Brinda, Credit Assessor to Business Analyst
5 min read
We speak with Brinda about her time as one of Tic:Toc's first Credit Assessors and her new role as Business Analyst
Some say she can recite the credit policy off-by-heart. Others claim she enjoys it as light reading before bedtime. Either way, Brinda is an expert when it comes to assessing home loans. She's been with Tic:Toc from the start, and now she's using her credit knowledge and skills to supercharge our Product team as a Business Analyst. We caught up with Brinda to gain her insights into life at Tic:Toc.
I’m Brinda Manickam, and I’ve just started a new role as Business Analyst at Tic:Toc. Before that, I was a Credit Assessor.
I started my career as a Credit Assessor with a different organisation back overseas. I then had a break and went to different departments within that organisation, and then when I saw this job I was really excited to come back to Credit Assessment. So now I’ve been with Tic:Toc for three years and nine months — it's been a long but rewarding journey!
I’ve been with Tic:Toc before we launched, actually. I remember when there were only 20 other people here and more than half of the office was empty. We’ve grown a lot in that time, and I’m so happy to have seen it grow. I’ve always worked for really big organisations, and it’s easy to feel like just a number there. So I found Tic:Toc’s growth to be so much more rewarding.
I remember when the first version of our digital application was just three pages — it was still in it’s very early stages!
My favourite part was definitely approving a loan. If the customer was happy, and the outcome was really good, then I’d be happy! Especially when we would finish up our assessment and hit that final ‘approve’ button — that’s the best part.
The impression that I get from people I meet is they think it’s just processing an application. They think it’s paperwork and reviewing documents, and they think it’s a boring role. Or that it doesn’t take any skill. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes a lot of experience, a lot of skill, and a lot of analysis — it always keeps you on your toes. You’re doing more than processing an application; you’re lending money and you’re making a big decision. So you have to make sure you’re lending to the right people, and that you’re lending responsibly. You have to be prudent and vigilant, you have to run all the right checks. And that requires a bit of industry knowledge too. You need to know a little about the financial industry, how tax returns work, and what to look for. And that certainly requires experience in order to perform well as a Credit Assessor.
Another misconception is when dealing with a customer, they may say “oh, I earn this much”, but then we need to decline their application because they don’t meet our serviceability criteria. Some take this quite personally and can be offended, but what they don’t immediately understand is that serviceability depends on much more than just income. There are lots of additional factors which go into our assessment. Things like your expenses and other financial commitments can influence your serviceability too. These customers who become quite offended sometimes think we don’t know anything, or that we’ve made a mistake in our assessment. But almost always, it’s a case of the customer not understanding their true financial position or not understanding how financials are assessed for a home loan. The truth is we have an amazing digital platform at Tic:Toc, so we have a very clear and accurate picture of their financial position. We place a lot of emphasis at Tic:Toc to explain home loans as best we can, in simple terms, and to increase people’s financial literacy. But the lack of understanding about serviceability is still a challenging misconception we face as Credit Assessors.
That it takes strong communication skills. As a Credit Assessor you’re dealing with a written credit policy overlaid with other compliance measures as you assess financial information. Translating all of this information and explaining it to customers in easy-to-understand terms takes a lot of knowledge, experience, and patience. For customers, applying for a home loan is a very personal experience. You’re providing a lot of personal and financial information, and oftentimes you’re about to purchase a new house so you may be under some stress and have a lot on your mind already. Add to that the complexity of applying for a home loan in the hopes of being approved, and the whole experience can be overwhelming. So for Credit Assessors, it’s about navigating that challenge with them by communicating complex information in a sensitive way.
For example, we can’t give 30-year loan terms to older applicants. They need to prove they can service the loan for the loan term, and if they expect to retire soon then it’s much riskier to issue a 30 year loan term. We may be able to offer a 10 year loan term instead, but that will increase repayments. So you can’t tell a customer “Sorry, we can’t lend to you because you’re too old”. You need to take a much more sensitive approach, and take the time to explain the situation and what their options are. So that level of communication and the need to manage expectations is certainly challenging.
