With AgAmerica Lending’s new Chief Credit Officer, Courtney Eelman, you’ll always get what’s right, not what is easy.
Ag lending, like the ag industry itself, is a sector that is unique from all others. It also requires unique knowledge and experience to both be successful and do what’s right for the client. That need for experience and know-how is evident in AgAmerica’s Chief Credit Officer, Courtney Eelman, who works by the motto “Do what’s right, not what is easy.” With a wealth of experience and knowledge in financing ag operations, it’s a definite advantage to have her on our ag lending team. Explore her background and experience, and hear some of her bits of wisdom for those considering an agricultural loan.
A Wealth of Ag Lending Know-How
Eelman’s foray into ag lending came at the beginning of her career, thanks to some good advice from her mother. She had just graduated from the University of South Florida in 1999 with a degree in Finance, and had been offered a position in the centralized underwriting department of a major ag lender. Concerned with her own lack of experience in agriculture, Eelman looked to her mother for guidance.
“I had offers from other banks,” Eelman said. “I remember my mother telling me at the time that farming in Florida would always be big business and likely be more stable than other businesses,” Eelman shared. “She helped point me in the right direction.”
Eelman learned about the ag industry as she worked. “I learned about the Central Florida agricultural industries we financed on-the-job from the people I worked with, personal research, and the clients we financed.” All told, she spent 15 years with Farm Credit “learning all aspects of the business and eventually working my way up to Chief Credit Officer before deciding to join AgAmerica.” Now, she’s “excited to bring my credit background and industry knowledge to AgAmerica Lending.” It’s a boon for AgAmerica and our clients, because Eelman has a lot of knowledge to share.
Words of Wisdom from Eelman
Eelman is happy to share her ag lending knowledge with clients, including the three pearls of wisdom below:
- Be Forthcoming – Eelman shared “It might sound like a cliché, but honesty is always the best policy. If a client has had a bad year or has some blemishes in his/her credit history, don’t be afraid to tell us about it. In fact, it is better we hear it from the client than to discover it on our own. We understand the seasonal and cyclical nature of agriculture and that there will be good and bad years. We can usually work with clients that have had financial set-backs as long as we have confidence they are going to do what they say they are going to do. We want to build relationships with our clients and like all relationships, they must be built on trust.”
- Be Prepared – Eelman said, “One of the biggest delays in providing a client a credit decision is due to their delay in providing us with current financial information.”
- Don’t Procrastinate – Eelman offered, “At AgAmerica, we specialize in providing assistance to agricultural clients when other lenders shy away. One or two poor crop seasons will not scare us off. However, the sooner a potential client calls us, the more options we will have to place them into a program to improve cash flow and recapitalize their business.”
Eelman is ready to build relationships with clients. “Although I’m the CCO and my main focus is managing the credit risk of the portfolio, I appreciate the value of building long-term relationships,” she shared. “I understand there is more to assessing a borrower’s long-term viability than just analyzing data. I believe my job is to work in partnership with the sales team to foster these relationships and ensure our clients have the opportunity to tell their story so that we can provide the best possible financing solution for them,” Eelman maintained.
If you’d like to start a relationship with AgAmerica Lending, contact us to talk with our land loan experts about how our custom loan packages could benefit your ag operation.
Chief Credit Officer
Courtney Eelman joined AgAmerica Lending in July 2017 as the Chief Credit Officer. Courtney brings with her over 17 years of experience in underwriting with 15 years dedicated to agricultural lending.