Come 2010, there will be an acute shortage of managers in the public sector banks as a majority of the existing managers, hired in the 1970s, will retire.
In addition, aggressive poaching by the private sector banks are queering the pitch for the state-run banks. When it comes to effective human resource practices, Indian banks are lagging behind the global standards, concluded a panel of top bankers at a panel discussion involving chief executive officers of banks, both public and private, in Mumbai on Tuesday.
“Indian banks are best managed by neglect,” said Anil Khandelwal, chairman and managing director of Bank of Baroda, the organizer of the banking conference, which featured the panel discussion.
“The top-level management is due to retire and the public sector unit (PSU) banks are losing the middle-level management, too, because the people are poached by the attackers.” By attackers, Khandelwal was referring to the private banks.
“Even if we train our people, after sometime, we realize that we are training people for Yes Bank Ltd, HDFC Bank Ltd or Standard Chartered Plc. Never before (have) we faced such an issue. This needs serious attention,” he added.
The panellists agreed that salary in public sector banks is a major hindrance in retaining employees. “We are under the impression that PSU banks can’t pay like private and foreign banks,” said M.B.N. Rao, chairman and managing director of Canara Bank. “We need to overcome this impression that there is a monetary ceiling. There should not be any. There should be a change in the policy both at the bank level and at the top decision-making level.” Rao also heads the Indian Banks’ Association, the country’s representative bankers body.
M.V. NairChairman, Union Bank of India
“It’s time for PSU banks to become attackers now,” said M.V. Nair, chief of Union Bank of India. “If I need more talent in treasury, I need to pay more. It’s as simple as that.”
Nair also said all public sector banks need not follow the same salary structure. “Why should all banks pay similar salary? Public sector banks should reposition themselves. It is not only today’s banking. We have to look into the future,” he added.
Nair got ample support from Khandelwal of Bank of Baroda who called for dismantling the existing structure of public sector banks. “The most challenging problem facing the Indian scenario is the everlasting problem of quality versus quantity,” he said. “We need to restructure the job functions.”
M.B.N. RaoChairman, Canara Bank
Shailendra Bhandari, CEO of Centurion Bank of Punjab Ltd, said private banks, too, are faced with an acute talent crunch. “There is a shortage in the pipeline,” he said. “If this crunch continues, there will be a shortage of manpower and we will end up paying huge amount of salary to get and retain talent.”
Rana Kapoor, chief executive of Yes Bank, agreed. “The human resources approach should be such that people realize that it’s not only attractive to work for a private bank, but it is equally sexy to work for a public sector bank,” he said. However, there were panelists who felt that salary is not the only issue that led the public sector employees to switch loyalty. For instance, T.S. Bhattacharya, managing director, State Bank of India, said: “We in public sector banks have got offers from private banks at different points in our career. But many of us did not leave. Of course, salary is an important issue, but I think the problem lies in the promotion policy, too.”
Neeraj Swaroop, chief executive, Standard Chartered, lent a different dimension to the discussion. Indian banks often underestimate the importance of diversity, he said, adding if an Indian bank wants to go global, it is necessary to employ foreigners in management positions, too.