There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on our local economy, and economies around the world. Here in Alberta, a significant dip in oil prices and the mandated closure of non-essential services has had repercussions on businesses big and small. As a result, many business owners are seeking financial relief from the government and their financial institutions.

As one measure of financial relief, many financial institutions including Servus, are offering deferrals for business loans. If your business is experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, you’re likely considering relief options such as this (if you haven’t taken them already). But is deferring your loan the right move for your business?

Every business has a different situation - we're here to help you weigh the decision to defer your business loan or not.

Business illustration check list, calculator

What’s been the impact on your revenue?

Have you been able to continue operating with the imposed health and safety measures or has your business had to completely shut down? Evaluate how stable your business is under these new conditions and look at your cash flow. Has it been severely impacted?

Also, how have your fixed expenses changed? Are you paying the same overhead costs as before (is there an opportunity to decrease these?) and how does that factor in with your current revenues? A deferral may help to close this gap and allow you to stay in business longer.

Consider the business model and size of your organization

If you’ve been able to shift your business model or change the way you deliver products or services – great! Finding creative ways to continue generating revenue adds to the stability of your business.

Maybe you’ve considered downsizing your organization and leveraging federal programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to support your employees? This can help significantly if labour is a large fixed expense for you.

If not to support your payroll costs specifically, are there other ways to shift your organization to fit within the definition of federally funded industries? This can alleviate stress on your cash flow and might allow for enough funds to make your regularly scheduled loan payments.

What does a deferral mean for your payments now and in the future?

Deferrals can have varying terms depending on the financial institution that your loan is through. With Servus, you can defer both the principal and interest portion of your payment, or just the principal alone.

Choosing to defer your entire loan payment (principal + interest) means that interest will still accrue during the deferral period, but Servus doesn’t capitalize interest (we don’t charge interest on interest). You’ll still pay interest eventually, just not any extra because you deferred.

If you’re able to continue paying the interest portion of your loan payment – do it! It’ll make it easier to catch up on your payments later.

How will this affect your fixed expenditure long-term?

A business loan deferral is not "loan forgiveness". You’ll still have to repay the debt at some point. What will this mean for your business in the long run? How will “catching up” on your loan repayment affect things such as future expansion plans, business development initiatives, investments in infrastructure or technology upgrades, etc.?

Consider what changes may come as Alberta, and the world, moves forward in recovery. This won’t last forever, and your business's response can help its recovery and determine what the future will look like.

Overall, if deferring your loan lets you sustainably pay your staff, create product, or continue your services, then it likely makes sense. Talk to your relationship manager about your business’s unique situation. We’re here to provide expert advice to help you through these tough times.