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Dedicated to Your Satisfaction.

A. B. Nicholas began as a company delivering custom financing to franchisees and commercial real estate developers. In 2009, our lending programs, even for those with excellent credit, became much more difficult. We knew we needed to find another option; and from this our company became the premier provider of boutique securities based lines of credit via licensed FINRA-member U. S. institutions, each of which has agreed to offer exceptionally competitive rates and terms to our clients. We have upheld and improved that tradition for 12 years and are proud of our record, our core team, and our many agents around the country who have benefited from our unique “let the brokers compete” lending model. 

Call: 202-379-4744

We're Growing: Here's How

 After many years of working for the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration in Washington D. C., ABN founder Dan Stafford left his federal government position in 2001 to assemble a “can do” team of professionals who could find a way to offer alternative credit lines using client stock portfolios that would be aimed at the franchise and business buyer markets. After months of trial and error efforts and much skepticism from lenders, our hard work paid off and our first new financial tool, LeverageLine, was born when we teamed up with a senior licensed advisor at Merrill Lynch at the time. Soon, we were ready to open our doors to the public with our LeverageLine program. 

Securities (Stock Portfolios) as Collateral

Trained at the University of Chicago, Stafford had seen the difficulty that American exporters were experiencing in marketing their goods and services overseas during his work with the International Trade Administration. Despite many existing federal programs to support U. S. businesses, many still had funding gaps that ended up with the companies abandoning the export markets altogether.  Few considered their stock portfolios as a source of capital other than to sell (and often to take huge capital gains tax hits), so after establishing the original LeverageLine program, Stafford joined with SBA and Franchise funding expert G. Donald Johnson to build the framework for the current A. B. Nicholas company.

Our idea was a securities-based stock loan/credit line where the lenders compete with one another “Lending Tree style” to get our clients the best rates, terms and other premium features possible. We insisted that any lender hoping to land our clients’ business must come with zero mandatory lender side fees other than interest on what the client chose to draw from their line. If they wanted other services, fine; but the lending brokerages would agree never to “hard sell” or pressure any of our clients. This was  must; our clients came for a loan primarily. They could not and should not be forced to take on ancillary services they do not want. Should they want such services — such as professional account management — that was their choice, but even then they should get those services at a discount wherever possible. All of our lenders — and today we have five – agreed to his proposal. 

To make it unique in the market, we knew we needed a custom line of credit without the typical frills, service add-ons, or lender-side nick-and-dime costs that always add up over a year. We insisted that the standard mandatory brokerage management fees charged to clients be waived in full, because our clients were coming first and foremost for a loan, not for investment advice.  If they choose additional management or other services, as noted, that is fine; but such additional services beyond the loan could not be required as a condition for the financing. On this we have been very strict. 

So “Just financing” were our bywords, but would any brokerage or bank be willing to forego all those lucrative fees? From the start we saw how hard that could be. Every excuse was given. We tried institution after institution until we found one advisor willing to agree to our conditions. 

It took over a year to prove the model, but in the end we showed it could be done, that on average our process could bring in new additional business to the brokerages naturally and would therefore be profitable to them as well. Many of the advisors we work with also get bonuses for brining new clients into their organization. From our perspective here at ABN our persistence was paying off.

Why such trouble to get brokerages to agree to a no-mandatory-lender-fee system? Most of our A. B. Nicholas clients wanted financing-only, not expert investment advice as noted. But seemingly every brokerage and bank in the country was pressuring its agents at the time (note the famous Wells Fargo scandals that resulted from such pressure!) to bring in cash via add-on services, accounts and fees. 

In time Dan and Don added operations wiz Marie Wood, an expert in office and data management, to handle our paperwork, processing and accounting for both clients and agents. We then recruited hundreds of top-notch referral agents from some of the the biggest franchise and commercial business real estate brokerages in the country. We then established a training and legal compliance program in a new certification process for all Agents. 

Today our staff and agents can be found in every state of the union, and we have processed many millions of dollars worth of client stock portfolio loans while maintaining an outstanding Better Business Bureau rating (“A+” over more than a decade). Yes, we are a boutique firm and ours is a niche financial market — but it is a niche we understand very well.

