The Purpose of Underwriting Processes in the MCA Industry

underwriting processes

In the Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) industry, underwriting is a critical process that determines whether a merchant qualifies for a cash advance. Proper underwriting processes help mitigate risk, ensuring that the merchant can repay the advance while protecting the lender’s investment. This blog post will explain the purpose of underwriting in the MCA industry and provide a step-by-step guide on how to effectively underwrite a merchant cash advance.

Why are Underwriting Processes so Important in the MCA Industry?

  1. Risk Assessment: Underwriting processes allows lenders to evaluate the risk associated with providing a cash advance to a merchant. By analyzing various financial metrics, lenders can determine the likelihood of repayment.
  2. Informed Decision-Making: The underwriting processes provide a comprehensive view of a merchant’s financial health, enabling lenders to make informed decisions about whether to approve or decline an advance.
  3. Fraud Prevention: Thorough underwriting helps identify potential fraudulent activities by scrutinizing the merchant’s financial records and transaction history.
  4. Regulatory Compliance: Underwriting processes ensures that the lender complies with industry regulations and guidelines, protecting both the lender and the merchant from legal issues.

Step-by-Step Guide to Underwriting a Merchant Cash Advance

Step 1: Initial Application Review

Action: Collect and review the merchant’s initial application. Purpose: To gather basic information about the merchant and their business, including business details, requested advance amount, and intended use of funds. Considerations: Ensure all required fields are completed and verify the accuracy of the information provided.

Step 2: Financial Document Collection

Action: Request financial documents from the merchant. Purpose: To obtain detailed financial data needed for a thorough assessment. Documents to Collect:

  • Recent bank statements (last 3-6 months)
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Tax returns

Step 3: Bank Statement Parsing

Action: Parse and analyze the merchant’s bank statements. Purpose: To assess cash flow, revenue consistency, and financial stability. Considerations: Look for frequent overdrafts, negative balances, large unexplained withdrawals, and inconsistent deposit patterns.

Step 4: Cash Flow Analysis

Action: Conduct a detailed cash flow analysis. Purpose: To determine the merchant’s ability to generate sufficient revenue to repay the advance. Considerations: Calculate the average daily balance, monthly revenue, and expenditure patterns.

Step 5: Credit History Evaluation

Action: Check the merchant’s credit history. Purpose: To evaluate the merchant’s creditworthiness and past financial behavior. Considerations: Review credit scores, payment history, outstanding debts, and any derogatory marks.

Step 6: Business Performance Assessment

Action: Assess the merchant’s overall business performance. Purpose: To understand the merchant’s market position and operational efficiency. Considerations: Analyze sales trends, industry stability, competitive landscape, and growth potential.

Step 7: Risk Profile Development

Action: Develop a risk profile based on the collected data. Purpose: To categorize the merchant’s risk level and inform the funding decision. Considerations: Balance positive indicators (consistent revenue, strong credit history) against negative ones (frequent overdrafts, high debt levels).

Step 8: Decision Making

Action: Make an informed decision on the cash advance application. Purpose: To approve or decline the advance based on the risk assessment. Considerations: If approving, determine the advance amount, repayment terms, and any conditions or covenants.

Step 9: Offer Presentation

Action: Present the funding offer to the merchant. Purpose: To communicate the terms of the advance and address any questions or concerns. Considerations: Ensure clarity on repayment terms, fees, and any additional requirements.

Step 10: Documentation and Agreement

Action: Prepare and execute the necessary documentation. Purpose: To formalize the agreement between the lender and the merchant. Considerations: Include all terms and conditions, and ensure both parties understand their obligations.

Step 11: Funding and Disbursement

Action: Disburse the approved funds to the merchant. Purpose: To provide the merchant with the cash advance. Considerations: Ensure that the disbursement process is efficient and that funds are transferred securely.

The underwriting process is a vital step in the MCA industry, ensuring that both the lender and the merchant are protected. By following a structured and thorough underwriting process, lenders can make informed decisions, manage risk effectively, and maintain a healthy portfolio.

