HDFC Bank announces key management portfolio rejig after merger; second under CEO Sashi Jagdishan

India’s top private lender HDFC Bank has announced a strategic re-organisation, rejigging the portfolios of its top management after the mega merger with its parent HDFC Limited was completed in July. This is the second such re-organisation under Sashidhar Jagdishan, who took over as the MD & CEO of the bank after Aditya Puri in October 2020.

Stating the rationale for the revised structure, Sashi Jagdishan, MD & CEO, HDFC Bank, said, “The runway for our growth is large. This change is being done to bring in a very sharp focus on leveraging what we have built and for enhanced execution. I am sure with focused efforts and the wholehearted resolve of the organisation, we will deliver. My best wishes to all of them in their new roles.”

The reorganisation was in the works since the merger was announced, according to people in the know, and was required to adequately split responsibilities for driving the bank’s growth as it became more than three times its size in terms of advances and net worth after the merger with HDFC Limited. “Some of the re-organisational changes are also to ensure that those who have been with us for a long time are given a recognition, and will have a supervisory role as their teams drive the growth of certain businesses,” said one of the people who did not wish to be quoted.

The biggest change, perhaps, comes in the form of the retail branch banking business being split into two, and a mortgages business getting a dedicated Group Head.

Key Changes

HDFC Bank, in a response to CNBC-TV18’s query on the rejig, said that Ashish Parthasarathy, who has led treasury for the bank since 2009, will now get the additional responsibility for the retail branch business, which handles deposits and product distribution. Under Parthasarathy, the retail branch business will be split into two geographical regions, and be headed by separate people.

“Smita Bhagat, Group Head and Sampath Kumar, Group Head will be the two new Retail Branch Banking Heads. They will continue to push the agenda of creating a great service culture and an obsession to delight our customers while delivering the business momentum that is needed. Smita Bhagat will lead branch banking for North, Central and East regions. Sampath Kumar will lead branch banking for West and South regions,” HDFC Bank said. Both Bhagat and Kumar will report into Parthasarathy.

The move is significant as HDFC Bank already has the largest branch network among India’s private banks, at over 8,000 post merger. Over the next 3-5 years, the bank aims to double its footprint by opening 1,500-2,000 branches every year, its CEO Sashidhar Jagdishan has stated.

The large mortgage book, which HDFC Bank acquired from its parent, will now be headed by Arvind Kapil, who previously headed Retail Assets of the bank. In his new avatar, Arvind Kapil will now spearhead the Mortgage business, including Home Loan, Loans Against Property, and HDFC Sales. After the merger, the share of mortgage in HDFC Bank’s loan book stood at a massive 35 percent.

Arvind Vohra, who previously headed retail branch banking, will now move as Group Head of Retail Assets (excluding Mortgages and SLI). Vohra helped spearhead “the biggest retail expansion over the last many years,” HDFC Bank said, and shall now focus on further increasing the retail assets penetration. Both Arvind Kapil and Arvind Vohra will continue to report to the MD & CEO Sashi Jagdishan.

Ashima Bhat, who was the Group Head – Business Finance and Strategy, CSR and ESG, Administration, and Infrastructure at HDFC Bank- will now move into her new role responsible for Tele Sales/ Relationship Channel. Her key task would be to create a Bank within a Bank, the lender said, and further enhance the bank’s ability to provide relationship management services to the increasing base of its customer franchise. She will continue to lead the Infrastructure function, and will be reporting into Ashish Parthasarathy.

‘Bank within a Bank’ would serve as a virtual relationship channel to service customers who do not necessarily need a physical touch point, explained a person in the know. This would help the bank to continue expanding its customer base significantly without necessarily expanding physically. While the bank would be expanding its branches simultaneously, this ‘bank within a bank’ would help drive growth and meet its stated objective of creating a “new HDFC Bank every four years,” explained this person who did not wish to be quoted.

As Parthasarathy expands his focus onto retail branch banking, the bank has named Arup Rakshit as Group Head for the Treasury function. He will continue to report into Ashish Parthasarathy.

In keeping with the bank’s stated focus of transforming itself digitally, it also announced that Ramesh Lakshminarayanan, CIO would lead the entire IT and Digital function of the Bank to unify all the technology and digital developments and to create a more holistic core and customer experience layer. The IT organisation of erstwhile HDFC Limited will be fully integrated with the overall IT & Digital structure. Lakshminarayanan will report into the MD & CEO in his new role.

Other Changes

Besides these, the bank also made other changes to the top management portfolios as it realigns itself to its new merged avatar.

Kaizad Bharucha, Deputy Managing Director, in addition to managing Wholesale Banking, will now also manage Inclusive Banking Initiatives Group, CSR, and ESG. Kaizad has also been designated director for asset liability management (ALM), Oversight & Monitoring Internal Ombudsman.

Parag Rao, Group Head, will now be additionally responsible for Marketing, Liability Product Group, Third Party Products, Non Resident Products in addition to Payments (Cards, Merchant Services), and Consumer Finance.

Payzapp, Vyaapar, Smartbuy and other consumer facing digital products would be run as Direct to Consumer Digital Businesses with their own separate P&L and would be headed by Ravi Santhanam. Ravi will continue to spearhead the digital sales of retail products as the Chief Marketing Officer He will report to Parag.

Anjani Rathor, Group Head would now lead the Digital Customer Experience as Chief Digital Experience Officer of the Bank. Anjani will focus on customer’s collective experience of interacting with various touchpoints of the Bank including all online banking systems, virtual channels, branches, and alternate banking outlets. He will set up a unified Data competency for the Bank for improving customer engagement and cross sell. He will continue to report to Parag.

Rakesh Singh, Group Head would spearhead the creation of Banking as a Service (BaaS) concept. “The BaaS channel is expected to become as big as the traditional channels in the years to come,” HDFC Bank said. Singh will also be responsible for Offshore International Banking, in addition to Investment Banking, Private Banking, and Thematic Research, and will continue to report into the MD & CEO.

Sumant Rampal will now be responsible for Sustainable Livelihood Initiative (SLI) business in addition to Business Banking Working Capital, and Rural Banking Group, and will continue to report into Rahul Shyam Shukla.

Additionally Rakesh Kumar Rajput takes over as the Chief Compliance Officer of the Bank with effect from October 1, 2023 in place of Arun Mohanty, who retired on September 30, 2023.

The rest of the function heads and business heads continue in their respective roles, HDFC Bank said.

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