Successful bankers have a way about themselves. They exude aristocracy much more than the rich of any other stream. Their job is to keep the money coming in. The cash flow cannot stop, come what may. They seldom talk in terms of how many of certain things have to be sold. Rather they always weigh in the profits in terms of how long, “Is my cash flow based on an internal rate of return or net rate of return? How long will this take to double the principle?” They make money with money – Other People’s Money.
Jerry Roland was one such banker; Focused, Flamboyant and shrewd. His receding hairline gave off his high pressure lifestyle but that had no effect on his mesmerizing personality. At forty two he was much more energetic than most of his younger subordinates. He could read people’s minds with his sea blue eyes. He was the dream-man of innumerable women around him. He never failed to attract their dreamy eyed admiration. He always maintained a brisk pace while walking. And when he walked, there was always a bunch of people scampering about him either trying to ask him something or taking orders from him.
It was an over cast Friday morning when he dashed into his office with his signature flair. Every time he entered, the force with which he pushed open the door would cause the curtains on the window on the opposite side to slide by an inch. He was the best asset to the organization, so he was assigned this imposing office overlooking the East Bay which always smelt characteristically of the birch wood so extensively used to decorate the interiors.
As he entered, his secretary stood up from her desk at the far end of the room and greeted him, “Good Morning Mr. Roland!” Jerry replied with an acknowledging nod of his head. She serially arranged the papers on her desk for the briefing. As jerry walked to his swivel-chair, he unbuttoned his exclusive Armani jacket. He took it off and carefully arranged it over the high back of his chair before sitting down. When he settled himself into the chair he loosened his tie, and swiveled his chair to face the secretary, “So what’s the day’s agenda, Brenda?”
Brenda came and stood beside his chair. She lay down a few sheets of paper in front of him, on his desk. She started of with practiced precision, “Sir, this Mr. Jackson seems to be an area of concern for the bank. These are his loan payment statements for the past year. He was issued a loan amount of sixty thousand pounds for his shipping business. He hasn’t made any payments since eight months now. His total outstanding stands at ninety five thousand pounds. We have contacted him several times asking for the payments. He just alludes by saying he is bankrupt.”
“Hmmmmmmmm…..” he picked up the papers from his desk and leaned back into his chair. He flipped through the papers one by one. When he reached the last sheet he asked Brenda, “You said he’s not been making any payments. I see he has made some payments every month.”
Brenda replied, “Close to nothing considering his dues.”
“So he’s been trying to make payments.” Jerry said analytically. “Does he own a house?”
“Yes, he is in sole possession.”
“Does he have a mortgage on that?”
“Let me call him.” He picked up his phone and dialed the number listed on the statement.
It took five rings before there was an answer to his call, “Hello.”
Jerry asked in his customer centric demeanor, “May I speak with Martin Jackson?”
“This is he” came the reply in a deep voice.
“Mr. Jackson this is Jerry Roland, The Managing Director of Axim Bank. How are you doing?”
This threw the conversation off track but Jerry knew too well how to handle it, “Let me be of some assistance here. Mr. Jackson I realize you have been having some problems keeping up with your loan payments with Axim Bank. I understand….”
“Hey Listen. You don’t understand. You haven’t gone through what I’ve have gone through. My business crashed overnight. I had backstabbers for business partners. I’ve had sickness in my family and I am the only earning member now. And I am not making all this up, ok! You don’t understand.”
Jerry kept his calm through all the rudeness being hurled at him, “Well, why don’t we try and work out a solution for all this.”
“There isn’t any solution.”
“You do own a house.”
“What about it?”
“I can help you with excellent deals on the mortgage of the house.”
“Hey, don’t even think about that. That house is the only thing I got and I ain’t gonna let it go.”
“Do you have any other options?”
“No I don’t. But I’ll pay when I have the money ok. Don’t push me.”
“Mr. Jackson, why don’t you come over at my office?”
“So you ain’t gonna rest until you get my house sold huh? I’ll be there.” Martin hung up.
