It has been an eventful and rewarding year as Chairman of the Board ofICICI Bank. The year was marked by improved operating profitability and furtherstrengthening of the balance sheet of the Bank as well as expansion of the Board and newstrategic initiatives by the executive management. The ICICI brand is one of India'soldest and strongest financial services brands and we continue to contribute to nationbuilding pioneer innovation serve the growing financial needs of society and be asignificant part of the financial services ecosystem.
We are optimistic about the inherent medium and long-term potential ofthe Indian economy. Key economic parameters have been stable with inflation at comfortablelevels and interest rates moderating. The priority now would be to harness investment andconsumption drivers to accelerate the pace of growth. As growth gains momentum it willlead to many more opportunities for all sectors of the economy and in turn for financialservices.
In the last few years the banking system and the Bank have gonethrough a challenging period with an elongated credit cycle and accumulated stress in thesystem. Several factors including important policy initiatives such as the enactment andimplementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) are playing their part inaddressing the past challenges. The changes are now visible and resolutions have gatheredpace allowing banks to prepare for a new phase of growth. As the process evolvesoperational inefficiencies will be resolved resulting in a more mature and better-equippedmechanism for resolution of stressed assets. During the year liquidity challenges in thenon-banking financial sector highlighted the importance of prudent risk management andjudicious asset liability management. During this period the banking system was largelyunaffected by the tight liquidity conditions due to well-established practices and astable liability profile. The banking system helped to mitigate the impact of thechallenges in the non-banking finance companies and benefitted from increased lendingopportunities.
Over the last year the Bank has undertaken several initiatives tosecure a sustainable and profitable future. Many of these initiatives are internal andaimed at making structural changes within the Bank. They will continue to strengthen theBank's core and improve its profitability going forward.
The management team has worked hard to grow the business substantiallyimprove core operating profitability and address the stress of the past. Given the largeopportunity offered by India's growth potential the Bank has aimed to maximisemarket share by leveraging its strengths as a well-recognised brand and a strong anddiversified liability franchise in driving growth in key customer segments. The Bank hasfocussed on growing risk calibrated operating profit by leveraging its strong franchiseand building a more granular and higher rated portfolio. The balance sheet of the Bank hasbeen strengthened substantially in the past year and risk management practices areoriented towards building a more sustainable and profitable growth profile. With continuedimprovement in operating profitability and normalisation of credit costs the Bank wouldseek to deliver better returns to shareholders.
Entities in the financial sector have transformed from standalonecompanies to diversified conglomerates and are now venturing into the domain of ecosystemswhere they are capable of fulfilling a broad spectrum of financial requirements of theircustomers across retail corporate and other segments. This new perspective of businesshas initiated a behavioural change in entities to be on the lookout for new partnershipscustomer segments and ways to better serve existing customers. The Bank has been atechnology leader and has been able to leverage technology to introduce new and moreconvenient ways of accessing the Bank's services. We are confident that innovation isprospering both within and outside the banking system and the Bank will build andleverage partnerships to multiply its efforts to provide a best-in-class experiencethrough the life cycle of its services.
For this new phase of expansion it becomes necessary to not justre-think the current way of doing business but also to establish strong governancepractices. The Bank is committed to high standards of regulatory compliance and governanceand views this as a key guiding force that strengthens its competitive advantage.The Bank has established norms for governance and strictly deals with cases in accordancewith these norms. In keeping with the focus on governance the Board of Directors has beenexpanded and has been further diversified in the past year. Our new board members includeseveral eminent persons with a wide range of experience in technology corporategovernance and regulatory bodies among others. I am sure the Board and management willimmensely benefit from their expertise and support. With these changes the Bank is in agood position to be proactive in adapting to and addressing emerging opportunities andrisks in the system.
Over the years ICICI has established a number of non-banking financialservices businesses that serve the spectrum of financial needs. The Bank'snon-banking businesses are among the leaders in their market segments. We are the onlyfinancial conglomerate in India with four listed companies including the Bank. Each ofthese businesses is focussed on maximising its share of the financial services opportunityin a profitable manner with a focus on prudent risk management and customer centricity.
I wish to thank all our stakeholders and my colleagues on the Board ofDirectors. Together we look forward to a bright future for this esteemed institution.
|With best wishes |
|Girish Chandra Chaturvedi |