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