Banker 2- Mighty LOAN FILE
Banker 2- Mighty LOAN FILE9 mins 281 9 mins 281
I chose to write about the loan file, for me, it was always a mighty weapon. It decides whether a customer should get a loan or not. I will talk about the daily ordeal which a banker goes through. Historically, Ordeal was supposed to be an “ancient test of guilt or innocence by the subjection of the accused to severe pain, the survival of which was taken as divine proof of innocence”. In banking parlance, it is to test the accused i.e. Credit Managers, Asset managers, etc. have ensured prudence while processing a loan file. These are mostly the lesser mortals. So, coming back to the loan file, it’s a weapon based on who is controlling it. Two people control this weapon the banker and the customer. I held it for the first time a decade ago. Does that make me a prodigy? Well, we will see ahead. However, I have become dexterous at handling this weapon.
There are no romanticizing Monday blues, we are the blue-eyed boys and girls. It should be interpreted here of how precarious our positions could be. Every day morning, I walk towards my work station to see a huge pile of the loan files. They are the mighty weapons sitting one above the other. They stare at me while I stare back, they cannot hear the monotone I exchange day after day. I work in a Retail Asset Centre of a Bank. The lesser mortals as I have described earlier are basically quarantined here. I am also part of this. There are other teams such as sales and operations. The mighty weapons go into the hands of all the warrior teams. There is a war on select few days of the year and on the last day of every month, it ends at 11: 45 PM. Well, the war I am referring to is working with these files. It was the first day of the month and I was pleased to see a clear desk, I fitted my Charles & Keith tote into the clumsy drawer and sat at my work station. I glanced around the office to see if enough heads were visible at their respective work stations. I heard a feeble ‘Good Morning Mam’, this was a Sales Guy. I reverted in a tone lower than him for I was trying to absorb the day after the previous half-yearly ending. I noticed a memento I received in the previous financial year. It came in sight after many days. I am not proud of it. It reminds me of the anguish of September month.
Mr. Mathur is a sales representative of the bank, he makes a fat commission on the number of loan files he sources every month. He is a dark and stout man in his mid-50s. He was haughty and ill-mannered. According to him, he was giving business to the bank. He would walk into the bank as if it were his fiefdom. Some officers addressed him as ‘sir’. I would address him as ‘Mr. Mathur’. We did not share a very good space. He brought the mighty weapon to me in the half-yearly end. He said ‘Mam, it’s a big customer’ and made a wide grin as if telling me that I better sanction the loan to the customer. I said, ‘If he is so big, he does not need a loan’. He walked away from there, but I could see his head towards the cabin. The Cabin was where the head of the Retail Asset center sat. Well, this was anticipated he did this on two other occasions. Exactly after 2 mins the phone at my desk rang. It was my boss. All I managed was ‘Ok sir, Ok Ok.’ He left the cabin and turned behind to catch a glimpse of the expression on my face. I remained as unperturbed as before. I took the loan file he had kept on my desk. It was a big file, with several documents. I glanced at the documents in the file, the borrower seemed to be heavily in debt. I extracted his credit report. His credit score was below the minimum requirement. I knew that it was too early to open a discussion with my boss. I had to do the groundwork. Mr. Mathur often brought such loan files. Our growing dependence on him gave him the opportunity to call the shots. Banks earn income by giving loans. Well ideally the more we lend the better we do. Our salaries too are dependent on the health of a bank. While I was lost in thought, my colleague asked if we could hit the cafeteria. I kept stirring my coffee. My colleague enquired if all was well with me. I told him I was fine. I enquired how much Mr. Mathur would be making per month. He was satirical, what he disclosed almost stunned me. I said, “Is there a way we can put an end to his whims and fancies”. He laughed and said, “It’s 4:00 PM now, in 2 hours we should be out of here”. I said, “How should that matter”. He said, “Don’t get into all this”. This is precisely the problem; our indifference leads to the growing menace in banks today.
