Public sector banks have opened more number of branches across the country over the past few years but it is the private sector where most of the hirings have happened, according to latest data released by the Reserve Bank of India. According to the data released last week, one in every four bank employees works with a private bank today — a sharp rise from one in 10 in 2005.
Significantly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday promised greater autonomy to public sector banks, and emphasised the need for them to be run professionally. The Finance Ministry today issued directions asking PSBs to act without “fear or favour” and to ignore “extraneous considerations” in their commercial decisions.
Although public sector banks still lead with a combined employee strength of 8.3 lakh out of the total 11.51 lakh bank employees across the country, the interesting part is the number of hirings since March 2005. Between 2004-05 and 2013-14, the number of employees in private banks — both domestic and foreign — went up three times from 1.09 lakh to 3.2 lakh while public sector banks added a comparatively low 81,445 employees.
Of the total 292,639 hirings by all scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) over the nine-year period, more than 72 per cent or 211,194 employees were recruited by the private sector, mostly by Indian private banks. Foreign banks had only 24,834 employees as on March 31, 2014.
As a result of the hirings, the share of Indian private bank employees in the industry has gone up from 10.76 per cent in March 2005 to 25.7 per cent at the end of March 2014, with the addition of 203,696 employees during this period.
Top officials with private banks said the rise in the number of hirings was a result of both increase in the number of branches and reduction in the outsourced sales staff. “All private banks had strong outsourced sales staff but now most of us are getting our dedicated sales force to go out to sell,” said the HR head of a private sector bank. He said the outsourced sales staff, that accounted for two-thirds of the sales team earlier, has now come down to a quarter.
On the other hand, with the posts of four chairmen and 14 executive directors currently lying vacant in PSBs, hirings at government-owned banks has been dismal across all levels. While the government has announced its decision to split the post of chairman and MD at PSBs, there have been talks to consider individuals from the private sector for the top job at PSBs.
The All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) said there is a huge shortage of employees in the sector. “Looking at the present need, there are around two lakh vacancies now and another three lakh vacancies will come up over the next three or four years on account of retirements,” said C H Venkatachalam, general secretary, AIBEA. He said while over 25,000 branches were added in the past seven years, only 20,000 employees were recruited.
A source in the banking sector, however, said the PSBs consciously went slow on hirings as they were looking to rationalise their staff strength.
As far as opening new branches is concerned, the private banks have a lot of catching up to do. Between March 2009 and March 2013, as many as 24,552 new offices were opened by all scheduled commercial banks, of which only 6,713 or 27 per cent were opened by private banks. SBI and its associates opened 4,363 offices and the nationalised banks opened 13,437 offices or 54 per cent in that period.