Borrower selection in Credit Operations It is of utmost importance that the banker assesses his borrower well. The borrower should not only have the capacity to repay as per bank’s requirements but should also have the willingness to repay. There are certain important checkpoints that the banker has to go through to ensure this.
Borrower selection in Credit Operations may be referred to as the 6 Cs and they are as follows:
The banker has to ensure that the person is of integrity. He should assess the personal characteristics which include honesty, attitude, willingness and commitment to repay debts. There is however no set guidelines to carry out such an assessment. The characteristics are very personal in nature and in fact it may not be possible to carry out a fool-proof analysis. The banker should nevertheless carry out this assessment with sincerity.
This includes the evaluation whether the borrower has the potential to repay the debts from his own sources. It includes the borrower’s success in running in business or managing his cash flows. Capacity of physical assets, plants and equipment, cash flows etc are usually taken into account in this regard. Banks normally insist upon their prospective borrowers to submit their financial statements in order to determine their creditworthiness.
The financial strength of the borrower or his net worth is carefully studied by the banker. It represents the amount of equity capital that a firm can liquidate for payment of debt and the eventuality of call other means failing. The amount of the borrower’s capital in relation to debt is relatively easy to compute. However, the valuation of underlying assets in which capital is invested is a complex but vital exercise and has to be carried out.
The banker has to assess the conditions in which the borrower is operating his business. A STEP analysis may come in handy in this regard. STEP stands for Social, Technological, Economic and Political conditions. The market potential of the product, the competitiveness of the firm in the market, the growth prospects and other such factors influence the borrower’s ability to repay the debt. The banker must also consider external factors that maybe beyond the control of the firm but may nevertheless affect the business.
Banker has to ensure safety of funds lent as seen in the portion on principles of lending. One of the ways that the banker ensures this is by retaining collateral other than the primary security. The possibility that the borrower may lose the collateral may in fact act as an incentive for him to repay his debt.
Diversification of borrowers
- A prudent banker always tries to select the borrower very carefully and takes tangible assets as security to safeguard his interests. While this is no doubt an adequate measure, there are other unforeseen contingencies against which the banker has to guard himself. Further if the bank lends large amounts to a single industry or borrower, then the default by that customer can affect the banking industry as a whole and will affect the basic survival of the industry.
- To safeguard bankers’ interest against all such risks, the banker follows the principle of diversification of risks based on the famous maxim ‘never keep all the eggs in one basket’. By lending funds to different sectors, a bank can save itself from the slump in some sectors by way of prosperity in the others. Banks have to lend to a large number of industries and borrowers so that the risk gets diversified.
Credit Ratings of the Borrower
- The need to rate the borrower is basically a pre-sanction process to enable the banker to take decision whether to grant investment facility to the borrower and if yes, what should the price be. Financial parameters such as measurement through ratios and compliance parameters that take into consideration general information regarding the enterprise such as stock statements being submitted on time, and submission of periodical reports, are analyzed.
- Investment proposals also pass through the credit/investment risk assessment process and then the computation of risk gradation is done. After determining the risks involved in a credit/investment proposal a decision with regard to the price to be charged can be taken. All kinds of risks such as management risks, business risks, financial risks and project risks are taken into view.
- While financial risks are easily quantified, the quantification of non-financial risks is quite subjective, to avoid much scope for subjectivity during credit analysis, the parameters are broken down to their minute details.
- Final grading is done after the individual sub parameters under the different types of risks have been scored. The final score is then compared to the bench mark score and the bank then decides about the spread to be maintained on this basis.
Principles of sound lending
- The lending activity of the bank is subject to certain sound principles.
• Because the business of lending is subject to inherent risks especially when the lending banks depend largely on the borrowed funds. As such credit/investment management is based on principles of sound lending.
- Investment lending is the key contributor to a bank’s profitability.
- The major portion of the bank’s funds is employed by way of lending, which is the most profitable employment of its funds.
- Lending is a crucial activity for a bank enabling it to generate income.
- The business of lending is subject to certain inherent risks.
- To sustain income generation while mitigating such risks, prudent decisions need to be taken prior to and after sanctioning the investment lending.
