The Mastermind: Khurshed Alam

The Mastermind: Khurshed Alam

Khurshed Alam
Head of Retail Business
LankaBangla Finance Limited

LankaBangla Finance Limited started its journey long back in 1997 as a joint-venture financial institution with multinational collaboration having a license from Bangladesh Bank under Financial Institution Act-1993. Now LankaBangla is the country’s leading provider of integrated financial services, including corporate financial services, retail financial services, SME financial services, stockbroking, corporate advisory, and wealth management services. Under the broadest umbrella of financial products and service offerings, LankaBangla is the lone financial institution to operate credit cards (Mastercard and VISA). Since 2006 LankaBangla has been listed in both DSE & CSE in Bangladesh.

Mr. Khurshed Alam, Senior Executive Vice President, joined the then Vanik Bangladesh Limited in July 1998. He is currently looking after the Retail Businesses (Asset & Liability) of LankaBangla. As a long-term serving employee, he worked in various departments of the Company, including Finance, Administration, HR, Portfolio Management, Credit Card, Home Loan, SME Finance, Auto Loan, Personal Loan, and Retail Liability, etc.

Mr. Khurshed started his career as a Probationary Officer-Finance & Accounts in Rupali General Insurance Company Limited. He obtained his Honors and Masters in Management from the University of Dhaka. He also got his Post Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management (DPM) from the Bangladesh Institute of Management. He has attended a good number of training, workshop, and seminar at home and abroad.

Undoubtedly Mr. Khurshed Alam is the Mastermind of his arena. Let’s read the exclusive interview, don’t delay to open your rational mind.

We are delighted to have someone who meets outstanding success in his life. Mr. Khurshed Alam, you have an exceptional career peregrination. We are attentive to know the synopsis of your entire career journey.

Khurshed Alam: I joined the then Vanik Bangladesh Ltd. (later renamed as LankaBangla Finance Ltd.) in July 1998 as an Executive – Finance, and Administration. Afterward, I was promoted gradually as Assistant Manager, Manager, Portfolio Manager, Assistant Vice President, Vice President, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, and currently holding the position Senior Executive Vice President.

I look after the Retail Business Division. As a long-term serving employee, I worked in various departments of the organization, including Finance, Administration, Human Resource, Credit Card, Home Loan, SME Business, Auto Loan, Personal Loan, Retail Liability, and Digital Transformation Department.

Under my supervision, our Retail Asset portfolio was around BDT 30,000 million in 2019, the 2nd highest Retail Asset Portfolio among the current Retail Liability Portfolio is BDT 25,500 million, the 3rd highest Retail Liability Portfolio within the peer group. I’m glad to let you know that our credit card is in the 5th place among the Bank and FI’s in Bangladesh in terms of the number of cards and portfolios. Our Auto Loan is the pioneer in the Auto Loan industry.

I had introduced the Home Loan, Personal Loan in 2008, and Digital Transformation Department In 2019. I restructured the Credit Card Department in 2011, Auto Loan Department in 2012, and the Retail Liability Department in 2017 and started a new journey under my supervision.

I got the Retail Monitoring and Collection team in 2020 as new job responsibility and supervised around 1000+ employees. I always love to take challenges, creativity, and innovative new product.

We all know “Retail Financial Service” is a challenging arena in this new normal world. What is the present state of LankaBangla Finance Ltd. concerning your division?

Bangladesh has booming prospects for setting up retail business due to the middle-class population and young professionals. The median age of the population is 27.6 years, whose lifestyle is changing daily. As per recent data working-age population (prime working-age group 25-54 years) is 40.72% of the total population. This is one of the most extensive retail consumer bases in the world. Currently, per capita income is USD 2,227 (as per the latest information on May 2021).

In the last 5 years, the country’s population growth rate was around 1.00%, whereas the urban population growth rate was 3.29%. The urban population growth rate is higher than that of South Asia, 2.47%. This urban consumer class (around 60 million People) promises that Bangladesh remains one of the fastest-growing retail markets worldwide.

As per the BCG report, a wider geographic dispersion of prosperity has a relatively concentrated geographic focus (currently 80% concentration in Dhaka & Chattogram). So effectively, new townships would see Retail Financial Market growth in the next 4 years.

But the financial sector of Bangladesh in a challenging situation in last couple of years. Most Banks and FI’s are in facing challenges regarding loan default, high non-performing loans, and other issues. The pandemic situation has made the situation more unsatisfactory for the whole economy. Customer payment behavior has been changed dramatically.

The present state of LBFL during pandemic situation:

Substantial impact on life and livelihood of retail customers: Adjusting to “A New Normal”.

  • A new era of banking driven by digital innovation & transformation
  • Increasing preference towards digital banking instead of visiting brick and mortar branches
  • Impact on the behavioral finance of the people by influencing on their expense nature & savings pattern
  • Changing attributes of retail banking through MFS and proper application of E-KYC
  • Preference towards going cashless with the increased use of credit cards and E-commerce and online transactions
  • Greater possibility of increased demand for retail loans in 2021 compared to 2020
  • Reduced the branch space and introduced the work from home for 30% employees with the virtual platform
  • To increase the footsteps, we introduced hub and spoke model at the untapped market

As a HoD, how do you keep your team members keen and motivated? What is the magic!

