Provident Financial Ltd. has been a leading player in the personal loan market in Hungary for more than two decades. The CEO of the company, Botond Szirmák, who has been at the helm of the company for 15 years now, tells Diplomacy&Trade about how important satisfied employees and customers for Provident are, their role in financial awareness training and the responsibility they feel towards the society they conduct their business in.
“We are primarily known for our smaller, short term, weekly and monthly repayment loans. Our success is summed up in our company’s mission: at Provident, we believe that everyone deserves a chance to achieve their goals, so, we also seek to bring regulated credit to those groups of society who, for whatever reason, cannot access traditional bank loans,” the CEO highlights.
Security and stability
Provident operates under the umbrella of the International Personal Finance group, a British-based international home credit and digital business. As to what this international background means for Provident and its clients, Botond Szirmák points out that “first and foremost stability for our clients.” He adds that the fact that the company has an international parent company with a history going back to the 1880s shows that it has a stable and strong background that has stood the test of time. “This can be very important both for us and for our clients because those who borrow are looking for security and stability, and they can find those with us.”
He emphasizes that the international background adds a lot to the company’s work as they are in constant contact with their colleagues abroad. “Our leaders meet regularly to discuss the challenges we face, work together, share best practices and develop together. The company's purpose statement of ‘Building a better world through financial inclusion’ is also a common denominator.”
Satisfied employees and customers
In recent years, Provident has won the ‘Excellence in Customer Service’ award a total of nine times and was named ‘Best Workplace in Hungary’ three times. The CEO attributes these awards to the fact that at Provident, they have always placed great emphasis on the well-being and recognition of their employees. “We have our own team of trainers who support our colleagues' work and development with an updated training portfolio every year. It is also important to us that our people have a good work-life balance, which is why we work in hybrid working arrangements in our head office, for example.”
He explains that their greatest reward is a satisfied customer. “To be satisfied, our customers need a high level of service, full information and an empathetic and helpful adviser to guide them through the loan process, so that they feel that they are important to the company from the application to the moment of repayment. We give our commercial advisors all the help they need to do this.”
Social responsibility at a strategic level
Since the company's inception, Provident employees have spent much of their time volunteering to help educational, health and social institutions across the country. Botond Szirmák underlines that “we currently have around 1,600 colleagues working in the field and they are an active part of the local community in which they operate. As such, they meet many people who need help, whether it's an elderly customer who can't get to the pharmacy to get their medication or a young single mother who is struggling to make ends meet. These genuine bottom-up volunteer initiatives, which we often take up at a regional level, are completely pervasive in the way our company operates.”
At the same time, Provident also addresses the issue of social responsibility at a strategic level. They feel that as a responsible company, it is important for them to give back to the society in which they operate. “That's why we have launched the ‘Invisibles program’ in all the countries where we are present, with the aim of highlighting the groups whose members are invisible for financial services. Among other things, we work with the Hungarian Interchurch Aid who understand where help is needed, and we support them with cash grants, donations and volunteers,” the CEO points out. The main focus of the assistance at the company is financial awareness training, which they try to introduce into the cooperation in a sustainable way. They also put a lot of emphasis on this towards other groups, as research shows that Hungarian society has a lot of catching up to do in this area. “We are in the best position to increase financial awareness through our personal presence with our clients,” he adds.
Another example is the story of the Ukrainian footballer Dmitry Nazarenko, or Dima, who fled from Mariupol to Hungary. Back home, he had a professional U19 contract and his dream was to become a professional footballer, but as a refugee, he didn't have many chances. “His case is a good example of our company's mission that everyone deserves help to achieve their goals: when we heard about his case, we took him on board, helped him find a team in Hungary and gave him a scholarship to focus on football, realizing his dream,” Botond Szirmák stresses.
It has been almost a decade since Provident was involved in the creation of the Figyelő Community Benefit award. As regards the purpose of this recognition and the criteria used to select award winners, the Provident CEO highlights that the aim was to encourage Hungarian businesses to provide innovative and sustainable responses to social and environmental challenges and to create products or services that are also best practice, particularly in the fields of infrastructure and business development, renewable energy, sustainable food, education, health and culture. The winners are selected each year by a Board of Trustees composed of prominent figures from the national economy and public life.
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