- Decisions generally relate to the size, security and repayment of investment to be extended during a financial year, the industries to focus on, the geographical spread, type of lending to offer, type of proposals to finance, disbursal mechanism, collateral value, pricing method, repayment schedule, monitoring process etc.
- The macro and micro level policies of the lending activity contribute to the achievement of the bank’s financial objectives.
- The bank’s management ensures that the lending decisions are within bank’s overall objectives of growth and stability.
- The bank’s lending Policy is guided by the Central Bank’s/Govt. policies, which seeks to integrate the credit policy of the banking system as a whole within its framework of growth with stability.
- While formulating the lending policy is a crucial step, delivering the investment to the needy can be effected only through a proper mechanism.
- The role of field functionaries is very important as a proper delivery channel.
- At the macro level, the credit operations of the banks lead to a surplus position or as shortfall in the same.
- While the surplus position may lead to a decline on the rate of returns, a tight money position will result in a rising interest rate scenario thereby affecting the cost of investment and the overall performance of various industries.
- At the micro level, the bank’s operations should also ensure profitability and adequate liquidity.
- The operations of the bank should set a trade-off between the profitability and liquidity.
- Excess profitability at the cost of liquidity will lead to an enhanced level of liquidity risk, which may be detrimental for the long term viability of the bank.
- Similarly, excess liquidity may affect the profitability of the bank since the cost of idle funds may eat into the profits.
- While lending, the bank should essentially try to balance its spreads, liquidity and risk levels.
- The bank will have to take calculated risks and arrive at an ideal credit portfolio.
- While lending the funds, the banker enquires from the borrower the purpose for which he seeks the investment.
- Banks do not grant any lending/investment for each and every purpose.
- Banks’ should ensure the safety and liquidity of their funds by granting investments only for productive purposes.
- The funds lent should be put to optimum use.
- Investments are not to be granted for speculative and unproductive purposes like hoarding stock or for anti-social activities, since apart from the morality of such activities, there are also inherent risks involved with regard to the repayment of such investment.
- Investments that are meant for personal expenditure like marriage can be refused.
- In some cases, the banks grant investment for personal expenditure and for short/medium term like education etc.
- It is however the duty of the bank to keep in mind that the other principles of lending are adhered to, which in turn will automatically ensure that this principle is taken care of as well.
Borrower selection in Credit Operations: Sound Lending prefers-Safety, Liquidity, Security and Profitability
- Banks are trustee of public money. Bank’s deposits are always payable on demand. Bank has to maintain trust of depositors forever. As such the first and foremost principle of lending is to ensure safety of funds lent.
- By safety means that the borrower is in a position to repay the investment, along with profit.
- Further, it is just not the capacity of the borrower to repay but also his willingness to repay.
- The former depends on his tangible assets and the success of his business.
- The latter depends on the borrower’s character.
- The banker should lend to a reliable customer who can and will repay the investment within the prescribed period of time after generating surplus from business such that doubtful debts are avoided.
- In practice, banks ensure that they adhere to this principle by taking collateral security that is marketable, apart from primary security, which the bank can dispose of in the event of default.
- In more recent times, bankers have begun to concentrate more on the business aspect of the borrower, i.e., the purpose and viability of the business rather than on the collaterals.
- Thus, bankers have begun to treat the entire business as security and in this manner moved away from the traditional concept of collaterals.
- Bankers must take utmost care in ensuring that the business for which an investment is sought is a sound one, and that the borrower is a person of integrity who is capable of carrying out his business successfully.
- The term liquidity refers to the extent of availability of funds with the banker for providing credit to borrowers.
- It is to be seen that money lent is not going to be locked up for a long time.
- The money should return to the bank as per the repayment schedule.
- Repayment schedule that is drawn up by the banker has to adhere to the requirement that at any point of time the banker should possess liquidity to meet the withdrawals of the depositors.
- It is to be kept in mind that various deposits have various maturities and some of it would also be payable on demand.
- A bank’s inability to meet the demand of its depositors can lead to a run on the bank, which is a threat to its basic survival.
- Hence the banker has to always monitor the cash flows and carry out the exercise of ensuring liquidity with the borrower as this in turn means liquidity with the banker.
