Top 5 SBA 7(a) Lenders of 2022
With close to $18.1 billion in approved SBA 7(a) loans so far this year, we take a look at this year’s five biggest lenders by volume.
Small businesses in need of financing regularly turn to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s loan products. These loans have many uses and are offered at better terms and close faster than most alternatives, owing to the SBA’s guarantee of a large percentage of the balance.
For the 2021 fiscal year — SBA’s runs from October to September — 51,856 loans worth $36.5 billion were extended to small businesses through the attractive SBA 7(a) program. That absolutely shattered the previous record of $25.5 billion set in 2017.
This year, financing has slowed back to historical levels. Lending data from the SBA shows 33,951 7(a) loans were approved with a combined value of $18.1 billion through June. Although three months remain in SBA’s fiscal year, this year’s originations are unlikely to go far beyond the five-year average volume of $27 billion. The average SBA 7(a) loan had a principal of $533,032.
Below, we look at the top five SBA 7(a) lenders of 2022. These financial institutions are ranked based on their approved SBA 7(a) loan volumes between October 2021 and June 2022.
Although these five are strong institutions, one interesting dynamic comes out from SBA’s full data set. And that’s the sheer number of lenders operating in the SBA 7(a) space: more than 1,500. With so many options — each with different regional focuses, loan terms, and specialties — it can be challenging to find that perfect-fit bank for your next SBA 7(a) loan. We can help.
Who Are the Top 5 SBA 7(a) Lenders of 2022?
No. of Loans
Approved Volume ($MM)
Live Oak Bank
Salt Lake City
5. Byline Bank
Chicago-based Byline Bank lands in fifth place on our list, with $286.2 million in approved SBA 7(a) loans through the end of June. This figure includes 251 individual loans with an average principal just north of $1.1 million, far higher than the loan product’s average this year.
Byline has consistently originated significant small business lending, particularly for firms with a focus on exports. The Small Business Administration recognized Byline Bank as the International Trade Lender of the Year for 2021, owing to $37 million in financing last year through SBA’s International Trade Loan Program.
4. Celtic Bank
Celtic Bank Corp., takes fourth place, with 490 loans totaling $470.8 million in the first three quarters of SBA’s 2022 fiscal year. The Salt Lake City-based lender offers a wide variety of financing options, from the range of SBA loan products to specialty offerings like renewable energy loans.
Though founded relatively recently in 2001, Celtic Bank has made it onto SBA’s top 10 lender list for nearly a decade. The institution provides both 7(a) and 504 loans, though the latter makes up a significantly smaller portion of its activity. SBA data indicates Celtic’s 504 loan volume this fiscal year was $9.2 million across three loans at the end of June.
3. The Huntington National Bank
In third place, The Huntington National Bank’s approved loan volume totaled $648.2 million at the end of June. The lender took the top spot in terms of the number of loans, though. With an incredible 3,962 7(a) loans approved, the bank more than doubles next-place TD Bank’s 1,513 loans.
Founded in 1866, the Columbus, Ohio-based lender has more than 1,000 branches in 11 states. The regional institution has $177 billion in assets and offers personal banking in addition to its extensive small business services. In 2021, Huntington was the largest originator of SBA 7(a) loans by volume. At that time, CEO Steve Steinour was considering expanding its SBA lending operations beyond its current regional presence.
2. NewTek Small Business Finance
The second-largest SBA 7(a) lender so far this year, NewTek has 1,159 loans approved with a combined principal of $717.8 million. The average loan size comes in at just under $620,000, 16.2% above the SBA 7(a) average across all lenders.
The firm’s activity is growing, according to a press release put out at the start of July. NewTek Small Business Finance funded $200.6 million in SBA 7(a) loans in the second quarter this year, a more than 110% increase compared to the second quarter of 2021.
1. Live Oak Bank
The biggest SBA 7(a) lender of 2022 is Live Oak Bank. The Wilmington, N.C.-based institution commenced operations in 2008 — the youngest bank on our list — yet has consistently placed near the top of the list for the past several years. This year, Live Oak already has $1.2 billion across 845 approved SBA 7(a) loans. That’s 67% higher than NewTek in second place.
Live Oak’s performance last year was nothing short of impressive, too. The Motley Fool reported the bank closed $2.3 billion in SBA loans, far beyond second- and third-place Huntington and NewTek.
What are the best SBA 7(a) lenders for small businesses in 2022?
The top 5 SBA 7(a) lenders for small businesses in 2022 are Live Oak Bank, NewTek, Huntington, Celtic Bank, and Byline Bank. According to this article, NewTek has 1,159 loans approved with a combined principal of $717.8 million. The average loan size comes in at just under $620,000, 16.2% above the SBA 7(a) average across all lenders. According to this press release, NewTek funded $200.6 million in SBA 7(a) loans in the second quarter this year, a more than 110% increase compared to the second quarter of 2021.
What are the advantages of using an SBA 7(a) loan for small businesses?
The SBA 7(a) loan program offers small businesses several advantages, including flexibility in underwriting, often lower interest rates than other comparable financing options, long loan terms (up to 25 years for real estate, 10 years for equipment, and 10 years for working capital or inventory), flexible collateral requirements, and lenders are prohibited from charging certain fees, including insurance service fees, add-on interest charges, legal service fees (with some exceptions), and broker referral fees.
What are the eligibility requirements for an SBA 7(a) loan?
The eligibility requirements for an SBA 7(a) loan include:
- The business must meet the SBA's size standards for its particular industry.
- The business must have fewer than 500 employees and less than $7.5 million in revenue each year for the previous three years.
- The business must physically be based in the U.S. and operate within the U.S. and its territories.
- The business must operate for profit.
- Business owners must first have used other sources of financing, including personal funds, in order to qualify.
- Businesses must not be involved in lending, real estate, or speculation.
- Your business must operate for profit. Nonprofits and not-for-profit businesses are not eligible.
- You must also have some equity in the business — this could mean you already have a profitable business, or you could use your own personal equity as collateral.
- If you have any alternative financial resources, you must have used them first. For example, if you have a personal savings account or are able to get a personal loan, then you must first pursue those options before applying for an SBA 7(a) loan.
- The business owner cannot be on parole.
- You must be doing business in the U.S. or its territories.
What are the differences between SBA 7(a) and other types of small business loans?
The SBA 7(a) loan is one of several government-backed loans offered through traditional lending institutions. It is a popular loan for small businesses and start-ups, as it can be used for a variety of purposes, such as purchasing new equipment, repairing damaged real estate, expanding into new locations, and more. Other types of small business loans may have different terms and conditions, such as the SBA 504 loan, which is designed to help small businesses purchase or improve real estate or equipment. To compare the different types of SBA loans, check out our SBA loan comparison page.
What are the best strategies for applying for an SBA 7(a) loan?
The best strategies for applying for an SBA 7(a) loan include:
- Using good bookkeeping. Make sure your bookkeeping is up to date and accurate so you can answer any questions the lender has regarding the financial details of your business.
- Familiarizing yourself with the paperwork. For more on how to fill out the SBA 7(a) paperwork, see this page.
- Knowing your credit status. Generate a free credit report using one of the three main providers: Equifax, Transunion, or Experian.
- Bringing your plan. If you’re starting a new business, have a copy of your business plan. Or, bring a loan proposal if you already have a functioning business.
For more information, you can also contact SBA7a.Loans for personal guidance. They offer a free educational portal and a lender-matching service to help you on your way to success.