Mangalore Devdas Mallya, the chairman & managing director of Bank of Baroda, is the Business Standard Banker of the Year for 2010. Mallya was chosen by a five-member jury headed by Securities & Exchange Board of India’s former chairman, M Damodaran, for BoB’s sterling performance over the last couple of years. The jury had shortlisted three bankers from 30 on performance parameters ranging from growth in deposits, advances, assets and bad debt to return on assets and business per employee.
Mallya took charge of BoB in 2008 at a time when global turbulence in the financial sector had threatened to shake India’s banking foundation. Mallya’s mandate was to take BoB to a new level and attract the young. Not only did the person with an “ice temperament” — as colleagues describe him — steer the bank out of the storm, he brought about good growth numbers and a better-than-counterparts showing. BoB’s profits grew 55 per cent in 2008-09 and 37 per cent in 2009-10. Return on assets improved to 1.21 per cent this financial year from 1.1 per cent last year, while return on equity increased to 22.19 per cent from 19.48 per cent.
At the peak of the crisis, the bank contained its incremental delinquency ratio at 1.13 per cent (for 2009-10), with a provision coverage ratio of 74.9 per cent as on March 31, 2010. Investors took note and the stock price outperformed the sector, fetching a return of over 172 per cent.
For Mallya, “cautious aggression” and “stable growth with quality” were key words that helped him steer a steady course through the mayhem. In an interview with Business Standard — the details of which are published in the Banking Annual distributed with today’s edition — when Mallya was asked if BoB’s risk appetite was less than its strength, the CMD said: “…look at our growth of 28 per cent (credit). Where is the conservative approach in that? We are aggressive, but cautious.” So, Mallya played with a straight bat, unlike those playing to the gallery with flamboyance, and it paid off.
The Banking Annual also deals with two key areas in the sector. Both are as pertinent to the reader as the country’s economic pace to the global financial health. One is about Reserve Bank of India’s dilemma in allowing industry to open banks, which is the cover story; and second on how clean the books of banks are.
But what was a nightmare for bankers is history now. Days of cautious hope are back. The managing director & chief executive of India’s largest private sector bank ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar, in an interview to Business Standard’s Banking Annual, said: “Sustainable, profitable growth is back.”
When the global economy is bouncing back and India, in particular, is outpacing the globe in growth, the benefits of the phenomenon must percolate down to consumers. Therefore, financial inclusion -- banking the unbanked -- and improving servicing of customers top the agenda. The Banking Annual finds benefits for the aam admi in both.