- Liquidity would also refer to the quality of assets, which should be easily convertible into cash without any loss of value.
- The concept of liquidity entails the banker to look for easy sale ability and absence of risk of loss on sale of asset, which has been taken as collateral.
- The security offered against the investments may consist of a large variety of items.
- It may be a plot of land, building, flat, gold ornaments, insurance policies, term deposits etc.
- There may even be cases where there is no security at all.
- The banker must realize that it is only a cushion to fall back upon in case of need.
- The security and its adequacy alone should not form the sole consideration for judging the viability of an investment proposal.
- Nevertheless, the security if accepted must be adequate and readily marketable, easy to handle and free from encumbrances.
- It is the duty of the banker to check the nature of the security and assess whether it is adequate for the investment granted.
- Apart from the collateral, the banker has also to consider other factors such as capital of the borrower, his character and capacity.
Credit Operations Types of Securities
- Banks are financial intermediaries whose resources are mobilized from public and lent to various sectors of the economy. The money mobilized from the public by way of deposits is repayable on demand. Hence, bankers have to take utmost care to ensure that they are in a position to meet such demand at any given point of time. For this, banks secure their advances with appropriate securities.
- By practice, the securities offered by the borrowers are of different types. They may be immovable or movable security, debts etc. The land and buildings, machineries embedded to earth etc. come under the category of immovable, whereas goods, vehicles, furniture, machineries, gold ornaments etc. come under the category of movable security. Accounts receivables also known as book debts are classified as intangible security.
- Classification of security may also be as personal and tangible as well as primary collateral. Personal security refers to personal liability. The bank has a right of action against the borrower, e.g. guarantee. Tangible security is something that can be realized by a sale or transfer, e.g. land, goods, stock etc.
- Primary security is one that is registered as the main cover for an investment; generally, assets against which investment is made. For example, stock for cash credit, machinery for term investment. Collateral security is security other than the primary security lodged by the borrower or by a third party.
- While granting investments on the basis of any type of security as above, a banker should observe the following basic principles:
a) Adequacy of margin: In banking terminology, ‘margin’ refers to the difference between the market value of the security and the amount of investment granted against it. Banker needs to keep adequate margin because of the following reasons:
i) The market value of the securities is liable to fluctuations in the future with the result that the banker’s secured investment lending may turn into partly secured ones.
ii) The liability of the borrower towards the banker increases gradually as profit accrues and other charges become payable by him.
b) Marketability of security: If the borrower defaults in making payment, the banker has to liquidate the security to make good his funds. For this, the security has to be marketable.
c) Documentation: Documents that are prepared and signed by the borrower at the time of securing the investment is of much significance as these documents contain all the terms and conditions on which an investment is sanctioned by the banker. Hence, any misunderstanding or dispute later on may easily be avoided or resolved.
- Banks are not charitable institutions. All banks are profit-earning institutions.
- The ultimate objective of lending is to earn profits.
- Banks receive profit on investments and advances lent, and they pay profit to their depositors.
- This difference between the receipts and payments will be the bank’s gross profit.
- Banks further incur various expenses as any organization does.
- After accounting for all such expenses and provisions, banks have to earn a reasonable amount as net profit (NIM) so that dividends can be paid to its shareholders.
- The trust and confidence level of the customer and investor will be high with a bank that has a good track record of profits and dividend rates.
- Hence it is important that whatever the business the bank engages itself with, the business be profitable enough not just to cover its costs but to ensure generation of surplus funds or margin.
- It is prudent for the banker to consider overall profitability of the entire business that is undertaken rather than the profitability against each component of business or service offered.
- It is also a recent practice to analyze the profitability of operations vis-à-vis particular customers.
- This approach, known as the Customer Profitability Analysis (CPA), enables the banker to decide the extent to which he can compromise on the profitability aspect so that a competitive rate can be offered to customer.
- This analysis is done when more than one service is offered by the bank and to attract more customers.
- In the current context of the availability of freedom to a banker in the matter of pricing credit and services, a very conscious and careful exercise is called for on his part in order to strike a proper balance between the twin aims of making a desirable level of profit and at the same time offering a competitive price for the product/service.