I can’t even imagine doing the job I do now at a different lender. Having to assess applications completely manually — it would be like going backwards for me.
From Seek. I saw a Credit Assessor role advertised, and I saw it was advertised from a company called Tic:Toc. So I searched the web for Tic:Toc, but I couldn’t find any info about it anywhere. This was before the company had officially launched, so everything was still being kept very hush hush. I thought it was a broker company, and I wasn’t really sure about it. I decided to go for an interview, and lucky I did. I became one of Tic:Toc’s first Credit Assessors.
My favourite part is definitely the fact that we’re a Fintech. Things are happening here, innovation is happening here. In my previous roles, I had no idea what a Business Analyst was, or what an Agile workplace was. They might have had those, but it was such a big organisation that I never had that visibility. At Tic:Toc, I’ve now come to know what the Testing team does, and how the Marketing team works. I understand the organisation a lot better. And now since working in an Agile environment, I can’t imagine going back to working the old way. I can’t even imagine doing the job I do now at a different lender. Having to assess applications completely manually — it would be like going backwards for me. I love our online application and our automatic validation.
Continuing on from the previous answer, I get the opportunity to learn a lot more. It’s not just Credit Assessment. I get to work with all sorts of teams within the business and I get to really understand the business holistically. That was something I could never do at my previous role. I was very fortunate in that I was able to see the business grow from the beginning, so I’ve had a unique perspective on how a business grows and also how each business unit grows and develops. I’ve seen our Data Science team grow, for example, and I actually understand what they do and how they contribute to the business.
I’m especially involved in developing our digital credit decisioning platform, XAI Validate. I get a lot of opportunity to provide feedback on the designs, on the functionality, and to raise bugs. The developers are very open to feedback and are always trying to improve the platform. We say “this is what we want”, and quite often they’ll change it. For example, we recently had a feature implemented which wasn’t useful, so we were able to speak directly with the developers (who are all in-house) and they fixed the feature to make it much more usable. So they hear us and they implement feedback all the time. And the fact that they are constantly looking for ways to improve our experience and to add new features, that gives me a lot of confidence in the platform that we're building and in the Tic:Toc business too.
I’m not much of a socialiser — but I have so many good friends right across the business, in all departments. We do have a lot of social activities that we do within the team, but I think my favourite part is getting to know others within the business. It really helps later on when you need to work or consult with another department of the business. Communication is much easier because oftentimes you already have a great working relationship with at least someone from that team. So it makes collaboration much easier. And getting to know other people isn’t so hard when you have as many shared lunches as we do.
It’s a pretty quiet city. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a library, It's that peaceful. Especially compared to where I’ve come from. I find Adelaide to be really handy, you can get anywhere within 30 minutes. When I first started working here in the CBD I didn’t like it so much, because I love driving and I had to take public transport instead. But now I love it. I love spending lunchtimes in the city. There’s so many good lunch spots and shopping opportunities, being so close to Rundle Mall. I totally enjoy working in the city now, and I’m really glad to call Adelaide home.
We get a lot of positive feedback from our customers, both about the service but also about the Tic:Toc experience. The happiest customers I get always seem to give me a nickname. After they’ve been approved, they’ll say something like “oh, thanks so much Brindabella!”, or “that’s fantastic Brindy!”. I always get a good laugh out of that.
It’s pretty common to hear people tell me that it was the easiest home loan application they’ve ever done. And when you’re applying completely online, I definitely think that’s true.
Yes, very excited to be a part of the Business Analyst team and to learn some new skills. I’ll be bringing over my learnings as a Credit Assessor to feed right back into how we develop our technology. At the same time, I’m already missing credit assessment, especially hitting that approval button. More than the process, I’ll miss the team with whom I’ve had lots of fun.
Interested in a career at Tic:Toc?