Best of India's bankers, at FE Best Banks today PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 09 December 2017 00:00
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From traditional bankers to NBFC pioneers, fintech players, apps and even banking products, we have them all


With a deposit base of just over Rs 100 lakh crore and advances of close to Rs 80 lakh crore, India’s banking system remains small in the global context. Indeed, it could be several years before any of the country’s lenders makes it to the top 25 globally. Moreover, about a fourth of the country’s population remains under-banked or unbanked, the 200 million Jan-Dhan accounts notwithstanding. What is remarkable, though, are the numerous success stories the space has spawned over the last decade as the government opened up the sector to greater private sector participation. Take Uday Kotak, the winner of FE Best Banks’ Lifetime Achievement Award. The bank promoted by him—Kotak Mahindra Bank—has grown steadily to become one of the country’s most well-run enterprises; with an enviable market capitalisation of close to Rs 2 lakh crore, it is also among the most expensive today. Kotak’s story has been one of patience, perseverance and preservation of capital. With a solid foundation and armed with a sound technology platform, the banks is now well-poised to exploit the opportunity in the industry as consumers go increasingly digital.
Kotak Mahindra may be a new-age bank but there are traditional businesses that have survived over the years and are flourishing. Our winner in the Special Initiatives category is R Thyagarajan, the founder of the Shriram Group, who pioneered the financing of second-hand trucks in India.

Even today, Shriram Transport Finance is a market leader in the space. To be sure, private sector bankers and financiers have always had an edge over their public sector peers in that the government was not their master. But, there have been star performers in the public sector banking space too. Despite a stressful couple of years when RBI initiated a clean-up of banks’ books, Arundhati Bhattacharya didn’t lose sight of the bigger goals, successfully putting SBI on a new trajectory where digital initiative was concerned. Commending her ability to withstand pressure and to always do the right thing, no matter the consequences, the FE Best Banks Jury—headed by S Ramadorai and comprising R Shankar Raman, Leo Puri, B Mahapatra and Sharad Sharma—declared Bhattacharya Banker of the Year for 2015-16.


With fintech making waves and changing the way in which money is transferred or loans are given, Financial Express believed it was important to appreciate their contribution to the world of finance. Three start-ups—Finomena, JusPay and Policy Bazaar—were picked by the jury for their ability to innovate and deliver meaningful value to the consumer. The importance of digital offerings cannot be overstated in today’s world and banks that are likely to succeed are those that are able to attract consumers with a user-friendly product. ICICI Bank’s Pockets walked away with the App of the Year award while Kotak Mahindra Bank’s retail savings product was adjudged the best in its category. While new-age products and players may be in vogue, it is important to applaud those that work for the under-privileged and lend to those that have virtually no access to formal finance. The Non Bank Financial Companies (NBFC) sector has played a big role in reaching out to segments of the population that were unbanked; Ujjivan Financial Services’ efforts at microfinance were specially appreciated by the jury.


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