Bank CEOs to attend Gyan Sangam retreat as ordinary officers

From Times of India

NEW DELHI: The government has asked bank CEOs to give up the trappings of their office and get into the Gyan Sangam retreat as ordinary officers.
Just like celebrities at the “Big Boss” house, public sector bank chiefs will enter their version of Big Boss to brainstorm with peers and experts, while getting pep talks from RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and finance minister Arun Jaitley. The retreat comes at a time when they are grappling with a pile of bad debt, which is mounting every quarter. This has emerged as one of the biggest challenges, not just for the financial sector, but for the overall economy, given the need for funds to get the engines of growth roaring again.

Sources said the finance ministry is asking banks to ensure that their CEOs are dropped at the gate of the SBI Training Institute in Gurgaon on Friday morning from where they will walk to their rooms, without the company of the friendly liaison officers who take care of everything — from their meals to medicines and attending to phone calls.

Rajan will set the tone for the two-day retreat with his views on asset quality review, an exercise that has prompted banks to treat several loans as non-performing assets, something that they had been dithering on for several quarters. By afternoon, they break out into groups that deal with crucial issues ranging from M&As and restructuring to NPA management and recovery and credit growth. It’s a different matter that public sector bank chiefs had thumbed down the idea of consolidation but would now have to move ahead with it given the government’s thrust in the Budget.
The format for Gyan Sangam 2.0 is drawn from the inaugural version in Pune in January 2015 where PM Narendra Modi addressed bankers. While there is no early morning yoga session this year, Swami Sukhbhodhananda, described as a corporate guru, returns to the retreat on Saturday. The Swami’s session was a great success last year.

And from spirituality, bankers would move to the task at hand, to discuss quarterly performance and the action plan for next year before receiving some words of wisdom from the finance minister.
At the meeting, banks are expected to identify areas where they have not moved since the first off-site. There are several areas where customer satisfaction can improve but banks have done little. For instance, they have not made any progress on leveraging Big Data in improving service standards, digitisation of lending processes, launching customer education campaigns or simplifying forms.
On the crucial issue of consolidation, discussions at the Indian Banks’ Association saw bankers question the need for a strategy like that and suggested that the exercise should be driven by the government.


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