Small and large businesses with a wide range of funding needs may find a viable alternative to traditional loans from Bank of Cardiff. This lender is willing to work with companies with less-than-perfect credit scores and can offer a variety of options for merchants in need of quick funding for time-sensitive projects or investments. However, startups, new businesses and companies with very poor credit scores are not eligible for Bank of Cardiff funding.
Despite its name, Bank of Cardiff isn’t an actual bank; it’s an alternative lender based in San Diego, California with a regional office in Orange County. This small company is in the business of providing a diverse range of “industry-specific” funding options to businesses in need of cash for working capital, equipment upgrades and growth opportunities. Billing itself as “non-traditional,” Bank of Cardiff reaches into markets not covered by most alternative lenders, going beyond MCAs to provide small and large business loans, lines of credit, accounts receivable financing and more.
A focus on growth for its customers is the guiding principle at Bank of Cardiff, but the content of its website and social media profiles doesn’t clarify how the lender achieves this goal. Although the website contains a great deal of information, much of it is repetitive and doesn’t provide straightforward details for merchants in need of loans. This requires potential customers to contact the company or submit an application to discover their loan options.
The inclusion of a fraud alert policy and information on how to prevent fraud indicates Bank of Cardiff prioritizes the security of its customers. Few alternative lenders have such policies on their websites despite statistics showing 25 percent of lending fraud in digital markets results from fake accounts.
Bank of Cardiff accepts applications from businesses with:A minimum FICO score of 550 One or more years of time in operation No more than 6 negative ending days (NEDs) in the last six months
By making funding available to merchants with less-than-stellar credit and allowing a generous number of NEDs, this lender serves as an alternative to the stringent requirements of banks. It also opens the door for companies to receive the funding they need to grow and succeed if they’re rejected by other “fast-cash” lenders.
Merchants with lower credit scores, smaller monthly revenues and shorter business histories are welcome to apply for funding. The team at Central Diligence Group may waive one or more of the stipulations for qualifying if the company’s file suggests the business is viable and has potential.
This willingness to look beyond basic financial details is what sets many alternative lenders apart from banks and other traditional funding providers. Rigid requirements and long application processes are impractical for some of today’s unique business models, and the uncertainty of changing markets requires access to lenders with knowledge of the challenges modern small business owners face.
The Central Diligence Group website proclaims the company’s team “goes to great lengths to provide [their] clients and referral partners with the best possible customer service,” suggesting merchants can expect the lender to be attentive and understanding throughout the loan process.
This lender works primarily with companies in industries where seasonal changes in cash flow are common or income is dependent on a fluctuating client base. Retail stores, restaurants and medical establishments face similar financial challenges, including the need to cover payroll expenses, restock inventory and update equipment. Central Diligence Group also helps its partner ISOs to serve these and similar industries in need of MCA providers.
Central Diligence Group is willing to work with several industries other MCA and fast-cash loan providers often turn away, including:
Because these industries are considered high-risk, most lenders are either hesitant to provide funding or prefer not to take the chance of extending a loan. Central Diligence Group’s website states the lender “works with most industries,” which suggests its team has a different attitude when it comes to providing financial services.
Capital Diligence Group’s terms are standard for an MCA provider, ranging from 3 to 12 months. However, as is typical with these types of loans, the payback period is much shorter than what a merchant would be offered with a traditional loan.
This highlights one of the drawbacks of fast-cash lending in general and MCAs in particular. Short term lengths mean large daily or weekly payments regardless of income, and although Central Diligence Group offers some level of flexibility to its customers, the terms for which a merchant qualifies may still pose a risk if cash flow doesn’t pick up as expected or an investment fails to pay off. Because of this, MCAs should be taken on with caution.
The initial application process with Central Diligence Group requires merchants to submit a one-page application signed and dated within the past 30 days and bank statements from the most recent four months.
Starting the application process requires contacting the lender via a simple form on its website. Interested merchants provide name, email address and phone number information and receive a reply from Central Diligence Group to “start a conversation” about a loan. No indication is given of the average time it takes to hear back from the lender. However, once an application has been submitted, funding may be provided in as little as two days.
Additional information to expedite the lending process is required, but Central Diligence Group gives no details aside from stating “a list of closing documents” must be submitted in addition to the application. Most MCA lenders request details about a merchant’s financial profile and may run a credit check, but merchants must speak with Central Diligence Group directly for more information.
