Narayanan Vaghul, former ICICI Bank chairman, will present India’s most prestigious financial sector awards – FE Best Banks awards – in the country’s financial capital on Thursday. It will be celebration time for bankers and financial services players like non-banking financial companies (NBFC) and fintechs.
Arundhati Bhattacharya, former chairman, State Bank of India, will carry home the Lifetime Achievement Award, while Romesh Sobti, CEO, IndusInd Bank, will walk away with the Banker of the Year award for 2016-17. The winners have been chosen by a high-powered jury chaired by S Ramadorai, former chairman Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), and his team comprising R Shankar Raman, director & CFO, Larsen & Toubro; Leo Puri, former managing director, UTI Asset Management; Biswamohan Mahapatra, former executive director, Reserve Bank of India; and Sharad Sharma, founder Ispirt. Helping with some detailed research and number work was the team from EY.
A jury’s task is never easy. Even in the midst of their troubles both banks and NBFCs have managed to grow their loan books, spot niches where they could move in and innovate to come up with dozens of new products, especially digital offerings. It is difficult, therefore, to assess which banks today are best cashing in on technological advancements to run their business. The results can’t always be measured easily and it is also true the impact of the new models are felt over time. It is also not easy to evaluate products. It might seem like there can’t be too much to a humble home loan or the simple savings accounts but lenders have redesigned these products in different ways to woo customers. Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB) has now won the award for the best savings product, two years in a row. Fintechs, too, have been doing some wonderful work using the internet and technology to make it easier to borrow, lend and learn. Insurance marketplace Policy Bazaar is a winner for the second straight year. CreditVidya, a B2B player, helps lenders and wallets assess risk. And investing in mutual funds has become less intimidating, thanks to Scripbox. Assessing the work of hundreds of fintechs to decide which has the best model can be a tough task. But some players stand out – Bajaj Finance, for instance, with its sterling performance stole the show in the NBFC space. The jury was also impressed with CanFin Homes’ steady growth.
The year 2016-17 was not an easy one for India’s banking sector; loan losses weighed on lenders revealing the true quality of their balance sheets. It was also a time when loan growth was sluggish with much of India Inc hugely over-leveraged and struggling to strengthen their balance sheets. But lenders stuck to their tasks and most were able to overcome the challenges. The FE Best Banks Awards applaud these players. —FE