My initiative for motivating my team is to get to know them, uncover what they are passionate about, and find out how they like to be recognized. I always try to provide my team with proper recognition, tasks that they enjoy and feel they are good at – then they will perform as a motivated key player, which can benefits the entire growth of the Organization. I always listen to their problems and want to know 2/3 options from them to solve the problem, and I just choose the solution with a little bit of modification, if required. Actually, I believe in participating in management; as a result, they feel proud to be a part of the decision-maker.

I motivate my team by being an example as I believe in Lead by example. If you observe the glorious journey of my career from the beginning, you will find I am always a problem solver, and I love to do that. Even, now I show excitement for new projects, find the best in all situations, and bring an infectiously good mood to the workplace, even with maintaining a hygienic toilet. The right mindset will set off a great creative working environment. So the magic is to be humble, polite, and look after the team for work life balance besides organizational growth.

My team members are also motivated by financial rewards, bonuses, and recognition. For this reason, I often plan and execute a sales campaign with prizes, including gift cards, and arrange traveling domestic and abroad as free of cost (provided by the organization) for campaign winners. These initiatives get my competitive team and team members are excited and often give us the extra push needed to exceed my monthly achievement.

What LankaBangla – Experience do you want to write in your biography?

I joined the then Vanik Bangladesh Ltd. (currently known as LankaBangla Finance Ltd.) in July 1998 as Executive – Finance, and Administration. Prior to joining the LankaBangla, I was at the country’s one of the largest general insurance companies as a Finance and Accounts Executive.

As a long-term serving employee, I worked in various departments of the organization. Basically, I was involved in the back office but switched to business from the back office in 2008. During my tenure, I helped my organization establish a retail business and a renowned BRAND based company for quality products and services. I feel proud for LankaBangla because it is now the household name in the country and famous in the credit card and Auto loan industry along with other product portfolio. For my various achievements, the organization gave me a remarkable promotion several times. Currently, I am holding the position of Senior Executive Vice President and looking after the entire Retail Business with the supervisor of 1200 employees, the largest team of LankaBangla.

My retail business division is now contributing the most extensive portfolio, FUM, and organization profit within 12 years of journey.

I always love to take challenges, creativity, and innovative new product. I was awarded by Chairman’s Eminence Award, MD’s Brilliance Award, Best Performer Award during my career. I underwent training from HDFC, IIM-India, SIM-Singapore, CompassPlass-Russia, AOTS-Japan, Digital Transformation: Platform Strategy from MIT Sloan School of Management and attended a good number of workshops and seminars abroad.

Mr. Khurshed Alam, many people follow you like their professional icon. Would you please say something to them?

Keep educating yourself and focus on your studies and find learning opportunities, don’t follow peoples’ negative thoughts and beliefs nor the culture; instead, inspire others to follow you and be a role model to your society, fellow colleagues, and to your family.

Keep motivating yourself, try thousands of ways, and come up with the best version of yourself. Don’t be disappointed when none of them work. You are not the only one who suffers, there are thousands more who suffer even more than you, but they didn’t quit; they started struggling even harder. Never give up; rather, try to learn from failure, never be jealous of others, rather grow yourself.

Don’t let anybody destroy your peace of mind. You are on the right path to pursue your dreams. But, you have to be ready to do whatever you are interested in. You are the hero of your workplace, family, society, community, and your country.

Try to be proactive, think out of boxes, be a self-starter, quick learner, and self-motivator, and don’t fear taking the risk. If you want to touch the sky, you have to accept that you may fall down so many times. Don’t let anybody destroy your peace of mind. You are lucky more than you think; just believe in yourself everything will come to you at the right time.

Finally, keep yourself loyal and committed to your organization, control yourself and never look back.

Your personal and professional life is synthesized with Bangladesh. What’s your plan for your motherland Bangladesh?

“Digital Bangladesh” is a major goal of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the country. So special emphasis is given to applying digital technologies to realize an ICT-based modern nation by 2021. Bangladesh also has the advantage of having a large young population. A minimum of 65 percent of the population is below 30 years old, which is an advantage for us. So it is essential whether we can utilize all human resources for our national development.

However, what is often forgotten is that most Bangladeshi do not belong to the privileged class. The average Bangladeshi, in the villages, in the Union Parishads, is not thinking about AI or 5G internet. They are just trying to make their lives a little bit better, and we are trying to get closer to the digital lives of marginal people.

Bangladesh has made significant progress in financial inclusion over the past eight years, with as much as 48% of the adult population now under the banking umbrella. In 2013, only 20 percent of Bangladesh’s adult population was under the umbrella of formal financial services. Yet, there are many things to do as many people remain out of any traditional financial services. Rural markets and people are still outside significant banking services. We like to bring them under the banking umbrella through digital platform.

About 22 million people are still living below the poverty line in our country. Bangladesh is at an important juncture: I believe we can move up within the middle-income bracket with the right policies and timely action. The World Bank has already identified job creation as the country’s top development priority. We need to create more and better jobs for the 2 million youth entering the job market every year. To do so, we have to remove the barriers to higher growth posed by low access to reliable and affordable power, poor transportation infrastructure, limited availability of serviced land, uncertain and complex business regulation, rapid urbanization, and vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, among others.

Finally, I want to be part of sustainable development and a stable digitalize economy of my motherland.

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