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Survey Highlights Banking Needs for Cannabis Operators in an Evolving Market

Access to credit financing and lending are top priorities for licensed operators, according to a new study from Shield Compliance.

Seattle, WA – November 6, 2023 – Today, Shield Compliance (, a leading compliance management platform for cannabis banking, released the findings of a survey of licensed cannabis operators regarding their satisfaction with the banking partners, products, and services available to them. While most operators are optimistic about access to financial services in the years ahead, many expressed the need for additional financing options to support their businesses amid changing market conditions.


“With more banks and credit unions entering this line of business as state and federal policies change, the best defense for bankers serving the industry today is to understand what customers are looking for and to offer these products and services so they don't lose the relationships they've earned,” said Tony Repanich, President and CEO of Shield Compliance. “This survey signals loud and clear that financial institutions cannot be complacent. They must continue to innovate to meet the changing needs of their customers and the industry.”

Key Findings

Despite concerns about profitability and compressed margins, nearly 70% of respondents expressed optimism about their business outlook for the year ahead.

Cash flow is a top concern for 77% of respondents, emphasizing the need for financial institutions to offer solutions addressing the unique cash management challenges faced by cannabis businesses. Profitability and access to credit rounded out their chief concerns.

Access to lending is in high demand. Fewer than 5% said they could get loans from their financial institution.

  • 77% are somewhat or very interested in operating lines of credit, with 6% currently using this product.

  • 71% expressed interest in equipment financing, with less than 3% currently using this financing.

  • 67% expressed interest in real estate financing.

Nearly 90% of operators were satisfied with the customer service provided by their financial institution but sought improvement in their bankers’ knowledge of the industry and more reasonable and predictable compliance requirements. Nearly 40% were dissatisfied with fees and service charges, and 42% said they would consider changing their financial institution in the next 12 months.

Financial Institutions Must Adapt to an Evolving Industry

With eventual changes to 280E taxation and federal cannabis policies, banks and credit unions must future-proof their businesses. As operators’ cash flow burdens ease and they become more credit-worthy, financial institutions must be prepared to offer additional products and services, more strategic pricing mechanisms, and lending to qualified borrowers to retain their deposit accounts and the fee income associated with them.

“Financial institutions that can respond quickly to changing market conditions will be best positioned for success in the years ahead," said Repanich. “Using compliance tools to streamline customer compliance requirements while leveraging valuable BSA/AML data will help financial institutions reduce risk and gain a critical advantage when the market becomes more competitive and operators have more choice when selecting a financial services partner.”

Quantitative survey data was derived from financial decision-makers at 100 verified licensed operators in the U.S. in August/September 2023. In-depth interviews were also conducted with 15 individual owners or managers of cannabis operations, including cultivators and retailers, to validate the data and gain additional insights.

About Shield Compliance

Shield Compliance transforms how financial institutions serve the legal cannabis market. Its purpose-built BSA/AML compliance management software solution sits behind the financial institution to simplify compliance, automate processes across multiple data sources, create efficiencies, unlock new revenue, and scale operations. With real-time monitoring and comprehensive reporting capabilities, Shield Compliance sets the standard for compliance excellence in cannabis banking. For more information, visit or contact

Media Contact

Samara Villasenor


Shield's purpose built compliance platform manages the risk, compliance and operational demands associated with banking in the legalized cannabis industry.

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