THERE are jobs you find advertised three or more times in the papers in this country for having lacked takers, but never so conspicuously the position of a loan officer in a bank. Why is that?
While there may be a couple of excellent “labour market” theories to explain it, I think there is only one reason: The position is too lucrative to advertise conspicuously.
I am sure you are well aware of this. That in this country all lucrative jobs are passed from one person to the other through one channel, and one only; the complicated labyrinth of friends and family. No adverts. You doubt that? Think again. If you took the employment records of state parastatals, you will be shocked most lucrative positions in these firms will expose a pattern of employment given to close friends and family members of the chief executive. Welcome to Tanzania-- land of the silent nepotists.
We are full of praise that Tanzania's founding President Julius K. Nyerere contained nepotism and tribalism. Mh. Really! Parastatals were full of tribalism, and right in front of his eyes, and there is nothing he could do about it. It looks like something embedded in the culture or something.
There is a lucrative job in the office? Get an uncle's son for it first. None fits in? Not even by scanning other people's diplomas and changing names? Well, get a close friend's son then. None fits in, too? Well, Ok, put it in the Daily News!
One way to tell how an employee got his or her job in the parastatal would be to observe the manners. Those who got in by scanning diplomas and changing names would be lazy, careless on the job and very arrogant.
The unfortunate part is that the country has shifted from a command economy to a market economy but some of the tendencies manifest in the parastatals still linger. I'll bet you my last cent it is a labour market out there in which certificates, diplomas and degrees are not always the deciding factor. Your chances are most likely still decided by which friends and family members you have and where.
So you want to become a loan officer in a bank? Mh. You'd better start making friends in those banks now. I am sure one of these banks has an opening for loan officer, but sssh...., keep it quiet. Do you know anybody in these banks? I'll give you a list of four commercial banks which are known to have a very vibrant loan portfolio.
Some people are turning their lives around through loans from these banks, making poverty a thing of the past. And the loan officers are not doing bad at all, with monthly salaries flowing in, and of course the bribes from loan seekers. You can’t get a loan from a bank without bribing the loan officer good I am told. Welcome to Tanzania.
You have Access Bank, you have Akiba Commercial Bank, you have the National Micro-finance Bank, and the National Bank of Commerce. I heard CRDB Bank also gives loans; am just not too sure about it. One or more positions of loan officer should fall vacant from time to time in these banks, I am sure. You stand a chance.
Should you get this job, be it through your connections in the bank or some other way, please be different from the loan officer in the following story:
A skinny client walks into the vast hallway which leads to the loans department. The loan officer sizes her up as she passes the main information desk and tellers in glass cubicles on the left. Her eyes are fixed on the loan desk. But the loan officer has already made his mind she looks too poor to give a loan.
His judgement is blinded by the possibility she can not afford a bribe. The officer is not thinking it might be this same loan which might detach this young lady from her poverty trap.
There are five loan officers at the department seating behind black computers. The one exactly in front of the loan seeker takes a mobile phone and starts fiddling with it to force her to find somebody else to deal with. But the loan officer on the left signals the loan seeker to talk to the one fiddling with a mobile phone because he is tied up with something else.
The loan officer with a mobile phone is still too busy with his phone, the client stands waiting for ten minutes to get a chance to talk; and there is not a word from this officer to apologize for this lack of courtesy and respect. In his own mind, the loan seeker is in need, the bank is not.
But the mainstay source of revenue for the banking business is primarily the giving of loans. The bank and the loan seeker need each other. A loan seeker takes money from the bank, the loan seeker returns the loan with a fee on top of the original loan. The fee is called an “interest.”
Although there are other sources of income for the bank, such as the fee they charge for your use of the ATM machine, for clearing a check, the cash transfer fee, earnings from purchase of securities and bonds and the ownership of shares in companies, interest earnings from loans will always be a mainstay of the banking business. The loan officer who disrespects a loan seeker is in the wrong profession.
Do you still want to be a loan officer? It's a fine job. Just don't mistreat loan seekers—even if you got your job through nepotism.