Technology is combining with other forces to split lenders into two camps: those that sell relationships and those that sell transactions.

The big difference between the two, according to one observer who addressed a recent industry conference, is that the transaction lender is large enough and automated enough to make a profit on standard loans while charging the lowest rates. All others, he says, will necessarily have to become relationship lenders, offering innovative and specialized products to established customers, a situation in which price is not crucial.

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