“Most Canadian lending institutions require small business owners to put up a 100-per-cent guarantee of the outstanding balance of their loans, often in the form of promissory notes, but also involving personal residences and assets. The guarantees allow the lender to claim those personal assets if a customer is unable to repay the loan. ATB Financial is about to shake up that fusty old idea.

“I can’t guarantee it, but I’ve been in the banking industry for 20 years and I have never seen another institution do this,” said Wellington Holbrook, ATB Financial’s vice-president of business and agriculture. “Over the course of the next few months we’re going to give back literally thousands of guarantees. If it started a trend, I’d be ecstatic.”

ATB said it will review the portfolios of customers with loans over $250,000 and either return or reduce their guarantees. ATB also said that most new business clients won’t be asked to provide a 100-per-cent guarantee.”

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