Aditya Puri has stuck to conventional banking to make his institution a financial powerhouse.
In 1994, HDFC Bank consisted of Aditya Puri and his table. Fourteen years later, the footprint has expanded to 1,400 branches – the largest among all private banks in India. And the man at the centre of it all says he has banked on pure common sense to take his institution forward. “You do not have to change the world to achieve things,” the 58-year old MD of HDFC Bank says.
|HDFC BANK AT A GLANCE
|3 Yrs CAGR
* As on November 30,2008
Unlike some of its peers which were trying to change the scope of the market, HDFC Bank stuck to conventional banking. While many new generation banks focused on raising high-cost bulk deposits, Puri focused on retail deposits besides working with mutual funds, stock exchanges and also on tax collection for the government to ensure that his bank had access to low-cost funds.
On the lending side too, the bank stuck to basics. While direct sales agents were there, the bank ensured that over 85 per cent of the business was through branches, in-house staff and with existing customers. Yet, the bank has made extensive use of technology to help it lower the cost of funds and improve efficiency levels.
Five bank chiefs were shortlisted for this year’s Banker of the Year Award, based on their performance over the last three years. Among them, HDFC Bank was marginally ahead of its competitor, Axis
Bank, on parameters such as growth in deposit, assets, net profit and net interest income over the last three years.
What also tilted the scales in Puri’s favour (he was the clear winner in a poll among the Senior Editors of Business Standard) was the takeover of Centurion Bank of Punjab, which has helped the bank more than double its distribution network. Acquisitions are not something new to the bank. In fact, Puri is a pioneer of sorts in M&As, having acquired Times Bank in 2000. It was the first merger of two new-generation private banks.
In many ways, Puri, who left a cushy job at Citi to take part in India’s economic transformation, is a CEO with a difference: He leaves office by 5.30 p.m. (no late night networking for him), prefers to spend weekends at his farmhouse in Lonavala and doesn’t carry laptop or mobile phone. “My job is to think and provide four to five big ideas every year. My colleagues are competent enough to do the rest,” Puri says.
Going by HDFC Bank’s scorching pace of growth, his colleagues haven’t let him down.