom. 

An example of when Common Sense Lending matters

Meet Wendy, a doctor from Pennsylvania. She’s been offered a fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Wendy gives notice at her current job and starts looking for a home in the Madison area. When her two weeks at her current job are up, Wendy is in a pickle. 

Technically she’s unemployed because her new position hasn’t started yet. The good news is that she does have a letter of intent-to-hire from UW. Wendy finds a house on the west side of Madison and submits her loan application at a big credit union. That credit union denies her a loan because she is currently unemployed and cannot provide a pay stub from her current employer. 

Common sense tells us that Wendy is not a high-risk loan. She’s been working as a doctor for a few years, has minimal debt, and the promise of a steady paycheck very soon. But to a computer, her situation looks different. That’s why we prefer to have our loan officers study and discuss every application. And that’s why we call it common sense lending.

Great Midwest Bank’s goal is to protect our customers

It’s important to note that this common sense approach also means we’re responsible for your financial well-being and avoid putting our customers in a position to fail. Since we’re a family-run mutual bank and have been for the better part of a century, our financial performance in any given quarter isn’t particularly important as it might be to a Wall Street bank. That means we avoid exercising risky or unethical schemes or strategies when lending money.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is responsible for maintaining the stability of our nation’s financial system, which includes protecting consumers from financial scams and fraud. A large responsibility of the FDIC is holding financial institutions, like GMB, accountable for maintaining a certain amount of capital on their balance sheets. In other words, we need to have a set amount of cash on hand at all times so if you need access to your money, you can have it.

GMB goes beyond the FDIC-enforced minimums. We’re proud to say we’ve built a balance sheet that far exceeds the capital requirements of the FDIC and have maintained that way of doing business since 1935. It’s our way of protecting you and our community. Now that’s common sense!

We take care of our community because our community takes care of us 

Do you know the old adage “what goes around comes around?” We believe that when you treat people with respect and kindness good things will come back to you. 

Involvement in our community has been important to us since day one. Our customers are the reason we’re still in business 85 years later, and they inspire us each and every day to give back to our community. We strive to do this not only within the walls of our banks, but by volunteering our time with and monetary donations to nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, and Camp Hometown Heroes through our Simply Giving initiative

Our volunteer time reminds us of the wonderful communities we live in and makes us strive to be upstanding members of them each and every day. 

When you think about it, that’s just good old common sense too. 

What Common Sense Lending should mean to you

If you’re thinking about applying for a home loan, we want to talk with you and help you throughout the loan process. Great Midwest Bank’s common sense lending has helped many local people like yourself. So, if you’re looking to buy, build, renovate, or refinance, we put our community values to work to find the perfect personalized loan option just for you. If you have special circumstances in your life right now, don’t let that stop you from thinking about taking that next step. Let us put common sense to work for you.




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