We all hope to wake up every day with a sense of purpose, don’t we?
For a lot of people out there, this seems to be an eternal quest but not for Hemant Kumar.
As a Branch Credit Officer for Aye Finance in Bareilly branch, Hemant, seems to have it all figured out. His daily life involves decisions that can make a significant impact in other people’s lives and this is an aspect of his work that Hemant takes very seriously.
Let’s pause for a moment here and just outline what being a Branch Credit Officers entails. BCOs as they are popularly known are individuals who are the first touchpoint for a financial institution’s credit appraisal process. Their role involves analysing borrowers’ credit history, ability/willingness to pay on time and to help them find a loan product that’s the right fit for them.
Trusting Your Gut – A Thing of Importance for a BCO
Coming back to Hemant, who shares with us an experience he terms as his ‘favourite achievement’.
As a BCO, while it is sometimes difficult to evaluate a loan applicant’s business and assess the business income in order to appraise the loan, it’s even more of a challenge to assess the credibility of the applicants themselves.
A few years ago, while Hemant was posted in Aligarh, he came across an application from a young 24-year-old entrepreneur.
Upon initial verification process, it was uncovered that the applicant was a former 16-year-old daily wage earner and now a college graduate entrepreneur who was struggling to find funds to buy more machinery to manufacture rubber products for door stoppers.
While several signs might have pointed to not authorising the loan, Hemant listened to his intuition because of the great potential he saw in the applicant. As soon as the verification process cleared, the applicant was given a loan of INR 3 Lakhs. While other customers take years to repay such an amount, this customer repaid the entire loan within 18 months. Not only was this extremely rare and unheard of in those days but the branch then ended up repeating the loan and the customer managed timely repayments yet again.
And just like that, while in the middle of his day to day work life, Hemant Kumar played a crucial role in changing the life of a young and talented entrepreneur. This young man today continues to contribute further to society by hiring his own workforce.
While the success of this business made a small impact on our economy, it has made a considerable impact on Hemant’s perspective towards the significance of his work.
What’s a Usual Workday Like?
While this was just one example, Hemant evaluates around 50-80 potential businesses every month that can be broken down into a simple albeit long and sometimes even tedious task list.
Hemant’s day begins with meticulously processing several loan documents. After the initial paperwork, he gears up and sets course towards the site of the business that needs a loan. Sometimes these businesses are in the outskirts of city limits where several formal lending institutions won’t even venture out to. However, with a song in his heart and a sip of tea on his way, Hemant charges up his #AyeCan spirit and rides through long harsh commutes to reach the business site.
According to Hemant, “…the notion of being under debt is sometimes uncomfortable for micro-entrepreneurs, this is a hurdle all BCOs need to overcome…”. Hence he ensures that he is friendly enough so that the customer feel at ease and consequently, respond better.
This not only helps Hemant get the necessary information easily but also provides a positive customer experience.
Meet Sherlock Loans – The Financial Detective
Now, Branch Credit Officers at Aye are nothing shy of being Sherlock. Once the interview and business assessment are done BCOs like Hemant switch to “detective mode”.
This often involves talking to nearby business and people connected to the potential borrower. Picking up information regarding the customer is often a crucial part of sanctioning the loan.
For Hemant, trusting his intuition combined with good ol’ detective work is an ideal combination.
Favourite Part of the Day
Once Hemant is done with the site visits of the day, he moves to his favourite part of the job – “crunching numbers”. He studies the business model, calculates the possible cash flow and revenue estimation from the collected data and cross-references it with the credit score of the customer. This is then forwarded to the “Loan Origination System” where the central credit team takes things forward.
Home Sweet Home
After a long hard day of commute and evaluating multiple businesses, Hemant then heads back home to his wife and his 1.5-year-old daughter. The moment he reaches home and sweeps his daughter up in his arms, her smile shatters all the strain of the entire day, he says.
While they do complain that “tum time se ghar nahi aate” (you’re never home on time), Hemant makes it up by taking them on vacations and ensuring he maintains a healthy work-life balance. Not only does his family treasure every moment he spends with them, they are also proud of the work that he does.
Hemant Kumar, for one, is not just stacking up his days, he is making the most of each day by spending time with his family and following a career trajectory he loves. A career where he not only gets to change lives but where he also finds inspiration daily via the countless entrepreneurs he meets.
As the cliche goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”, Branch Credit Officers like Hemant, are the ones who are part of the initial steps we take in the eventual financial inclusion of micro-enterprises in the mainstream economy.