- This is the kind of approach that is required of a banker in order to entice new customers to his fold while retaining the existing customers. There is a direct relationship between profit and pricing of service offered by the banker.
- Banks perform the basic functions of a financial intermediary by accepting deposits and allowing investments. Considering that the maturity periods of deposits and advances/investments vary, successful credit management depends on the level of credit discipline that a bank imposes. Strict discipline is not only required to overcome mismatches in maturity between deposits and advances but also other factors such as specific types of investments or advances (as in takeover of advances) and specific types of borrowers (as in case of companies).
- The maturities of different components of a bank’s investment portfolio are determined based in the composition of its resource pool. The asset portfolio is concentrated around working capital financing which is essentially a type of revolving credit. The actual amount of credit to the customer is determined by the asset base of the borrower, which includes current assets. Any additional requirements or downward revisions in sanctioned limits are considered at the time of annual renewal of the investment. Any excess liquidity during the short-term is generally deployed in investments maturing within a short period like bridge investments, bills financing etc.
- Investment Pricing: This can be divided into profit pricing and non-profit pricing. In cases of investment regulations will be complied with and tenor linked is announced from time to time. In cases of discounting of bills, lending to intermediary agencies etc, profit rates that are to be determined by the authority.
- Banks also charge profit rates in respect of certain investment in the personal segment. In the case of commercial investment also fix profit rates are extended, selectively.
- Renewal of investment: Generally, working capital facilities are sanctioned by the bank for a period of 1 year and thereafter the limits are required to be renewed every year, i.e. fresh sanction is accorded each year for the existing limits. Where, however, renewal is not done for some reasons, sanction for the continuance of the existing limits is obtained in each case by reviewing the facilities.
- As regards term investment, these are required to be reviewed once in a year. For the purpose of this review, respective banks have devised a separate authority structure.
- Takeover of investment: Banks are required to aggressively market for good quality investments today. One such strategy for improving the quality of assets in a bank’s investment portfolio is to takeover investment outstanding in other banks/FIs. Investments to be taken over should be rated ‘good’ or above and the asset should have remained a standard asset in the books for at least preceding 3 months. Any term investment which is to be taken over should not have been rephrased earlier. In case of all takeover proposals, generally banks insist for prior approval from the appropriate authority, which may be the Managing Director/Board of Directors.
- Generally, this strategy is not encouraged, except under exceptional circumstances in consideration of larger business interest and valuable connections.
- Regulators have also advised banks that any fresh limit/renewal/enhancement in the case of willful defaulters may be considered which however shall depend solely on the merits of each case and to be decided only by the Board of Directors.
Borrower selection in Credit Operations Monitoring
- There are three types of follow-up that constitute investment Monitoring: Financial follow-up, Physical follow-up and Legal follow-up. Following are the basic elements:
- To ensure that the post sanction review of the investment shall indicate the financial health code of the bank as good by virtue of the assets , which are kept as the securities, remaining good and not depreciating excessively.
- To ensure proper documentation is maintained such that the securities are safe and protected especially in times of recovery.
- To verify whether all the terms and conditions of sanction are met with and in case of deviation report to the sanctioning authority, so that needful steps can be taken by them. Thus, there will be no communication gap between the sanctioning authorities and the branches.
- To undertake periodic review of control returns such as stock statements, financial statements and any caution signals that are emanated to be analyzed in the early stages so that the health of the investment remains good.
- To undertake a constant review of the financial statements in order to ensure that the funds are utilized properly and there is no diversion of funds.
- To undertake periodical mid-term reviews to check the financial health of the unit and take timely steps to see that investment given do not deteriorate in quality.
- Borrower Borrower selection in Credit Operations should maintain reasonable estimates of current assets, current liabilities and working capital.
- Borrower Borrower selection in Credit Operations should maintain classification of current assets and current liabilities as per bank’s guidelines.
- Borrower Borrower selection in Credit Operations should maintain a minimum current ratio of 1.33 except for export industry and for new units.
- Borrower Borrower selection in Credit Operations should submit annual audit accounts in time for annual review by banks.