Typically the last Banker’s Trust column every year is a fun piece on New Year resolutions never made by bankers and finance professionals. This year is no exception—with malice towards none.

S.K. Jain, former chairman and managing director (CMD) of Syndicate Bank:

Now that my Syndicate Bank stint has been cut short, I would like to spend time creatively to set up an institute to teach the top management of public sector banks corporate governance. Reserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan has repeatedly been emphasizing on governance issues at state-run banks and I fully agree with him. I would like to approach Ramnath Pradeep, former CMD of Corporation Bank; N.S. Gujral, former CMD of Punjab and Sind Bank, and a few former senior executives of LIC Housing Finance Ltd to join me in this endeavour. I would request M. Gopalakrishnan, former CMD of Indian Bank, to be the chairman of the institute.

Nobody denies the fact that the public sector bank bosses are poorly paid even though many of them handle much bigger balance sheets than their private sector peers, but they must remember that there is an enormous amount of pride involved in running a public sector organization. We must approach our work from that spirit. Money is not important; what is important is building the nation.

The institute will also teach them on how to make the entire appointment process transparent and ethical. Nothing should be done behind the curtains. We can always have a price fixed for the CMD and ED (executive director) posts at different banks, depending on their size and location. Let the interested corporations pick up the tag but with an explicit understanding that they will not influence the credit decisions. Neither taking bribes nor paying is bad as long as such activities do not influence a banker’s credit decisions.

Deepak Narang, ED, United Bank of India:

Relatively smaller banks like ours do not need any CMD. We are aware of the fact that the Reserve Bank and the finance ministry are not happy with the appointment process of the public sector bank chiefs and there aren’t too many right candidates for such posts as the talent pool is very shallow. Given these constraints, the right approach will be not to have the CMD at every bank. After all, there is always the board to hand-hold the senior management. The EDs can run the show and my bank has proved this.

Usha Ananthasubramanian, CMD, Bharatiya Mahila Bank Ltd:

One year is too short a time to prove a bank’s worth. My bank is just about 13 months old and many analysts have written it off. This is painful. Mark my words—we will bounce back.

Who says there is no need to have a bank for women in India? If this assumption is true, how do the microfinance companies flourish? They are also giving loans only to women. We are drawing up plans to make the bank a great success. For instance, we will encourage all parents to save for their girl children. We will introduce 252-month recurring deposits, to be opened on the day a girl child is born. The money can be used for their education or marriage. We will give kitchen development loans. Millions of kitchens of India will turn modular and we will finance them. Similarly, we will securitize thousands of beauty parlours’ earnings across the nation. We will also finance entrepreneurs and encourage them to get into manufacturing of microwave ovens, mixer grinders and other kitchen appliances. Going beyond conventional products, we will also finance TV serials, provided such serials have only women actors and the mother-in-laws have a healthy relationship with their daughter-in-laws.

Vikram Akula, chairman, Vaya Finserv Pvt. Ltd:

Three years back they threw me out of SKS Microfinance Ltd, an organization which I had created and built with my blood and sweat; last year, they did not allow me to come back to the SKS board. This year, they could not do anything as my no-compete agreement with SKS got over last month. I am a free bird now and can do anything I wish in any field. I don’t consider the release of licensing norms for small finance banks and payments banks last month as coincidence; this is a happy omen—a divine intervention which inspires me to bite the bullet. Nobody can stop me from seeking a licence to set up a small bank. I will make it a success. As far as public issue is concerned, I will not wait for three years after reaching a 500 crore net worth; I will do it much earlier. Already, the private equity guys have started chasing me for a piece of the bank. I will have to give them an early exit route.

Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, CMD, Bandhan Financial Services Ltd and Rajiv Lall, chairman, IDFC Ltd:

Both of us are grateful to the Reserve Bank for reposing faith in us. We are confident that we will change India’s banking landscape. All we need from the regulator is a little help—it should not offer banking licence on tap. In fact, it should not offer any more banking licences. Given a choice, we would not like to see the birth of small finance banks and payments banks also. Why intensify competition? Let the licence remain very precious. We had to fight it out with 23 other applicants to get this and now that we have got it, no one else should get it. We two should be the last of universal banks set up in India. That’s the best recipe for our success.

Raghuram Rajan, governor, Reserve Bank of India:

In the New Year, let the finance ministry decide on interest rates. I will be happy to shift to BRICS Bank.

Tamal Bandyopadhyay, consulting editor of Mint, is adviser to Bandhan Financial Services Pvt. Ltd, India’s newest bank in the making. He is also the author of Sahara: The Untold Story and A Bank for the Buck. Email your comments to bankerstrust@livemint.com

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