Understanding the purpose and steps involved in underwriting can significantly enhance your ability to provide reliable and responsible funding. Ready to optimize your underwriting process and improve your funding decisions? Contact us today to learn more about how LendSaaS can help you achieve your business goals.

Top Red Flags to Watch for When Underwriting in the MCA Industry

In the Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) industry, underwriting is crucial for assessing the financial health and risk profile of potential clients. A thorough underwriting process helps lenders make informed decisions, minimizing the risk of defaults and financial losses. Identifying red flags during the underwriting process is essential to ensure the viability of the cash advance. Here are the main red flags brokers should watch out for when underwriting.

1. Frequent Overdrafts

What to Look For: Multiple instances of overdrafts within a short period.

Why It’s a Red Flag: Frequent overdrafts indicate that the merchant regularly spends more money than they have in their account, suggesting poor financial management and cash flow issues. This raises concerns about their ability to manage additional financial obligations.

2. Negative Ending Balances

What to Look For: Consistent negative balances at the end of each month.

Why It’s a Red Flag: Negative ending balances are a clear sign that the merchant is struggling to maintain sufficient cash flow to cover their expenses. This financial instability can jeopardize their ability to repay the advance.

3. Large Unexplained Withdrawals

What to Look For: Significant withdrawals that do not align with the merchant’s typical business operations or expenses.

Why It’s a Red Flag: Large unexplained withdrawals could indicate financial mismanagement, potential fraud, or other issues that compromise the merchant’s financial stability. It’s important to seek clarification on these transactions.

4. Inconsistent Income Patterns

What to Look For: Irregular or fluctuating deposit amounts that do not follow a predictable pattern.

Why It’s a Red Flag: Inconsistent income can make it difficult for the merchant to meet their repayment obligations, suggesting instability in their revenue streams. This is particularly concerning if the business relies on seasonal sales without a clear plan to manage off-peak periods.

5. High Number of Returned Checks or NSF Fees

What to Look For: Multiple instances of returned checks or Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) fees.

Why It’s a Red Flag: Returned checks and NSF fees indicate that the merchant frequently issues payments without sufficient funds, which can point to poor financial management and unreliable cash flow. This behavior increases the risk of default.

6. Excessive Personal Expenses

What to Look For: A high volume of personal expenses being paid from the business account.

Why It’s a Red Flag: Mixing personal and business finances can indicate a lack of financial discipline and make it difficult to accurately assess the business’s financial health. This can also suggest that the business is not generating enough revenue to support the owner’s lifestyle.

7. Declining Sales or Revenue

What to Look For: A noticeable decline in the amount or frequency of deposits over time.

Why It’s a Red Flag: Declining sales or revenue can signal that the business is struggling, which may affect their ability to repay the advance. Understanding the reasons behind the decline is crucial before proceeding.

8. High Levels of Debt Repayment

What to Look For: Large or frequent payments towards existing debt.

Why It’s a Red Flag: High levels of debt repayment can strain the merchant’s cash flow and increase the risk of defaulting on additional advances. It’s important to assess whether the business can handle more debt.

9. Unusual or Suspicious Transactions

What to Look For: Transactions that appear out of the ordinary for the business, such as large transfers to unknown accounts or frequent cash withdrawals.

Why It’s a Red Flag: Unusual transactions may indicate fraudulent activity, money laundering, or other financial irregularities that pose a risk to the lender. Further investigation is necessary to understand these transactions.

10. Low Average Daily Balance

What to Look For: A consistently low average daily balance in the account.

Why It’s a Red Flag: A low average daily balance suggests that the merchant is operating with minimal cash reserves, which can be risky in the event of unexpected expenses or revenue shortfalls. This indicates limited financial buffer to manage unforeseen challenges.


Identifying red flags during the underwriting processes is crucial for making sound funding decisions in the MCA industry. By being vigilant and thorough in your analysis, you can better assess the risk profile of potential clients and protect your business from unnecessary risks.

Understanding these red flags and incorporating them into your underwriting processes can significantly enhance your ability to make prudent lending decisions. Ready to optimize your underwriting and improve your funding decisions? Contact us today to learn more about how LendSaaS can help you achieve your business goals.

Schedule a demo to try LendSaaS today!

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