Merchants qualifying for funding from Central Diligence Group can expect factor rates between 1.15 and 1.37. Low to average by MCA standards, the actual fee amount a merchant pays depends on the level of risk Central Diligence Group takes by granting funding. The better a merchant’s file looks, the lower the rate.
To determine the full cost of a loan, merchants must multiply the loan amount by the factor rate. A $100,000 loan becomes $137,000 at the highest rate, a significant increase with the potential to negatively impact a company’s budget. A high rate accompanied by short loan terms creates a situation in which a merchant may have to pay tens of thousands of dollars per week to avoid defaulting. Projected cash flows should be reviewed and a budget for meeting regular payment deadlines created before a loan agreement is signed.
As a first-position lender, Central Diligence Group prefers the merchants with which it works to have no other active loans at the time of application. No information is available on whether or not this lender offers to pay off existing loans to attain first-position status or if companies attempting to stack loans will be penalized. Central Diligence Group will, however, assist in underwriting stacked loans for ISO partners accepting second- and third-position applications.
No document processing fees are charged for applying for a loan from Central Diligence Group.
Businesses with credit scores ranking from tier 1 to tier 5 may qualify for funding from this lender, and origination fees are determined based on what box a merchant scores in. Credit rating, cash flow and other information affect both eligibility and fees. Central Diligence Group may charge anywhere from 2 to 6 percent of a loan’s total value to handle the application and the details of securing the loan.
On a $100,000 loan, merchants may pay between $2,000 and $6,000 to compensate the lender for its services. Lower credit scores and higher risk make loans more difficult to secure, so a company with a questionable business profile pays more for the opportunity to receive the funding other lenders are hesitant to provide.
Merchants working with Central Diligence Group can apply for renewal once 55 percent of an existing loan is paid off. The lender is committed to establishing “lasting relationships” and providing superior service to clients, but merchants must still exercise discernment when deciding whether to seek renewal.
Some MCA lenders will offer better terms if a company’s financial situation has improved during the terms of the initial loan. This could mean lower factor rates and longer terms on a renewal, resulting in a more affordable second loan. However, because MCA fees are higher than those of traditional loans, renewing without a thorough assessment of budget and need could put a merchant in a dangerous place financially. Merchants should discuss their situations with Central Diligence Group to determine if renewal is the best option.
The structure of MCA loans precludes the practice of interest forgiveness, but Central Diligence Group does offer some relief to merchants able to pay off balances early. This practice can be helpful for those operating businesses with expected seasonal changes in cash flow. Taking out a loan in a slow season poses less of a risk for merchants expecting a surge in sales in the near future. When extra cash comes in, it can be put toward paying off the MCA loan, saving money on fees and eliminating the deduction of payments from daily credit card sales.
Once funding has been obtained from Central Diligence Group, a merchant may use it for any type of business expense. Although fast-cash loans are generally sought in the event of emergencies, an MCA can also be useful if a unique business opportunity arises and taking the time to go through the process of applying for a bank loan would mean losing out.
It’s common for businesses experiencing slow seasons to use MCA loans for:
Central Diligence Group also cites its loan products as being beneficial for businesses looking to expand. However, because MCAs are expensive and cash flow may be even more uncertain during expansions or renovations, it may be best for small businesses in stages of growth to look for a different form of funding.
It’s hard to find information from previous customers about their experiences with Central Diligence Group. The only reviews available for the lender appear on its Facebook page, and none contain any details to explain why or how the 5 out of 5 rating was earned. With no recent feedback on Facebook and a complete lack of reviews on Google, merchants researching lending options are left with little to go on when comparing Central Diligence Group to other alternative lenders.
The company’s LinkedIn profile provides only a small amount of information in addition to what can be found on its website. Contacting Central Diligence Group seems to be the only way to learn more about its offerings and the kind of customer service that can be expected when working with the company.
At this time, Central Diligence Group isn’t listed on the BBB website, nor does the lender carry any notable accreditations. In March of 2018, deBanked profiled the company’s growing role as an underwriter for other funding providers, citing its expanding portfolio of diverse clients.
Businesses seeking loans from Central Diligence Group must contact the company to begin the application process and receive information about the loan terms for which they qualify. The company also welcomes communications from ISOs interested in partnerships.