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Life as a loans officer

Kareen Cox
Career writer

Could you find a satisfying career in loans? While the thought of dispensing millions to eager borrowers and the juicy commissions earned therefrom might come to mind, the role can be a very challenging one.

Typically, loan officers specialise in consumer, commercial or mortgage loans.
For those of us who are desirous of buying a house or car, or would like to start our own business, a loan from a bank, building society, credit union or any other financial institution in most cases, is the only way to achieve these major life goals.

But don't think you can just walk into your institution of choice and automatically receive a loan. Once a decision has been made to take out a loan, a loan officer from the selected financial institution has to be contacted to begin the process.

In recent times, we have seen the introduction of other types of loans, such as personal loans and refinancing loans, and as financial institutions strive to meet the needs of their clients, loan officers must be prepared to learn about any new product types as the need arises.

According to the U.S. Department of Labour, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, loan officers are responsible for:

Finding potential clients, businesses or individuals who are in need of loans

Assisting clients with the loan application process

Gathering personal information about clients and businesses to ensure an informed decision regarding their creditworthiness and the probability of repayment

Analysing and verifying the loan application to determine the client's ability to afford the loan

Guiding prospective borrowers who have problems qualifying for traditional loans.

In addition, loan officers sometimes act as salespeople.
For example, commercial loan officers, contact firms to determine their needs for loans. If a firm is seeking new funds, the loan officer will try to persuade the company to obtain the loan from his or her institution.

Similarly, mortgage loan officers develop relationships with commercial and residential real estate agencies so that, when an individual or firm buys a property, the real estate agent might recommend contacting a specific loan officer for financing.

On average, approximately 5 per cent of borrowers from credit unions alone in Jamaica, default on their loans, therefore some loan officers are required to act as loan/debt collection officers, contacting borrowers with delinquent loan accounts in order to help them find a method of repayment to avoid their defaulting on the loan.

If a repayment plan cannot be developed, the loan collection officer initiates collateral liquidation, in which the lender seizes the collateral used to secure the loan-a home or car, for example-and sells it to repay the loan.

*Kareen Cox is co-ordinator of the career resources
department within the HEART Trust/NTA. Email
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