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Retired bankers in demand as India Inc looks for licence

By Samie Modak & Manojit Saha
April 09, 2013 09:48 IST
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Life after retirement for many former bankers will continue to be quite busy, courtesy the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) -initiated process for new banking licences after a decade. Banking aspirants are busy enlisting the services of former bankers who can share their vast experience and domain knowledge.

So, if former Corporation Bank chairman and managing director V K Chopra has been roped in by the India Infoline group, former Bank of Baroda chairman M D Mallya’s experience would come in handy for the Tata Group if it is lucky enough to get the coveted licence.

Similarly, A C Mahajan, former chairman of Canara Bank, has been recruited by Religare as an independent director. Religare is a strong aspirant for the banking business. And, the advice of former SBI chairman A K Purwar, who is already heading Piramal Capital, could prove useful for the Piramal group’s banking ambitions.

It’s not only commercial bankers who are sought. Former central bankers are also in high demand - former central banker A K Khound, who retired from RBI as chief general manager of the banking operations and development department, which drafted the licensing norms, will share his knowledge with Aditya Birla Financial Services.

Even consultants advising corporate houses on banking licences are  aggressive in getting former bankers into their folds. KPMG, for example, has roped in former RBI chief general manager Vinay Baijal as senior advisor.

Shinjini Kumar, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, believes banking is different from other sectors, as credibility with the regulator is important, apart from attributes such as experience and relationships.

“Given the strict ‘fit and proper’ expectations, identifying the right person is also about strategic positioning. The wider context is that, in India, banks not only need to look at regulatory expertise as a matter of zero-tolerance compliance (which is common to many jurisdictions), but also as a necessary prerequisite for making the right strategic choices in an environment of constraining regulations and changing macroeconomic scenario,” Kumar said. She was with RBI until a few years back.

Some experts, however, say this excitement to rope in as many former bankers as possible might be short-lived; it might ebb with the growing realisation that the central bank is likely to allow only a few new entities. New licences are expected to come by March-April next year.

Experience counts:

Former bank/RBI officials roped in by various organisations

V K Chopra (CMD, Corporation Bank)
India Infoline group

A K Purwar (chairman, State Bank of India)
Piramal group

A C Mahajan (CMD, Canara Bank)

A K Khound (CGM, Reserve Bank of India)
AdiTYa Birla Fin Serv

M D Mallya (CMD, Bank of Baroda)
Tata group

Vinay Baijal (CGM, Reserve Bank of India)

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Samie Modak & Manojit Saha in Mumbai
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