In our latest customer spotlight, we had the opportunity to speak with Faizan Ahmad, Deputy Manager of Centralized Credit Services at HAB Bank. Faizan is the head underwriter at HAB Bank and in charge of a small team of three to make sure the bank delivers on time, with quality loans. Let’s hear a little bit of his story:
Can you tell me a little bit about HAB Bank?
We’re a small commercial bank based out of New York City. The NY office is our headquarters and we have seven other locations: three additional branches in the boroughs of NY, one in New Jersey and two in California. We focus on commercial lending ranging from CRE, C&I and small business to strict finance and healthcare. I’m Deputy Manager here and my responsibility as the head credit analyst and underwriter is to help our underwriting team effectively view each of our customers’ cases and carefully calculate potential risks. I’m essentially the middle man on the underwriting team reporting to the managing team, chief credit officer, and of course the board.
How’d you get started in the banking business?
In 2008, I was in my senior year of college in an internship at PNC bank and they hired me as an advisor. After about a year, I moved on to JP Morgan as a financial consultant and was more involved with the front-end side of the banking business. I made a decision to shift roles to a more analytical position and I interviewed at HAB Bank for a junior underwriter position almost five years ago — now I’m leading the charge.
That’s impressive. What would you say are the greatest challenges you face day to day as Deputy Manager?
My biggest challenge, though it may sound trite, is truly time management. Our underwriting department is consistently crunched for time because of the nature of our jobs. The front-office has pressure from the borrower, so we need to not only be quick but extremely accurate. It’s always a challenge to ensure that we are doing our due diligence to make sure each report is completed properly, ethically, and approached from all angles. For our department time management is vital because we need to make sure it’s divided in the best manner to complete each case as quickly as possible while maintaining quality.
What do you think are the most difficult challenges facing banks today when it comes to commercial and residential appraisal management?
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the market has come a long way and is seemingly back to normal. Because of this, we find that our most difficult challenges arise from fierce competition. We are a small bank and in New York alone there are over 10,000 banks we are competing with. Banks today have to make sure we are providing a competitive rate while keeping in mind what’s best for the bank, our clients and borrowers. We can’t offer something we can’t deliver on.
It’s an ongoing balance between staying competitive in our financial landscape and staying true to the values of our bank.
When did HAB Bank decide it was time to evaluate different appraisal management companies and how did they choose MountainSeed?
We were seeing a lot of growth and knew it was time to involve a third party vendor. We’ve been working with MountainSeed now for roughly two years, and our favorite part of partnering with this team is by far the service. The turnaround times are great and if there ever is a delay, they are prompt to keep you informed throughout the process.
With HAB Bank each file is on a different step everyday, so I’m really happy that I never get stuck on the @Mountainseed step.
What’s HAB Bank’s role in the community?
Once a year my department works with local schools to lecture high school or middle school students on the principles of banking and how to manage a bank account. It’s essentially the basics of how to write a check and when to use a credit card — things that you need to know as a teen. Many of these kids aren’t getting this type of information or advisement anywhere else, so it’s really an honor to get to be a part of teaching them the mechanics of banking.
What’s coming down the pipe for HAB Bank this year?
We’ve excitedly seen significant year over year growth since 2016. This year, we are striving to surpass the previous year’s performance and anticipate doing so again. It’s an exciting time for HAB and I’m really proud to be a part of this growing team.
Are there any other fun facts we should know about you?
I enjoy abstract painting, drawing, or sketching in my free time — I try to paint as much as I can.