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Standard Chartered to hire almost 1000 people to build up retail lending segment

Admin| Jun 06, 2016 - 11:02 AM India

Standard Chartered Bank plans to step up recruitment in India in the next few quarters as part of efforts to build up the lucrative but competitive retail lending segment to return to growth even as it cleans up the corporate debt book. 

"We are hiring about 1,000 people this year. Retail is one of our strong points, but at about 20 per cent of our loan book in India, it is still a small part," said Zarin Daruwala , who took charge as chief executive of India's biggest foreign bank on April 1. "We want to get the balance right. If not 50-50, the wholesale-retail mix should be at least 60-40." 

The new staff will be mostly from rivals with experience in front-end operations to help build relationships quickly, launch new products and get new clients in areas like wealth management. India is the bank's biggest market in South Asia with around 7,000 employees. 

 

The new staff will be mostly from rivals with experience in front-end operations to help build relationships quickly, launch new products and get new clients in areas like wealth management. India is the bank's biggest market in South Asia with around 7,000 employees. The bank will also invest in technology in the front and back ends, especially in mobile and online banking as part of this retail thrust. This follows the realisation that Standard Chartered had neglected the retail segment and most of its woes in India stemmed from the wholesale side of the business. In an interview to ET in December, Standard Chartered global CEO Bill Winters said investing in retail in India was a top priority. "We have a good retail business here, we are going to invest substantially in that because we have a real differentiation in the 100 branches we operate. (We are the) biggest foreign bank by far on the retail side and it's a huge growth opportunity for us," Winters had said. 

"Zarin's objective and mine (is) to take the retail business where we have got a good foundation, but we have underinvested to oversee a really substantive investment programme." 

Standard Chartered slumped to a record $981 million pre-tax loss in India in 2015 because it was forced to set aside $1.34 billion against rising non-performing assets (NPAs), up eight times from $171 million in 2014. India operating income dropped 29 per cent to $1.03 billion from $1.45 billion. 

"There has been an increase in impairments as a result of the new strategic plan announced in November 2015, whereby a small number of impaired exposures have now been identified to be in the liquidation portfolio," the bank said in February, referring to the higher India provisions. 

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