FE Best Bank Award 2019: FM Nirmala Sitharaman honours achievers at glittering ceremony

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Published: October 4, 2019 4:43:35 AM

The Lifetime Achievement award for 2017-18 was won by Romesh Sobti, MD & CEO, IndusInd Bank.

FE Best Bank Award 2019, Nirmala Sitharaman, Romesh Sobti, IndusInd Bank, India Inc, Viveck Goenka, The Indian Express Group, WINNERS ALL: The FE Best Banks Awards 2017-18 winners gather for a photo-op. (Standing, from left) HSBC India CEO Surendra Rosha, Loan Frame founder & CEO Shailesh Jacob, Equitas Small Finance Bank MD & CEO PN Vasudevan, CreditAccess Grameen director finance & CFO Diwakar BR, CreditVidya co-founder & CEO Abhishek Agarwal, NPCI CTO N Rajendran, Axis Bank ED-wholesale banking Rajiv Anand, Axis Bank head- digital banking Sameer Shetty, Razorpay co-founder & CEO Harshil Mathur.
(Seated, from left) HDFC Bank ED Kaizad Bharucha, IndusInd Bank MD & CEO Romesh Sobti, Bajaj Finserv MD Sanjiv Bajaj, SBI CGM-Housing Shreekant, Kotak Mahindra Bank president-retail liabilities Virat Diwanji, Indian Bank MD & CEO Padmaja Chunduru and CreditAccess Grameen MD & CEO Udaya Hebbar

India’s most prestigious financial sector awards—FE Best Banks awards—were presented by Nirmala Sitharaman, Union finance minister in the country’s financial capital. At a glittering ceremony, India Inc celebrated the performance of the country’s top bankers and fintech professionals. The Lifetime Achievement award for 2017-18 was won by Romesh Sobti, MD & CEO, IndusInd Bank.

Banker of the Year winner Sanjiv Bajaj (L), MD, Bajaj Finserv, and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Romesh Sobti, MD & CEO, IndusInd Bank

The award recognised Sobti’s achievement in transforming a fledgling and fragile lender into a strong, solid, new generation, digitally-savvy bank with assets close to Rs 3 lakh crore. It also applauded the acquisition of Bharat Financial which will ensure IndusInd Bank has over 4,364 banking points and more than 22.2 million customers.

The Indian Express Group CMD Viveck Goenka (L) and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman share a light moment

In his address, Sobti said, the fact that India had seen a great governance reset in the last few years via, demonetisation, GST and RERA, IBC, was critical and would change the way banking is done. Sanjiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Finserv, who won the Banker of the Year award noted, that the promoter of an NBFC had won this award, reflecting the changing nature of banking. Bajaj Finance has grown sustainably over the years, and boasts a robust business model. It has found niches and reached out to new borrowers while effectively mining existing customers.

(L-R) Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, The Indian Express Group CMD Viveck Goenka, IndusInd Bank MD & CEO Romesh Sobti, Indian Express Group ED Anant Goenka and Edelweiss chairman & CEO Rashesh Shah look on as the winners’ names are announced

Viveck Goenka, chairman and managing director, The Indian Express Group, observed that he could not recall when a government had been as proactive in listening to industry, and trying to fix things. “We know we are going through tough times, but I share the FM’s view the second half of the year will be better than the first one. With the tax cuts, for the first time in India’s history, we have corporate tax rates that are on a par with those in competing countries,” Goenka said.

L-R) JSW Steel JMD & CFO Seshagiri Rao, HCC CMD Ajit Gulabchand, The Indian Express Group CMD Viveck Goenka and FE managing editor Sunil Jain

The winners were chosen by a high-powered jury chaired by S Ramadorai, former vice-chairman, TCS. It comprised R Shankar Raman, director & CFO, Larsen & Toubro; Leo Puri, former MD, UTI AMC; B Mahapatra, former ED, Reserve Bank of India and Sharad Sharma, co-founder, iSpirt, as members. The research and number work was done by the team from EY.

The Indian Express Group CMD Viveck Goenka with finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Indian Express Group executive director Anant Goenka

At a panel discussion on how India would fund the next round of investment, panelists observed that the government needed to provide stability and policy certainty as players navigate the reset, and infuse confidence. Moreover, they said that the government needed to be committed to improving the ecosystem for nurturing business; it was critical to have predictability and accountability of regulatory agencies overlooking the private sector, fairness and timeliness of execution in tax collection. India, they observed, is at the cusp of transformational change for the financial system, one in which, the banking system will be very different from the last 40 or 50 years. They pointed out the challenge would be to convert savings—almost 30% of GDP or around $900 billion—into long-term investments. The bond markets especially, the credit funds, can play a big role, along with the banking system, they felt.

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