Keen to leave SBI in a stronger position before I retire: Arundhati Bhattacharya

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New Delhi | Published: December 17, 2015 9:46:59 PM

The chairperson of the State Bank of India, Arundhati Bhattacharya, has said that while it is a huge honour for her as a woman to head a public sector financial institution...

The chairperson of the State Bank of India, Arundhati Bhattacharya, has said that while it is a huge honour for her as a woman to head a public sector financial institution, her dream and hope is to leave the institution in a much more healthy position than what it was when she took charge of her post.

In an interview given to ETV, Bhattacharya said being the chairperson of the SBI was a big responsibility.

“You know those who had gone ahead of me, their vision was very good. So, I have to ensure that when I have to leave the bank, leave it stronger. A lot of people have asked me what is your legacy? My reply to them was ‘legacy is not the issue, but the thing is, we have to leave the bank in a stronger and better position than we got it as. So, I am trying to fulfill this vision only. If we don’t start preparation for next five years, we will find that after five years we are backward. You have to think of the big picture and start taking steps today,” Bhattacharya said.

Asked why she saw all postings that she had received during her 38-year-long service as new career, Bhattacharya she her professional mantra and philosophy has always been to see her stint in the SBI not as a single job, but as a plethora of opportunities.

“According to me, the number of jobs that I have done is 12 to 14. The environment was different in different places. The people were different, and moreover, the work was different. The process, the products and the employees we engage with are totally different. The bank sent me to Lucknow, Bangalore, Mumbai and other places. The culture, language, food -all are different in different places. To put yourself in that structure, we have to approach it with open mind. Not only this, if you take life as if you are learning, as if you are a student, then there is never any boredom. You are coming across new things. I have always found it to be a challenge and everybody loves a challenge. So, if you are given the right challenge, and if you are actually able to meet the challenge, it makes the life interesting,” she said.

When asked whether a day would come when banking would be done through e-commerce, Bhattacharya told ETV, “At one point of time, everything will be on mobile. Since, it is a money matter, there is some need of brick and mortar. When, it comes to the matter of money, people want to see that there should be some physical presence or evidence. Not, every one. The present generation is comfortable with the digital world, but our generation feels the need for physical presence for security. What I see coming in 15 years, is there will still be a need for some physical presence of banks.”

When asked how she saw SBI as a global financial institution after 15 years, Bhattacharya said, “The top four big banks are from China. They are the largest due to the economy of China. So, if our bank has to be the largest, then, our economy should also grow up. I can’t grow on my own; I am part of the economy. If our economy will grow, then, our bank will also be one of the largest ten banks. But the growth of economy is required.”

Bhattacharya also said that it was important to be aware that India is young in terms of the people it has in the 21st century. She said that with 65 percent of the population in the age group of 25 to 40, there was a need for banks to project and market themselves as institutions catering to the young.

She said, “When the country is youthful and we won’t make our bank youthful, then why will the youth of this country come to our banks? The young adult feels that they don’t want to do what their previous generation was doing. Which is now called ‘uncool’, ‘Not Cool’. If one’s parents have an account in SBI, then the young one shouldn’t move to another bank. We want to say that SBI is not only your parents’ bank, but also your bank. Sixty five per cent of the people of our nation are of the younger age group. If we can’t cater to this 65 percent of people, then what is the use of the bank?

“So, we really believe that we want to serve these youngsters. We’re trying to ensure that all of our products are available through the internet. For instance, the RBI guidelines say that prior to approving any loan, the bank should meet the applicant and hard signatures should be taken. So for that, we have ensured that one is not required to come to bank. We tell you put one date and time and our person will go and complete the formalities at your home. We know, the present generation feels more comfortable working on screen. We’re hoping to come out with a good range of products. Many of them are already on. More are on the way. We’re trying to make our systems more robust, as we have almost 10,000 transactions per second and two crore transactions per day,” she added.

“Our system is one of the largest Oracle data bases in the world. With 500 million accounts, we are huge in terms of data base, and therefore, we need to ramp up the robustness of our system. We are trying our level best to give the best services to the customers,” Bhattacharya said.

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