This morning as I was about to start my day at the office, I got a call from a good friend of mine. I know him for almost 10 years and his reputation for me is; kind, professional and he has maintained a high level of integrity at all times according to my experience. His voice was trembling & feeble as he was trying to utter his words. He started with how tough his life has been since he availed a good credit line for his business from XYG Financial Institution (FI). He further explained about his good days before Covid and how things started to change after Covid and now he has landed in a situation where his property has been put in an auction by the bank. If I were a banker, probably I would have done the same. Yes, when you take a loan, you have to pay it back and there cannot be any discussion around this topic.
But as he kept on explaining, I started to find little bad as the said Lender never tried to give him alternatives, never tried to find a solution. Never sat at a table with him to find a solution.
I firmly believe that there are and there should be alternatives and this can only happen through quality conversation and dialogue with the objective to find a better solution.
And the irony is, very few people who are at the helm are taking it up in a constructive way. I am not at all in favor of the recent erratic movement where so-called activists are trying to cripple the system and take advantage of ongoing movements. I myself have been a banker for about 12 years and I might as well land in banking in the future, I have taken this into consideration very well before speaking out. But I go by the statement made by Jenifer Lawrence in her powerful speech, “It’s not easy to speak out. It’s not easy to face criticism. But the fact is I have been given a platform, and if I don’t use it, then I don’t deserve it.” I know fellas, I do not have such a platform to deliver a speech as she got but I have a platform to speak out and I think as a responsible corporate citizen, I should speak out, I firmly believe that we should be outspoken and resilient.
Many leaders speak when they are not at the helm. I think we should speak out even when we are directly part of the system in a constructive way so that it benefits both customers and the industry.
This is not at all an intention to make any kind of judgement but I think we are very critical people as we are in the financial services industry. Let’s understand our all actions or even inactions will have positive or damaging consequences for society and people. If we go rogue, the system may collapse. So, let’s think before taking any action or choosing silence over speaking out. In my opinion, I think we should do the following before directly putting anyone’s property in an auction:
1. Let’s understand that we are not only the Collector but the steward of the ship. Let’s remember when there is turmoil, everyone is at risk not only passengers. To cut it short, Let’s be their advisor, a friend. Let’s set up an Advisory unit. I agree, we have to go for auction as last resort but let’s route it through an Advisory team. Trust me, you will start to find solutions you never thought of. As Michael Beirut said, “The problem contains the solution” and this is so true.
2. Every bank can think of having a Counseling unit for borrowers who are in trouble. Eventually, whatever measures we need to take to recover the loan, we have to. But this might be the need of the hour. This is an opportunity as well to differentiate and communicate to people that financial institutions can go out of the box for YOU, for our CLIENT, and for all of us.
2. I think, we must find ways to reduce interest rates to make the future less damaging, and if we can let’s sustain with a nominal premium on the base rate. Many a time, surviving is more important. We are all in the same boat and we should not forget this.
Hopefully, in the future, my friend who was trembling while sharing his pain will get his confidence back and we all can find a ray of hope and can see our future in Nepal. Let’s walk the talk. Let’s be friends, true friends not just double hatting in brand promise but in practice as well and I know we can do it.
Disclaimer: The writer is Nirajan Kandel and he has been in the financial services industry for 16 years plus. The views expressed are entirely personal.