During the half-yearly end I was working for late hours in the bank mostly. The file that Mr. Mathur had brought earlier in the month, stared at me. We had a certain timeline of processing every loan file. I was trying to meet the timeline for other such mighty loan files lying on my desk. Just then I heard the annoying voice from another corner. It was that of Mr. Mathur’s. He was greeting a colleague from the operations team who had returned from her maternity leave. I could see her nodding to the advice he offered her. His philanthropy towards staff was getting on to my nerves. All he cared about was his commission he made from the home loan files he sourced. While other sales representatives would bring 2 or 3 files in a month. This guy would come with half a dozen or more files. The problem was his attitude. He was not doing a favor. I wished I could say it in his face. While I heard footsteps approaching me, I continued to investigate my computer. He managed to find a chair and dragged it to sit before me. He wanted to know the progress of the file that he had given to me the previous week. I looked at him, handed over the file and said, “please leave”. He got up in a rage, tugged the mighty weapon under his arms and rushed into the cabin. The phone rang at my desk. After 3 rings I got up and walked towards the cabin which was at the end of the hall. It was a much cooler place. However, beads of sweat didn’t stop to surface on Mr. Mathur’s forehead. I could see a lot of heads rising above their work stations. Maybe they were curious to know what was happening in the cabin. As I came out of the cabin, my colleague came rushing to me. He inquired why I was inside for over 2 hours. I said “Is it? U don’t want to get into this”. He gave a confused smile and left.
I kept staring at the memento in my hands. I shoved it into the desk. As it was the first day of the month, I was scrolling my mailbox and was making a to-do list. Just then, my colleague came to me. He said, “Seriously?” I said “What”. He said, “Quick loans agency’s contract is terminated”. I said “Is it? Good!” My Colleague was a Tam-Brahma. He comes from a small village in Tamilnadu. It was his second year in Mumbai. Most sales representatives made fun of his Hindi. He was conservative and would prefer to stay out of anything he assumed involved risk-taking. He often missed his family; his desk was decorated with photos of several gods and goddesses. In the corner of his desk dangled a cute picture of a little girl. He said,” Why would you do this?”. I finished reading the last mail, I told him I did not do anything.
Quick loans agency was run by Mr. Mathur, Every month his agency would approach prospective home buyers and other customers who required any form of bank loan. He collected documents from these prospective loan customers and gave it to banks with which he held a contract. After assessing his loan file which did not fit the bank requirements, I was to reject it. However, I decided to make a telephonic conversation with the borrower. The borrower was rude in his demeanor. I wanted to conduct a preliminary discussion which was part of our loan processing. However, the borrower was not willing to talk as much. He spilled the beans by saying that he was already in talks with another bank. He did not disclose the name of the bank upon enquiring. I went through his documents closely and managed to trace the bank he was referring to, for he held a few of his family accounts there. That day, in the cabin Mr. Mathur opened the talk. He kept ranting for a while. He said firmly “If my customers don’t get the service they expect, I prefer to end my services”. After 10 minutes of his ranting, my boss enquired about the issue with his loan file.
Mr. Ranade was a small-time builder. He was a first-generation businessman. His business took off well in the initial years, however, his debt kept increasing as most of the flats remained unsold. His credit score too depleted due to his increased borrowing from several banks. He had devised a conniving plan which would be hard for banks to decipher. There was a shell company called good bricks which was floated by him early in the year. He made an agreement with good bricks which shows him as the buyer of the property. On behalf of good bricks, his nephew signed the agreement. He approached a bank for the loan. He made a parallel agreement which shows he is buying property from his nephew as the seller. He brought the same to our bank. He was trying to take a loan from both the banks by committing fraud. In both banks, he approached for Rs 5 Cr loan each. Mr. Mathur was uneasy upon hearing what was being said. Initially, he brushed it aside saying it was not true, however, the proof of documents shown to him almost took him aback. The thing that made him jump off his chair was his agency’s contract agreement with good bricks to provide consultancy services for prospective home buyers. He could not believe that anyone would unearth as many details.
I did not discuss any further on the loan file. I just walked out of the cabin with a sigh of relief. The file is mighty, but bankers are mightier.