I had come to meet the chief risk officer (CRO) of Dhanvanti Bank – a bank which had grown in age but not size. If a bank had top-line of less than Rs. 1,000 cr in 90 years, it could only had been a parking lot for me hence I had no real business in meeting the CRO. More than that, it was the name. I found it hard to imagine that I would need to tell people, “Hey, I work with Dhanwanti Bank”. The name itself sounded like a Paan shop. But I wanted to give it a shot – what if it really clicks well. I was told that money would be good there. A friend of mine had given me the contact of the CRO and advised not take his name as reference.
“Are all IIM guys are like that?” was his first words to me and I was stumped.
“Like what?” I seriously wanted to know.
“You all change jobs so frequently. You all are confused.”
“That is not correct. Among my friends, some have changed frequently; some haven’t changed at all. These two ‘somes’ don’t make the entire sum as well.”
“I don’t believe you. I am yet to meet an IIM grad who hasn’t changed jobs and that too frequently” he had worked in India’s number one private bank for 23 years. Why he was working in such a small bank after such rich experience was something that puzzled me.
“In my humble opinion, you cannot generalize anything. One has to look at such things on case to case basis”
“That is the problem with you IIM guys. You have opinions but when it comes to making decisions, you fall flat.”
All I could do was to smile.
“You have mentioned in your resume that you have handled XYZ Ltd. How was your experience?”
“Company is good but I think their management is not up to the mark. You cannot really trust them”
“So will you lend them money?”
“That depends on the purpose of lending. If the project is viable, I shall be willing to take a small exposure but not a big one.” I thought I gave a very sensible answer.
“Where does the size of loan come in? Do you trust them or not?”
“I didn’t mean that trust factor was completely missing with XYZ. I meant that I wasn’t very comfortable with the management”
“Why cannot you take a call? You either trust someone or don’t. If you trust someone, you do business with him else not”
“I beg to differ. In my opinion, it has to be a function of risk and return. If a bank starts deciding who to lend and who not to lend just on the basis of trust, it might well end up with the government as its sole client. I agree that trust is an important factor in this business but one needs to look at the entire picture, analyze it and then decide. ”
“Again you are giving an opinion. Why cannot you make simple decisions?”
“It’s because you are giving me only scenarios on which I can only opine. I want my decisions to be based on facts and figures. There is another angle to my answer”
“What is that?” he asked.
“I met XYZ in a different capacity. If I meet them in the capacity of a banker, they will surely act differently”
“Trust is formed on the basis of how someone behaves with you. People behave differently with different people. Their behavior often depends upon the purpose of the interaction.”
“What crap? Either you trust someone or don’t”
“Well one has to look at the complete picture”
“You seem to have even drawn the picture but I am yet not clear if you trust XYZ or not. Being opinionated is good but being indecisive could be terrible”
I was thinking ‘At least one thing is decided, there is no match of opinions between us’
“Ok. Tell me the names of four of your four favorite Indian companies?” he asked.
“How much loan will you give to each of them?”
“It’s tough to answer. You need to tell me the purpose of lending.”
“You are a banker. Lending is your business. Tell me how much you will lend. Where does the purpose fit in?”
“I can tell you what all things I will look into before deciding the amount. I cannot think of an amount without more inputs”
“Again, you have opinions but you cannot make a decision”
I felt like slapping him hard and saying, ‘In my opinion, you deserved this. So I decided to give you what you deserve’.
By now, the outcome of the meeting had become obvious. So I tried to end the meeting.
“Can I ask you something?” I politely asked.
“Yes” he said.
“When you received my resume, how much salary did you decided to pay me?”
“What a stupid question. I don’t decide someone’s salary just after seeing his resume”
“Well you are a prospective employer and I am a prospective employee. You pay, I work. Tell me how much will you pay me?”
“Son, it’s not me who alone decides the salary. We have to take others opinions as well before a decision is made to even hire you, forget deciding your salary.”
“So you neither have an opinion nor made a decision” I said and rushed out of his office.
I called up my friend who had given me this CRO’s contact.
“How did it go?” he asked.
“Dude, what is his problem? Is he anti-IIM?”
“Well he is. Even when I was there, he used to take his vent out against IIMs. I saw him doing it so many times” my friend said laughingly.
“Was he brutally raped by someone from IIMs?” I asked.
“He…He…. No. I think it’s got something to do with his son. He couldn’t make it to IIMs in 4 years”
“Well not my fault if his sperms had low intelligent quotient.” I was wondering.