Inside a banker’s hymnal

As regular contributors to columns in this paper will normally do by way of writing down their thoughts for the next article, I was in that state of mind after submitting my article for the previous week. Then through sober reflection and looking around at the banking sector and elsewhere, the old Christian hymn ‘Rescue the Perishing’ written by Fanny Crosby began to resonate with my soul.

By the living facts, Fanny Crosby was inspired to write ‘Rescue the Perishing’ in 1869 after she met some men who were housed in a New York City mission. She was concerned about their spiritual well-being, and after ardent prayer with them a young man came to her and accepted God’s justifying grace. Saved!

     Rescue the perishing

  1. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
    Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
    Weep over the erring one, lift up the fallen,
    Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.

Refrain:
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.

  1. Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
    Waiting the penitent child to receive;
    Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
    He will forgive if they only believe.
  2. Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
    Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
    Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
    Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
  3. Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
    Strength for your labour the Lord will provide;
    Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
    Tell the poor wanderer a Savior has died.

 

In my heart, I feel this solemn hymn has its own metaphorical undertones, with some lines in the hymn conveying the mood or sentiments of keen observers watching the managers and the current business environment of specialised deposit-taking institutions – Savings and Loans Companies, Finance Houses and the Rural and Community Banks (RCBs). Indeed, public attention is now on this segment of the banking sector with regard to the final round of the regulatory clean-up exercise.

Time-beat

We appreciate the fact that calm has largely been restored to the banking sector since the clean-up exercise swept away nine (9) banks and three hundred and forty-seven (347) microfinance companies. While we weep for those caught by regulation and who fell into an abyss in terms of their operating licences, it is about time we lifted up the formerly stable ones which have begun to drift gradually to insolvency – largely due to the panic-withdrawals emanating from malicious messages on social media. This has also been heightened by the resource-constrained delay in cleaning up the already insolvent ones among them at the same time. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying!

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I had a conversation with some friends working in some of the companies, and it became clear that they are in a hopeless situation. Liquidity challenges! Bankers’ headache! Despite that the regulator (Bank of Ghana) has said on many occasions no depositor has lost their savings since beginning of the reforms, or will lose such genuine investments going forward, many depositors however continue to withdraw their funds beyond the normal from the financial institutions in that segment. The situation is also being fuelled by fear of the unknown literarily forcing customers to take their money back. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying!

As it is now, they need liquidity support of some sort to keep them afloat. Again, as echoed by one of the striking lines in the hymn, the companies need the touch of loving hearts and to be re-awakened by our ‘kindness’ in the form of regular deposits, scheduled loan repayments, and other legitimate financial interventions to improve their liquidity positions.

In the same vein, we strongly urge government to stand by its resolve to mobilise the GH¢7billion needed to support the central bank in cleaning up that segment by September 2019. At least, the Finance Minister, Mr. Ofori-Atta, has given the clearest indication to that effect in a news broadcast by the Multimedia Group (Joy FM) on June 19, 2019. We hope it comes to pass. This will not only help to fully restore the trust and confidence necessary for their active operations, but also enable the “chords that were broken to vibrate once more” in the entire banking sector.

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“Rescue the perishing, duty demands it.” – Fanny Crosby, Oh!

Elsewhere!

What’s more, the hymn ‘Rescue the perishing has also identified itself with victims of the recent investment scam in a house of God. In respect of investment scams from the pulpit, a few lines in my article titled ‘Quell’ – which was published in this column on April 30, 2018, will continue to cause many people to question in the cold light of day why some supposed ‘men of God’ should use the pulpit to dupe the public.

In the ‘Quell’ article, I stated that: “Imposters use [the] fake licences to milk the vulnerable depositors on Mondays, tear up their Tuesdays, make them feel weary after their toil on Wednesdays, toss them on Thursdays, freeze their sales proceeds on Fridays, and starve them of income for Saturdays. Sundays when we should expect them to allow these victims to seek solace from the Lord, they end up syphoning them dry of their last earnings”.

It is not bad to use the pulpit for imparting financial literacy and to give worshippers investment tips aimed at helping them to improve their economic well-being. But it is worrying and of public concern when some “touch not my anointed” men of God’s hidden motive is to use the pulpit for commercial gain, contrary to biblical teachings: Matthew 21:12-13 – “Then Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those selling doves. And He declared to them, “it is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer’. But you are making it a den of robbers”. Oh! My God, we sing to your glory. “Rescue the perishing.”

This script was written by a Chartered Banker with a flair for feature writing. Apart from his work schedules, he edits or proof-reads corporate material for his colleagues, executive managers – including distinguished professionals working in various fields outside Banking. Through this column, his articles feature on third-party online media platforms in Ghana and outside. Email: Kwaku.Anumu@gmail.com  

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