New SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar writes letter to staff

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Mumbai: State Bank of India’s new chairman Rajnish Kumar urged SBI employees to follow the highest standards of governance and keep themselves updated with new technologies to ensure that the country’s largest lender maintains its competitive edge.

“Today, there is also a severe trust deficit amongst the various stakeholders in the financial ecosystem. I believe that ethics is the only way out to bridge this gap. Therefore, I urge you all, to promote moral and ethical grandeur unconditionally in your daily actions and decisions,” Kumar said in a letter addressed to the bank’s 268,705 employees.

Kumar took charge as the new SBI chairman on Saturday, succeeding Arundhati Bhattacharya.

Mint has reviewed the letter, which was uploaded on Monday on the bank’s internal website for employees.

Kumar noted that the banking industry is passing through tough times, a trend seen worldwide. The sector could not be insulated from unfavourable macroeconomic conditions because of a highly interconnected world and economic environment.

Kumar’s appointment comes at a time when stressed loans in the Indian banking system are estimated to have surged to around Rs10 trillion. This has weighed on lenders’ profitability, and SBI is no exception. At the end of June, the bank was weighed down by gross non-performing loans of Rs1.88 trillion, or almost 10% of total advances.

He has set as his top priorities resolving stressed loans, reviving credit offtake and a continued focus on digitization as well as HR initiatives.

Kumar said that from being perceived as a traditional bank, SBI has transformed itself as a technology-savvy one in all aspects from delivery channels to product offering.

“With this essential core of our strengths, I have no doubt that our bank will overcome the current challenges soon. Still, we should not forget that the crown position in the industry bequeaths greater responsibilities on us to push ourselves extra,” the new SBI chairman said in the letter.

Kumar added that there is a need for employees to continually update themselves on the tech front to provide seamless digital services, especially to younger customers. “Only then, technology will provide us with a sustainable, competitive adva­ntage. Only then, we would be able to efficiently deliver new age banking for New India.”

He added that while performance and productivity are non-negotiable, employees must pay attention to their health and maintain a strike a proper work-life balance.

Kumar also asked customer-facing staff to be courteous. “We may have best of products, technology, ambience but if we are not courteous and polite to our customers, our business will not endure.”