As the competition heats up between banks and the new-age fintech firms, large banks with healthy operational performances and strong balance sheet will continue to grow faster than the industry, Axis Bank MD and CEO Amitabh Chaudhry said in the annual report 2021-22 released on Wednesday.
With a number of transformation driven initiatives like One Axis and stepping up of investments on technology among others, he said these are the steps for building a “Bank of Bharat.”
“….raising the bar on customer obsession with our project ‘Sparsh’, and the contracted acquisition of Citi’s India consumer business continue to push our agenda in the right direction,” Chaudhry said in his statement to the shareholders of the bank.
He said there has been intense competition between the incumbent banks and new age fin-tech companies to win the hearts and minds of customers.
“In such an environment, the large banks with healthy operational performance, strong balance sheet and capital position, superior technological and operational capabilities and robust risk management practices would continue to grow faster than the overall sector,” the official said.
During 2021-22, Axis Bank had announced the proposed acquisition of Citibank’s consumer businesses in India.
It provides an opportunity to further accelerate retail business growth while strengthening bank’s positioning across key business segments like credit cards, wealth management, salary deposits and focused retail lending businesses, Chaudhry said.
He said the transition and integration process related to Citi’s consumer businesses has been progressing well and is on track.
“The Integration Management Office with a steering committee is in place with nominees from both sides. The work has already commenced on key work streams around people, technology, business functions, operations etc. towards optimising the transition process.”
“Basis the transaction closing by fourth quarter of fiscal 2023, we expect to fully integrate the acquired businesses in 18 months thereafter,” said the head of the country’s third-largest private sector lender.
Further, he said that rising inflation, tightening liquidity and geo-political developments pose a near-term risk to economic growth, however, the opportunity in financial services space is immense.
The long-term growth drivers for Indian economy remain firmly in place on back of several initiatives taken by the government to boost manufacturing and small industries, and recent shift in global manufacturing and supply chain dynamics towards India.
“Over the last few years, we have witnessed rapid fundamental shifts in banking and financial services industry led by three big trends consumerisation, digital disruption and increased regulatory oversight.”
On the bank’s plan for a future ready organisation, he said digital continues to be an area of relentless focus with over 1,500 people dedicated to digital agenda.
“We are leveraging our inhouse product, design and engineering teams to create proprietary digital products, impact of which is now visible across the business segments. The bank now has over 80 partnerships across ecosystem and has over 300 APIs hosted on API Developer Portal.”
“We were also the first bank to go live on the Account Aggregator framework and have launched several use cases in loan acquisition of personal loans, auto loans, credit cards etc.”
Touching upon the recent issue related to some individuals found to be in violation of securities laws in its asset management subsidiary Axis AMC, he said the company’s management took stringent action against them.
Chaudhry said the review process is still ongoing and pursuant to the findings, certain actions have been taken.
Various enhancements are being implemented based on findings till date. Axis AMC continues to maintain governance standards including compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements and has a zero-tolerance policy towards any instance of noncompliance.
The management of Axis AMC has informed SEBI of the investigation and action taken and is co-operating with SEBI on the same, he said.
On the bank wider goal towards environment, social and governance, he said, “ESG continues to remain a bankwide agenda. We have always recognised our employees as our greatest asset…We have been working towards creating an organisation that will lead the industry, not just in business performance but as a distinctive workplace.”
In fiscal year ended March 31, 2022, Axis Bank nearly doubled its profit after tax to Rs 13,025 crore, while the net interest income grew by 13% to Rs 33,132 crore.
Bank’s total assets were up 19% to Rs 11.75 lakh crore, deposits rose by 18% to Rs 821,721 crore while the advances went up by 15% to Rs 707,696 crore.