Com­pe­tence of SME vi­tal in cred­it­wor­thi­ness — Ros­abon CEO

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - From Sun­day Michael Ogwu, Lagos

How would you de­scribe the op­er­a­tions of Ros­abon in Nigeria so far?

I have been with the or­ga­ni­za­tion for close to 10 years, and in the ca­pac­ity of the chief ex­ec­u­tive for about 6 to 7 years. We are a fi­nan­cial ser­vices ad­vi­sory and in­ter­me­di­a­tion firm, which started oper­a­tion in 1993.

We are ap­proach­ing our 25th year which is quite sig­nif­i­cant in the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try be­cause it means that we have been through a lot and still re­main rock sold. It is a tes­ta­ment to the guid­ance, di­rec­tions and in­put of all those in­volved.

We have gone through an evo­lu­tion and cur­rently where we are is in line with our vi­sion, which is to cre­ate the ex­cel­lent, best bou­tique fi­nance me­di­a­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion in Africa. We are march­ing to­wards that and we are con­fi­dent that would be the case.

How de­scribe in­dus­try cur­rently? would you the fi­nan­cial land­scape

I came in from the United King­dom about 10 years ago and that is the only time I can speak about. We have gone through the evo­lu­tion of the uni­ver­sal bank­ing that was put through by Pro­fes­sor Charles Soludo at that time with the re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion ex­er­cise.

Un­for­tu­nately, the tech­ni­cal side of that did not match with the fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal strength that they had, so we had a sit­u­a­tion where some of the banks had to go un­der, which led to the Sanusi Lamido’s in­ter­ven­tion at that point in time.

What we are now see­ing is that, there is ma­tu­rity and more pro­fes­sion­al­ism, and I am not just speak­ing about the com­mer­cial bank­ing sec­tor. There had been things that had been done on the Pri­mary Mort­gage Institution (PMI) side and the Mi­cro fi­nance bank, as well as other fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions of which we fall part of.

With the ad­vance­ment in tech­nol­ogy, there is greater fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion. There is more that needs to be done in the as­pect of Chuk­wuma Ochono­gor, the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Ros­abon Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Lim­ited met with our re­porter on the Nige­rian fi­nan­cial sec­tor, where he dis­cussed how his firm has man­aged to keep ad­vanc­ing low in­ter­est loans to Small and Medium En­ter­prises and its planned ex­pan­sion into other African coun­tries. Ex­cerpts: mo­bile money, which should bring more of the un­banked closer and hope­fully be able to repli­cate the suc­cess that they have in places like Kenya.

All in all, I would say the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor is fairly strong. I will view it as one of the rather few suc­cess sto­ries that we have in Nigeria.

How do you man­age to ad­vance low in­ter­est rates, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing where the MPR is pegged?

That is where we are dif­fer­ent from our com­peti­tors. When I say I am con­fi­dent in the fu­ture of Ros­abon, that is where it lies. It lies with the cal­iber of our team and the in­no­va­tive­ness of our or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Lend­ing is typ­i­cally an odi­ous sit­u­a­tion and that is be­cause no­body likes non-per­form­ing loans (NPLs). But with the so­phis­ti­ca­tion of our risk man­age­ment sys­tem, we are able to re­ally place th­ese clients into dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories. Rather than a one size fits all, we are able to re­ward low risk, low re­peat client with low in­ter­est rate. We are work­ing on some­thing that will make it even cheaper for our clients.

We are al­ways about cus­tomer de­light and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, al­ways con­tin­u­ously work­ing on our pro­cesses and doc­u­men­ta­tions, to make the ap­pli­ca­tion process as pain­less as pos­si­ble. Lever­ag­ing on tech­nol­ogy, data, cus­tomer feed­back, on what they think, like and don’t like.

There isn’t enough credit his­tory about peo­ple in Nigeria, what is that crit­i­cal les­son for the fi­nan­cial space in the way Ros­abon has man­aged to deal with the SMEs?

How I would an­swer this is that, imag­ine you are a lender, and you have given money out and it has not come back. First of all, there is that psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma that sets in that makes you say ‘I am done’. How­ever, we look at it as a chal­lenge to be over­come. Com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage comes from you be­ing able to do what your com­peti­tors can­not do. That is where we fo­cus our­selves and our IP (In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty).

There are still a lot of sup­port­ing that needs to be done around the credit bu­reaux. But un­less you give peo­ple the loans, they will not have the data to put through. It is al­most like how grad­u­ates go for em­ploy­ment and they say we want ex­pe­ri­ence and they say if you don’t give me em­ploy­ment, how would I get ex­pe­ri­ence.

You re­cently got into the Abuja mar­ket, how would you eval­u­ate your re­cep­tion and the prospect for the mar­ket?

We have been re­ceived very well in the Abuja mar­ket. We went into this mar­ket af­ter calls, emails and web­site re­quests for our prod­ucts and so­lu­tions. Due to that, we sent in our re­search team to con­duct a fea­si­bil­ity study and they came back pos­i­tive with the dif­fer­ent tar­get mar­ket seg­ments that were avail­able and vi­able. We took the de­ci­sion to go in and so far, it has been good.

We are telling Abuja mar­ket that they now have a re­li­able part­ner. A part­ner that lis­tens and wants to make life eas­ier in terms of the ser­vices we pro­vide, a part­ner that is fa­nat­i­cal about ex­cel­lence.

We also launched our life­style trea­sury prod­uct that caters for dif­fer­ent tar­get mar­kets and tar­get seg­ments and all the de­tails are avail­able on our web­site. We are al­ways look­ing for fi­nan­cial so­lu­tion that will match what you are and what you can, given your sit­u­a­tion.

Chuk­wuma Ochono­gor

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