“If a better stock loan is invented, A. B. Nicholas will be providing it” is our motto. Let us show you today!  (Contact Us!)

In time Dan and Don added operations wiz Marie Wood, an expert in office and data management, to handle our paperwork, processing and accounting for both clients and agents. We then recruited hundreds of top-notch referral agents from some of the the biggest franchise and commercial business real estate brokerages in the country. We then established a training and legal compliance program in a new certification process for all Agents. 

Today our staff and agents can be found in every state of the union, and we have processed many millions of dollars worth of client stock portfolio loans while maintaining an outstanding Better Business Bureau rating (“A+” over more than a decade). Yes, we are a boutique firm and ours is a niche financial market — but it is a niche we understand very well.

“If a better stock loan is invented, A. B. Nicholas will be providing it” is our motto. Let us prove it to you today!  (Contact Us!)

Examine stock portfolio interest rates for the LeverageLine credit line program.

What’s in it for our licensed lending institutional partners if there are no mandatory lender-side fees? Simple. Any new accounts that come in, even if not managed, is calculated and credited to that Agent for purposes of bonuses. The more new LeverageLine portfolios he/she brings in, the higher that Agent’s bonus is going to be each quarter.

No company overview would be complete without discussing our clients, too, who helped define LeverageLine product from the start.

The type of clients we serve demanded no mandatory lender-side fees, very competitive interest rates, high loan-to-value, interest-only repayment, and speedy turnaround with a solid path to conventional financing later on. From our first major licensed lender-partner to our current three major providers and FINRA-member advisors with stellar backgrounds, the LeverageLine stock loan program was gradually able to achieve a wholesale-rate stock-secured-loan with an eye on the future.

Our staff at A. B. Nicholas is tasked, by agreement with our lending partners, with ensuring portfolio eligibility. For eligible portfolios (see requirements) we help prospective clients understand how the LeverageLine process works and answer any questions about their collateral stocks.  We issue our term sheets with figures and approval from our licensed lending partners, and deliver the offer securely to the client.  In this way, our term sheets are pre-approved financing quotes usually delivered within hours of application.

Our duties are simple: we confirm eligibility, answer questions, and move the application to the lending institution securely. We then build the lenders’ terms into a clear term sheet and deliver for signing via a secure, encrypted digital system.  Once signed, we set up an introduction to their partner within the institution, the lender advisor — an experienced, licensed FINRA-member professional and an expert carefully selected for knowledge of securities-based lending services, franchise financing, and commercial real estate financing, with an impeccable record and multiple licenses.

A. B. Nicholas is, however,  compensated a percentage of the maximum credit line, a one time charge similar to points on a mortgage, payable after we’ve delivered as promised from the credit line 03desired or by credit card. We carry out this work as a business enterprise service for our clients (not the lending institution) and receive no compensation or incentives of any kind from our licensed lending partners. Our duty is to provide the best securities finance we can, and nothing less.)

A. B. Nicholas serves many of the big franchise and business brokering firms, should they need a securities finance component for their clients.  These firms  trust A. B. Nicholas to deliver, and we are proud to say we do — every time.

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Call us:  202-379-4744

Institutional Advisor Team

Licensed Lender Advisors

Carefully selected veteran, multi-licensed, expert FINRA-member lender advisors responsible for handling all ABN client finance.
Registered Agent Team

Registered ABN Agents

Our Registered Agents include over 2,000 licensed financial advisors, business brokers, commercial real estate representatives and financial planners join A. B. Nicholas as referral partners for our lending programs.
Organization Firm Team

Organization Partners

Over 30+ major franchise, business brokering, and commercial real estate firms
G. Donald Johnson

President, A. B. Nicholas

Principal, Diamond Financial Services (NJ), 25+ years experience and business ownership in Business Finance & franchise lending, B.S. Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Dan Stafford

Founding Partner

16+ years in securities finance. Prior: U. S. Dept. of Commerce, International Trade Administration. 
M. A., University of Chicago

Marie Wood

Operating Director

20+ years in business administration and accounting for financial firms. Director of Affiliate operations, applications, and services.