The CBN’s directive of July 3rd 2019 compelling Nigerian Banks to maintain a Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 60%, wherein SMEs, retail, mortgage and consumer lending would be assigned a 150% weight in the computation of this LDR, has definitely been a game-changer in the industry as more commercial Banks focus on retail and SMEs to meet their lending quota in order to avoid stiff CBN sanctions that accompany noncompliance.
Indeed, the mass market has become the battleground for Nigeria’s financial institutions with institutional giants previously considered huge corporate giants jostling with Fintechs and MFBs for retail and SME customers, each outdoing themselves with mouthwatering rates and relatively easy to fulfil covenants for loans that are “a click away.” Naturally, this should be good news for the market as getting a loan has reportedly never been easier, but it is not. Most retail customers simply do not qualify for the type of loans they need.
No matter the pressure from CBN, banks are still profit-making institutions that are duty-bound to protect the interest of their stakeholders, hence their need to comply with best credit practices even when disbursing the smallest of amounts as loans. Their loans are thus, only given to those who meet their requirements, whose records show favourable odds.
Here are a few ways of increasing your odds at being pre-approved for your Bank’s retail/SME loan:
Consolidate your banking activities
If you are reading this, then I can safely guess you have an account in a Nigerian bank. If yes, then you probably have accounts with more than one bank; and you probably wear your resources thin trying to service these accounts because “they serve different purposes.” While this may be good for financial planning, it definitely works to your detriment in showing your true cash flow from your turnover.
Most retail loan applications require just one bank statement, and in the case where you may be allowed to present statements of more than one bank account for your loan application, a reviewer may suspect duplicity of transactions. Save yourself the hassles and consolidate your banking activities to one account for the purpose of your loan request; to show your capacity.
Ascertain your credit status
Do you have any outstanding debts owed to any financial institution? Perhaps you guaranteed a loan with your bank details or one of your abandoned accounts has a negative balance? Clear it before putting in your loan request.
Credit is mostly about character. Any financial institution willing to lend you money will make sure that you are in the habit of settling your debts, hence their need for a credit check. There are no forgotten loans in the system; whilst they may have been written off, they are not forgotten. Know your credit status today.
Build turnover and average balance
Turnover is the total amount that passes through an account within a period while the daily overnight balance on the account summed up and divided by the number of days under review is the average (daily) balance.
There is much emphasis on turnover amongst customers who seek loans; however, any credit officer worth his pay usually uses turnover in tandem with your average balance to make decisions on a loan request because the turnover addresses capacity while the average daily balance addresses available capital. Turnover may be easy to manipulate but your average daily balance is not. Build both.
“Show your workings”
As simple as it sounds, this could be the most common reason why some account statements are rejected as fraudulent and the loan requests of their owners denied – because they do not show any underlying transaction or pattern. They are haphazard at best.
It has become commonplace for SME owners to use their company’s account for personal expenses; withdrawing cash with their ATM cards and hardly describing their transactions in details such that a reviewer is unable to decipher who their suppliers or customers are from their bank statement. Not even salary payments appear to be recurring on these statements, as most transactions are in cash.
Account statements like this show early signs of impropriety that will have any credit officer doubting the management competence of the loan applicant.
All of these points, well-observed, may get you pre-approved but no loan is disbursed without a verifiable source of repayment. Collateral will definitely help to assure the lender but the cash flow of the borrower taken in context with the nature of the business is key.
While personal loans may be approved based on account analysis, valid Know Your Customer (KYC) documentation and credit checks (depending on the amount); contracting financial experts for proper bookkeeping and development of business plans could go a long way in getting your SME loan request approved.
This article first appeared in Nairametrics, May 3, 2021