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Setting Ambitious Goals for My Team and Achieving Them : An Interview with Mr. Swaminathan, CEO of Andromeda Loans

Digital lending has come a long way in India. The pandemic has fuelled a massive digital lending wave. Andromeda Loans has emerged as a reliable loan distributor seamlessly connecting borrowers and lenders. The company is the largest distributor of loans such as home loans, business loans, unsecured business loans, personal loans, and loans against property. […]

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Digital lending has come a long way in India. The pandemic has fuelled a massive digital lending wave.

Andromeda Loans has emerged as a reliable loan distributor seamlessly connecting borrowers and lenders. The company is the largest distributor of loans such as home loans, business loans, unsecured business loans, personal loans, and loans against property. The company has disbursed over Rs. 18,000 crore worth of loans to individuals and businesses.

Andromeda has also fostered strong partnerships with 70+ banks and other financial institutions to cater to the financing needs of individuals. Incorporated in Mumbai, we now have a strong base in 100+ cities including all major metros, Tier 1 and Tier 2 locations.

We also offer useful resources such as EMI calculators, eligibility criteria, tips, and more. Andromeda is the epitome of expertise, dedication and the drive to provide the best deal to customers. We provide the best loans by tailoring them according to the customer’s needs. This is the reason why we are the most preferred loan distributor in the country.    

Mr Swaminathan is the Founder and CEO of Andromeda and http://www.apnapaisa.com . We asked him a few questions.

Why did you decide to create your own business?

During the 1990s when the country was at the cusp of economic liberalization, a lot of opportunities opened up in modern technology and industrial development. I, and the other founders, struck upon the business idea by selling light fixtures through direct mail. However, the idea never fructified.

We soon decided to venture into the financial sector which was undergoing some major reforms during the period. Thus began the journey of a Direct Selling Agent which then became incorporated as Andromeda Marketing Pvt Ltd. in 1991. Once the company started operations, it soon grew to be the largest credit card and loan distributor in the Mumbai region by 1995. Andromeda quickly expanded to all major metropolitan cities across India. This further paved the way for entering into alliances with the prominent banks operating in the country.   

With a talented team, we quickly adapted to the rapidly changing market conditions to become the largest loan distributor. We take immense pride today to be a technology-driven, agile company putting consumers always first. We also leverage technology, analytics, and digital platform capabilities to their full potential to offer a seamless experience to the consumers.

How do you see things changing compared to pre-COVID?

This era of the global crisis has actually given rise to a lot of opportunities by accelerating digitalization. During the 2007-2009 financial crisis, we experienced an increase in prudential requirements, compliance costs and regulatory scrutiny which paved the way for a resilient banking sector. The same can be expected in the current context of COVID-19. Incentives from the government, policy changes, and robust measures will make loans more affordable for consumers in the near future.

What are the new opportunities you see on the horizon?

The massive application of digital technologies has made way for new products and services, which in turn have improved the efficiency of incumbent banks. This has also favoured the entry of Fintech companies and has triggered competition with traditional banking models. Technology has led to a disruption in the lending business. It has affected the payment systems, the way deposits are collected and also in capital market activities.

The growing focus on digitisation and the pressure of coping up with the challenges thrown by the new players in the field is constantly pressurizing banking institutions to innovate and add new products. We can expect innovation to take the centre stage in the coming days. And finally, I believe the end customer is the one who can take away a lot from this rapid transformation as lending is set to be a lot more seamless with minimal disbursal times.

What keeps you motivated?

What I find most motivating is setting ambitious goals for my team and achieving them. The financial sector is rapidly evolving which I knew would be challenging but doable as long as we push ourselves as a team continuously. Identifying challenges, overcoming them, working together as a team, and contributing towards something greater than me are my greatest motivators. I want people to gain easy access to financial services with the aid of modern technology.  

How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?

Irrespective of your role in an organization, managing everything is indeed a challenge. One of the greatest struggles is to fit everything within 24 hours. Waking up early truly helps. It gives me enough time to complete my projects beforehand. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received from someone is to act on priorities and dedicate time to everything that I take up. I have my priorities set, whether it is work, physical activity, family time, or anything else.

I always ensure that I do not end up mixing my professional and personal lives. Another great way to avoid stress is to plan ahead as much as your situation allows you to. Someone may be able to plan things down to the ‘T’ for the next couple of weeks, while another individual could do it for the next six months. This includes how much work you’re putting in every week, your workout time, vacation time, and even time spent hanging out with your friends.

What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?

According to me, a successful leader needs to be a good communicator, should be inwardly focused and should have great learning agility, and integrity. Effective communication and leadership go hand in hand. As a leader, you need to communicate in numerous ways right from passing on information to coaching your people. You also need to be a good listener and must be able to get your thoughts across to a wide range of people across various social identities and roles. The effectiveness and quality of your communication directly impact the success of your business strategies.    

Self-awareness is also paramount to successful leadership. The better you understand yourself, the more effective you can be. I cannot stress the importance of gratitude enough. Gratitude helps me deal with anything that comes my way effortlessly. Being appreciative helps me extract the best from my team.

The importance of integrity is obvious for any leader. Although it is not a metric evaluation, it is essential for an organization altogether. I reinforce the importance of integrity amongst all top-level executives in my team who chart the course of the organization and take significant decisions. I also make sure that my team makes a lot of money to meet their goals, are happy, focused and goal-oriented.      

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

It has undoubtedly been the current COVID-19 pandemic, just because of its sheer global scale. After inducing a deep global economic crisis, the pandemic created a large-scale wave of bankruptcies and insolvencies. Many people lost their jobs and the outlook was bleak, to say the least. All forms of lending stopped instantly and loan moratoriums started to pick up as borrowers needed some air to breathe amidst the chaos. When our country had just been grappling with the idea of financial inclusion, coronavirus hit us had and no one could see it coming.

Fortunately enough, this tough time also taught us that in order for the financial system to be effective, convenient access to financial services and any-time availability is vital. Even the government realized that access to easy credit supports individuals and businesses alike to stay afloat and survive the wave of unpredictability. I believe we are overcoming the COVID obstacle by taking the right approach of leveraging technology to help credit-seekers.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

The best piece of advice I have ever received in my life is to be good to people, both inside and outside of work. In fact, empathy is correlated with performance at work and is a crucial part of effective leadership. Being compassionate and humane helps you extract not just better performance from your team but also help you connect to them at a deeper level. Everybody is motivated to work in a positive setting.  

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

I love amassing different experiences apart from the grind of work and home. I feel it’s best to get out of the rut and do something that you’ve never done before. I love scuba diving. It is so calming to observe higher levels of biodiversity far away from the hustle and bustle of hectic lifestyles that we lead today. Being underwater makes me happy and soothes my mind. Being close to nature obviously has that great healing effect. 

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

I definitely have a broader vision to expand our current operations to tier 2 & 3 locations within the country. We are also working on increasing our digital footprint and consolidate our position as the largest phygital loan distributor in India. Making financial services easily accessible by anyone in every nook and corner of our country is my primary goal. Adapting to the rapid changes in technology and bettering the quality of services that we offer is also something that I’m constantly discussing with my team. I don’t intend to settle for what we have in the offing right now. Constantly bettering the services we offer and broadening our reach is my main objective.  

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