Thursday, February 19, 2009

Loan Officer thoughts

The Loan Officer, a borrowed concept from microfinance to help us keep close contact with the customer, is going to be probably the most important cog in MHFC's wheel. He or she is going to be not just the initial screening point / advisor in filling out the loan application form but also is envisaged to be the ongoing Relationship Manager for all borrowers in a development. The LO will be the face of MHFC to the client, and research has generally indicated in the case of microfinance that repayment rates are higher when the client / LO relationship is good (one of high trust). How do we know who will make a good LO is the million dollar question. But if we had to hazard a guess, he / she needs to be a certain standard in financial acumen though probably more importantly, the LO should be passionate (about the social nature of MHFC's business in terms of helping people find appropriate shelter) and compassionate (sensitive to the client's needs and helping them understand their finances).
In line with this, I just re-read the chapter on training Grameen staff in Mohammad Yunus's book "Banker to the Poor" - and thought the following passage was quite relevant and inspirational.
"Unlike any other commercial bank workers, our staff members are above all else teachers. They are teachers in the sense that they help their borrowers to unfold their full potential, to discover their strengths, to push their horizons and capabilities further than ever before. We give our staff an opportunity to use all their knowledge, imagination and experience to become true teachers. The job of manager (loan officer) is a personal adventure, the type of challenge a student has never had an opportunity to take up before."