Stars to come out at Mint BFSI Summit and Awards today

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das will deliver the opening keynote address at the Mint BFSI Summit and Awards on Thursday. (Bloomberg)
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das will deliver the opening keynote address at the Mint BFSI Summit and Awards on Thursday. (Bloomberg)

Summary

  • In a first for Mint in the 16th year of the event, the programme will bring into its fold all major arms of the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry.

MUMBAI : Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das will deliver the opening keynote address at the Mint BFSI Summit and Awards on Thursday, flagging off a full day of intense deliberations, debates and conversations around the theme of financial wellness in a changing world.

Joining the central bank governor will be Debasish Panda, the chairperson of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai); Kamlesh Varshney, whole-time member at capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi); and veteran banker K.V. Kamath, who is currently the chairman of National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID).

They will be joined by more than two dozen top bankers, insurers, mutual fund honchos, fintech wizards and tech leaders, as the programme cuts through the clutter of issues facing the industry and attempts to find solutions.

In a first for Mint in the 16th year of the event, the programme will bring into its fold all major arms of the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry. In the previous 15 years, it had looked sharply at issues faced by banks.

Another first in this edition is the introduction of the Mint BFSI Awards to recognize and reward the top performers in the industry across banking, life and general insurance, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and mutual funds, both equity and fixed income. The study was done in collaboration with Mint’s knowledge partners howindialives.com and Fisdom.

The transformation of the successful 15-year Mint Annual Banking Conclave into a BFSI industry conclave is backed by the increasing interlinking of businesses in the industry. Most large organizations that run banks also have insurance arms—sometimes both life and general. They also have mutual funds. And they also sometimes have their own fintech arms or are partnering with them.

Several NBFCs that are in the business of lending are bigger than banks and are run by large, respected business houses. They are no less critical to the lending ecosystem. In fact, the RBI governor had recently noted that much of NBFC funds are coming from banks and that share is rising. Is that a concern? Or is it just a reflection of the fact that different arms of the BFSI industry are perhaps working more in tune with one another than ever before.

For India to attain its goal of a $5-trillion economy, this synergy needs to strengthen further. How that can be done, and how the industry can strengthen its own roots as well as that of the economy, is at the centre of the Mint BFSI Summit on Thursday.

As banks grapple with corporate defaults, non-performing assets, and wrestle to recover bad loans through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, they have also shown remarkable growth in profits in the past few quarters, resulting from a variety of factors including the rise in interest rates that have fed into their net interest income. Just how long can this last? Both issues will be taken up by domain experts on Thursday for a detailed deliberation.

As fintech firms struggle to find venture capital (VC) money, initial public offerings seem to have taken centrestage. There’s a list of fintechs that have announced their plans for going public in the next 12-18 months. Having said that, the India public market values profitability more than anything else. How fintechs see public listing—as an alternative to VC funding or beyond that—will be a focal point of discussion during the day.

Tech and, especially artificial intelligence, is at the heart of all transformation in the BFSI industry. A panel of tech heads of banks will deliberate on how the arrival of generative AI has created a new set of opportunities for them in India. Apart from the obvious consumer use case, AI can also help banks improve fraud detection and reduce financial crime risk, help in providing real-time credit risk analysis, and optimize business processes to save time and resources, cut costs and increase operational efficiencies.

Meanwhile, mutual fund distributor numbers have been stagnating at around 100,000 as commissions have been rationalized. Alongside, the number of registered investment advisors has stagnated and platforms are incentivized to push broking (F&O) over mutual funds. What’s the solution?

The insurance industry, meanwhile, has been slow on the digital bandwagon, and with new-age fintechs breathing down their necks, digitalisation should be a priority for them. And it’s not only about introducing chatbots and AI-enabled tools, but also using digital technologies for risk assessment, underwriting, addressing customer complaints and potential claim situations, and more. Insurance is still in low-single digit as a share of gross domestic product, and technology must be leveraged much more than present for this share to grow sustainably.

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