Protecting our clients
- clients first
- steady improvement
Clients and their wellbeing are always our priority, even when other urgent work wants to divert our attention. But even before that, honesty is in the forefront of our minds in all we do and in our plans. We believe that even taking a small gift from clients or using their car to visit their homes for assessment is beyond acceptable. Not only can this lead to an increased risk of none-repayment. But it is not the example we would like to set. Since corruption is growing, we want to set a clear example against it.
In 2007 Furuz approved its first version of consumer protection policy. Even with many improvements among failures, we are still learning and upgrading. Furuz joined the SMART Campaign and acknowledges these goals:
In Tajikistan there is this saying: “You can lose money. But don’t lose your honor.” Warren Buffet puts it this way: “We can lose a million. We can lose many millions. But we cannot lose reputation.” This is correct. Therefore our priority is expressed in these client protection principles:
- Appropriate product design and delivery
- Prevention of over-indebtedness
- Responsible pricing
- Fair and respectful treatment of clients
- Privacy of client data
- Mechanisms for complaint resolution
A low turnover of loan officers is a good sign that product delivery is done for the benefit of clients. Products are designed in close cooperation with loan officers of all branches and branch managers. This is still rather easy in an MFI with 50 staff but will be a challenge in the future.
Our lending staff is trained and instructed in different ways to avoid over-indebtedness, often to our financial disadvantage. But we trust that clients will realize that and through increased trust we will win their faithfulness.
Transparency is not only fulfilling the requirements to show all loan requirements clearly but even in case of functional illiteracy explain important loan conditions orally, some of them more than once. It is not rare that guarantors (co-signers) don’t accept their responsibility when the loan officer or cashier explain that they have to repay the loan in case the clients fails to do so.
The goal in pricing of loans is the lowest possible interest rate while still achieving the long-term financial sustainability of the MFI.
Fair and respectful treatment of clients starts with our view that everyone is created in the image of God. As such, we achieve to respectfully treat everyone inquiring for a loan, knowing that some have been afraid to enter a “bank”. And last, but not least, fair and respectful treatment is of utmost importance in case of collecting debt from bad loans. While looking at the long-term, we avoid our short-term benefit by treating clients unfair, rude or even straightforward illegally.
We have established a complaint mechanism through trusted phone numbers in each branch. Each call is recorded and reviewed periodically.