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India’s largest bank hopes to capitalise on the ever-growing presence of the Indian migrant community
On a recent visit to Australia, State Bank of India’s Managing Director for Corporate Banking B. Sriram said he was excited about the future potential for the bank in Australia.
“There are a lot of opportunities here for us; new avenues such as in agriculture and trade need to be examined,” he told Indian Link.
“If I should revisit in 2022, five years from now, it will be good to see a larger connect with the local society, a much more vibrant local branch, and to have a $2 billion business in this country.”
The local office of the State Bank of India (SBI) under its CEO Pranay Kumar had organised an informal round table dinner with Mr Sriram and Chief General Manager for International Banking, Sujit Kumar Varma. In attendance were members of the Australia India Business council, local business and community leaders.
The round table discussion led by AIBC National Chair Sheba Nandkeolyar discussed options and opportunities for State Bank of India in Australia in the future.
“We had some interesting inputs from the community group today,” Mr Sriram told the dinner guests. “This is what we often do in our different overseas offices – we like to interact with the local community members and seek their advice as how we can make State Bank more relevant to them and their country. After all, SBI is India’s largest bank. We have over 400 million customers, and we do millions of transactions per day. In fact, in the last second alone, over 4,600 transactions were done. Our office in Australia however needs to do better though we do recognise that the Big 4 banks are very strong and we are competing with them.”
Mr Varma was also keen to drive home this point as international operations contribute 15% to the balance sheet of the bank. “There is a strong desire to do more in Australia and also in our other international operations,” he said.
Local CEO Pranay Kumar also feels that more can be done; the plans are by end of 2017 to have a presence in Melbourne, to capitalise on the ever-growing presence of the Indian migrant community.
However the SBI team also acknowledged that it is important to further align the bank into the local culture.
Sharing his views, well known business leader Neville Roach felt that companies such as Fujitsu, IBM and TCS have worked hard to be more than just American, Japanese or Indian companies. “They are well respected for their expertise rather than their national background,” he said. “This they have done by being more involved in the local community and partake in socially responsible projects in the local community. State Bank needs to be involved in more corporate responsibility projects over time.”
Mr Sriram is keen to build the local business in corporate area. “There are a lot of opportunities in the space we have, these have not been fully exploited and first we would like to develop these options before embarking on any retail banking,” he told Indian Link.
Talking about the state of the global economy, especially US and Europe, he said, “India is growing at the rate of 7%; next year it might well be 7.5%. The hope is that India can lead the world in growth. We are looking at a good year ahead. Any changes to the US interest rates have been factored in our growth estimates. The introduction of the GST will also be good as it unifies the structure, and allows ease of business to increase.”
Talking about the recent merger of the State Bank of India with its 5 associates and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank, he was keen to note that these mergers have pushed it into the top 50 of the world global banking rankings. “The mergers have created great opportunities and cost savings for us. Systems are all integrated and this is yet another exciting new chapter in the growth of SBI.”
When probed as to what makes a happy customer, Mr Sriram smiled and said that a happy customer is one who comes back with a smile on his or her face for new products. “Irrespective of the price, the satisfied customer continues to deal with the bank due to their trust and respect and the relationship forged with the bank. There are three stakeholders in the banking relationship – the owners or the shareholders, the customers and the employees. All of them have one interest that the institution continues to deliver. As much as the employees will like to make the customer satisfied, they also need to make sure the bank is safe and sound for the customer to be happy. For the shareholder, if the customer is happy, the value of the bank increase.”
On being asked about the controversial Adani Carmichael Coal Mine and their financing needs and whether the State Bank is thinking about financing the project, Mr Sriram replied, “We do not comment on individual companies, we refrain from talking about them.”
Mr Sriram, Managing Director, SBI (right) with Australia SBI CEO Pranay Kumar.