ICICI’s Sandeep Bakshi: Business Standard’s ‘Banker of the Year’

Sandeep Bakshi took over the reins of ICICI Bank at a rough time. He steered the bank out of troubled water in the past four years, winning back trust. He’s Business Standard’s ‘Banker of the Year’


Sandeep Bakhshi | ICICI Bank  | Business Standard

Team TMS  | 
New Delhi 

ICICI Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Sandeep Bakhshi was chosen as the Business Standard Banker of the Year 2020-21 for turning around the private sector lender both in terms of performance and perception during his tenure of the past three and a half years.

A jury of five members chaired by former RBI Deputy Governor SS Mundra unanimously chose the 61-year-old as the winner.

Bakhshi took charge of India’s second-largest private sector lender in October 2018 amid controversy surrounding his predecessor Chanda Kochhar, who had to step down over corporate governance issues.

Only 10 banks qualified under the criteria used to select the contenders. The jury took into account matters such as governance, recent events, HR practices, the regulatory stance, innovative practices, and technology prowess to arrive at a conclusion.

When the choice finally came down to two large banks which had registered strong performance under both the leaders, what clinched the decision in favour of Bakhshi was turning around the bank after inheriting a difficult legacy.

“He inherited a difficult legacy but steadied the ship over the course of the last few years with a mature leadership as against the other contender who took over a stable organisation during the year. The bank showed an improving trend on most of the parameters over the past three years. This is against almost a status quo in the other case,” says jury chair SS Mundra.

Jury chair SS Mundra said Bakshi steadied the ship over the course of the last few years with a mature leadership while the bank improved on most of the parameters.

Bakhshi is credited with reviving the organisational morale also and bringing in collaborative management leadership, the jury members concurred.

The bank rewarded 80,000 frontline employees with an 8% pay hike during the Covid-19 pandemic year. One of the jury members highlighted that the turnaround under Bakhshi was not just in the banking business, but also in the subsidiaries.

The banker has been with ICICI Group since 1986 and handled assignments across the group in ICICI, ICICI Lombard General Insurance, ICICI Bank, and ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. He received a two-year extension last year, until October 2023.

The media-shy business leader, who prefers to keep a low profile, accepted Business Standard’s award but declined to comment further.

Its gross and net NPAs and bad loan ratios have consistently declined in the last four years while return on assets has almost doubled.

(VO 10 to go with graphic and chart above)

ICICI Bank is well capitalised, has strong ratios, adequate provisioning, and low bad loan ratios. For 2020-21, ICICI Bank reported a net profit of Rs 16,193 crore, against Rs 7,931 crore in the preceding financial year. Its loan portfolio grew 13.7% year-on-year to Rs 7.34 trillion, while deposits went up by 21% year-on-year to Rs 9.33 trillion. ICICI Bank shares are up 130% in Bakhshi’s tenure so far.

Under Bakhshi, the bank is guided by two principles. The ‘One Bank, One RoE’ principle emphasises the need to maximise the bank’s share of profitable growth opportunities across all products and services.

Whereas, The ‘Fair to Customer, Fair to Bank’ principle emphasises the need to deliver fair value to customers while creating value for shareholders

On the product side, feedback was given priority over targets, which meant that certain products were withdrawn because, while they were good for the bank, they not have been so for clients.

ICICI Bank increased its presence ra­pidly in the credit card segment too. Co-branding and new launches have boosted credit card sales. Its co-branded card with Amazon Pay has been a huge success in the market.

The bank believes leveraging digital technology is core to its business. Its iMobile Pay app is a testimony to the bank’s execution in this area. The app has seen 5.3 million activations from non-ICICI customers.

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