The next morning Jerry found Martin waiting in his office even before he arrived. Martin was younger than Jerry had expected. He was in his mid thirties. He was a dignified man but looked bogged down by all his worries. Jerry figured that he must have spent the night drinking from his red, swollen eyes. He seemed to be in a hurry. The moment Jerry entered; he looked at him and stood up, as if to get started with whatever he was called for. Jerry could hear the rattle of dimes coming form the pocket of his old but clean jacket. “Mr. Jackson?” Jerry asked. “Yes” replied the man. “Please have a seat.” Jerry gestured him to sit on the chairs in front of his desk.
Jerry started in a reassuring tone, “I am glad you came by Mr. Jackson.”
Martin replied with his perpetual rudeness, “You will be. After all you are getting a chance to take over my house.”
Jerry said defensively, “We are not taking over your house. We are just providing you with finance against your house.”
“Its just the same. Listen, I’ll pay back your loan when I have the money. If you want to help me just stop the interest being charged on me. Your interest rates are too high.”
“As much as I want to help you on this, our company policies won’t allow me to.” Jerry was a considerate man and wanted to help Martin, but he was a shrewd business man. He was paid to be an opportunist. He said, “I can help you get a mortgage on your house with much lower interest rate.”
Frustrated, Martin said, “I knew you would say that. Just do what you gotta do fast. I’ve gotta go.”
Just then, Jerry’s phone started ringing. He picked it up and said, “Hello.” He listened for a while and suddenly his expression changed. He looked troubled. There was anxiety in his voice, “Where is he now? ………… What does the doctor say? ………… I am coming right now.” When he hung up, he fell back into his chair, covered is face with his palms and cried.
A disturbed Martin asked with concern, “What’s the matter Mr. Roland?”
Jerry replied through his sobs, “Its my boy; he’s sick. The doctor says he has SARS. They don’t understand how he got it. They say the chances of curing it are dim.”
“I’ll tell you what.” Martin said as he took a piece of paper from the memo cube placed on the desk. He took permission to use Jerry’s pen, “Can I use your pen?” Jerry nodded. Martin wrote something on the paper and when he was finished he pushed the piece of paper towards Jerry. He said, “I come from the jungles of Africa. People there are uneducated and traditional. But they know how the nature works. They know its secrets. There is this old lady in Zaire. She is ninety three years old. She might be able to cure your son with herbal medicines. You can try. She’s a miracle worker.”
Jerry said, “Appreciate you showing so much concern. I need to go now. Can I request you to come and see me at a more suitable time?”
“Take your son to Africa. He’ll be fine” replied Martin and stood up from the chair to leave. He shook hands with Jerry and walked out of the door.
Martin was surprised when he stopped receiving notifications of his dues with Axim Bank after he last met with Jerry. He was rather uneasy. So it was after three months that Jerry received a call and was both surprised and delighted to hear Martin’s voice on the other side.
“Nice to hear from you Mr. Jackson,” Jerry said. Martin was appreciative of Jerry’s pleasant response. But he was also apprehensive. Was this the pleasantry before the slaughter?
“Ya Know, I was just wondering. I haven’t received any notification on my deferred loan payments lately. Is something wrong?” Martin chose his words carefully.
Jerry replied a tad too blithe, “Well Mr. Jackson. You don’t have to pay it anymore. The bank has written off your loan.”
“B….But How’s that possible? I mean….. I don’t understand.”
“Don’t worry Mr. Jackson. I pushed some papers around for you. Its all taken care of.”
“But, why the favor?”
“Because I owed you one.”
That suddenly reminded Martin of something. He asked Jerry, “How’s your son doing?”
“Oh he is excellent. He is just fine. And yes, he loves Africa.”
A smile of satisfaction passed over Martin face. He triumphantly said, “I told you he’ll like it there.”
Then there was a pause in the conversation. Martin broke the silence, “So, call me if you need anything else.”
Jerry replied, “I will Mr. Jackson, I will. Have a nice day.”