Bank of Baroda (BoB) is 100 years old but it is behaving like a teenager, complete with an obsession with bean bags and MTV.
The bank is redoing some of its branches with colourful bean bags instead of dull furniture, and plasma screens that will have MTV on. Behind this seeming madness is business logic: a desire to attract young people. “We already have the grandfathers and fathers as customers, now we are targeting the sons and daughters,” says Anil Khandelwal, BoB chairman and managing director. Titled Gen-Next branches, they will even have career counsellors advising fresh graduates and IT professionals on overseas career prospects. BoB has already opened its first such branch in Pune and will open five more across the country before the end of the year. The bank has 2,700 branches across the country.
As a part of its centenary year celebrations, the bank announced a series of initiatives to keep pace with the competition in India’s highly competitive retail banking landscape. “As a public sector bank, we come with a certain legacy. In order to keep pace with changing times, we are doing our best to attract the young generation,” Khandelwal said.
The bank has drawn up a strategic plan titled “Vision 2010” and engaged consulting firm McKinsey & Co. to implement this. The bank has identified four critical business areas such as retail, small and medium enterprises, wholesale and rural business for growth.
In order to achieve the status of a one-stop shop for the financial needs of a customer, BoB is also exploring new business ventures such as wealth management services, life insurance and general insurance. It is also undertaking a series of human resources-related activities to train its employees in these new areas.
BoB is also rolling out 15 SME (small and medium enterprise) “loan factories” to give increased emphasis to its customers among small and medium entrepreneurs. These “factories” are branches that simplify the process of sanctioning loans by the use of technology. “They will help us get closer to our customers and help us to disburse loans faster.” Khandelwal said.
The public sector bank has plans for overseas expansion. It is set to open 10 international offices in its centenary year in the UK, China, Malaysia, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Bostwana. It also plans to enter new geographies such as Australia, Bahrain, Canada and New Zealand.