TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP, AN EXAMPLE
Back in 1986, Manappuram was a single branch entity based at Valapad (Thrissur District) with total assets of Rs.25 lakhs and three employees, serving perhaps a couple of thousand customers. Today, we are a nationwide presence with over 3,300 branches across 26 states and UTs. Our assets under management (AUM) stand at about Rs.10,000 crore, we have 18,000 employees, and a live customer base of 15 lakhs.
The question may be asked, how did the transformation take place? The short answer is that the Manappuram story is about how transformational leadership succeeded in transforming the organisation by focusing on the four key transformations listed below. I. Transform the product
I. Transform the product
II. Transform the customer
III. Transform the employees
IV. Transform the community’s perceptions
Transform the product
“Success is not about doing extraordinary things but about doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways”
For a long time, Gold loans were sold as a “one-size-fits-all” product. Manappuram has been a pioneer innovator in gold loans. As the first corporate entity to take up gold loans, we were the earliest to introduce variety to gold loans. This was done essentially by offering progressively higher LTVs at higher price points. We were also among the first in the financial sector to advertise its gold loans. It happened sometime in the late eighties when we took out small “ear panel” newspaper advertisements. In those days of credit rationing, banks and finance companies advertised their deposits but not their loans products. Another important innovation for which we can claim credit is the introduction of the one-day gold loan at a time when the norm was to recover interest for a minimum of seven days.
Manappuram was also the first gold loan company to invest in its own in-house technology platform. Later, as the system was upgraded, it became among the earliest to adopt the “core banking” platform. Our investments in technology have helped in streamlining procedures to reduce turnaround times in gold loan disbursements and in implementing advanced risk management practices.
Transform the customer
Gold loans have existed for ages without changing much. It was always a traditional activity carried on in the same age-old way by neighbourhood pawnbrokers.
There’s no denying that gold loans have long carried a negative perception about them. It was often seen as a distress loan and there was a social stigma attached to pledging gold. Consequently, rather than pledge gold, many preferred to go to moneylenders and borrow at exorbitant rates rather than take a gold loan.
Manappuram has been proactive in tackling this sensitive issue head on. By introducing transparency in the gold loans process, confidence was instilled in the customer that they need not have worries about the security of their gold. A high power advertising campaign followed that featured credible local brand ambassadors who made it a point to talk to the people in their own languages about the virtues of gold loans. This campaign, initiated in 2010, was a milestone and it featured stars like Mohanlal and Akshay Kumar. It is widely acknowledged to have transformed the general opinion of the people about gold loans and it has succeeded in increasing its acceptability
Transform the employee
Manappuram’s success owes not so much to extraordinary people as to ordinary people working together to deliver extraordinary results.
The company has cultivated a culture of openness where all transactions are routed through the books and nothing is hidden. Therefore, it can easily maintain trust in its employees. The company has a policy of rotating employees through different assignments and departments in order to groom them for leadership roles. Employee skills are continuously upgraded through regular and intensive training programmes.
Moreover, the company goes out of its way to offer incentives to the employees at branches and the HO that acknowledge the good work that is done, be it in mobilising NCDs or in improving gold loan recovery. It’s also a fact that Manappuram’s employees were given the opportunity to share in the success of the company, as when ESOPs were given to middle and senior management officials and other senior staff members. All our employees with five years of service are eligible to pursue an MBA degree sponsored by the company where they attend classes during office hours. The Company has recruited over 50 Chartered Accountants, ICWA’s and Company Secretaries to improve knowledge levels at the operating levels
Transform the community’s perceptions
It’s common knowledge that many people are prejudiced against private finance companies that are popularly referred to in Kerala as “blade” companies.
Manappuram has an extensive corporate social responsibility (CSR)mission focussed on the area around Valapad where the company’s Head Office is located. The Manappuram Foundation provides free Health Insurance to 20,000 BPL families in the seven Panchayats adjoining its HO. In the three years it’s been in existence, more than 5,000 families have benefited and nearly Rs.6 crore have been reimbursed to them. The programme has been an outstanding success in terms of meeting a critical need of the local people, and also in terms of improving the image of the company. Moreover, Manappuram has also become a preferred avenue for employment among the local youth. We recruit ordinary graduates who are then trained and groomed for rewarding assignments. In a state where job prospects are scarce, the company’s presence in Valapad is a reassurance to the local youth.
Final word: Over the last nearly three decades, Manappuram has grown to acquire national stature and it’s become a household name in India. The Company has both transformed and reinvented itself. Today, as the conditions in the market change, these skills are needed more than ever.