Managing Challenges in Banking Industry


Dr. Sudhindra Bhat
Management Faculty, Consultant and Corporate Trainer
Acharya Institute of Management and Sciences
1st Cross, 1st stage, Peenya industrial Area, Bangalore-560 058

Financial System is the most important institutional and functional vehicle for economic transformation of any country. Banking sector is reckoned as a hub and barometer of the financial system. As a pillar of the economy, this sector plays a predominant role in the economic development of the country. The geographical pervasiveness of the bank coupled with the range and depth of their services make the system an indispensable medium in every day transactions. The virtual monopoly of banks in `Payment Mechanism' touches the lives of millions of people every day and every where. Thus the banking sector has been playing a significant role as growth facilitator.

The changing paradigm of Banking

Change is the only constant factor in this dynamic world and banking is not an exception. The changes staring in the face of bankers relates to the fundamental way of banking-which is undergoing rapid transformation in the world of today, in response to the forces of completion productivity and efficiency of operations, reduced operating margins better asset/liability management, risk management, any time and any where banking. The major challenge faced by banks today is to protect the falling margins due to the impact of competition. Another significant impact of banks today is the technology issue. There is an imperative need for not mere technology up gradation but also its integration with the general way of functioning of banks to give them an edge in respect of services provided to optimizing the use of funds and building up MIS for decision making and better management of assets and liabilities and risk assumed which in turns have a direct impact on the balance sheet of banks as a whole. Word over, technology has demonstrated potential to change methods of selling marketing, advertising, designing, pricing and distributing financial products of an electronic, self-service product delivery channel. All these changes call for a new, more dynamic, aggressive and challenging work culture to meet the demands of customer relationships, product differentiation, brand values, reputation, corporate governance and regulatory prescriptions.

Challenges facing Indian banking

The main challenges facing by Indian banking are the role of financial instrumentation in different phases of the business cycle, the emerging compulsions of the new prudential norms and benchmarking the Indian financial system against international standards and best practices. The need for introduction of new technology in the banking and the importance of skill building and intellectual capital formation in the banking industry are also equal important.

Financial intermediation

Till recently the role of banks in the economy was perceived to be 'catalysts' of mobilizing resource requirement for growth. This view has undergone a change and banks are no longer viewed as passive mobilizer of funds, Efficiency in the financial intermediation is the ability of the financial institution to intermediate between savers and investors, to set economic prices for capital and allocate resources among completing demands is now emphasized. In the wake of the recent emphasized in the economy the intermediation role assumes even greater relevance. By virtue of their experience and superior credit assessment of the investment proposals banks should play a significant role in identifying and nurturing growth impulse in the commodity and service producing sector in the economy.

Market discipline

Transparency and disclosure norms are assuming greater importance in the emerging environment. Banks are now required to be more responsive and accountable to the investors. Banks move to disclose in their balance sheets information on maturity profiles of assets and liabilities, lending to sensitive sectors, movements in NPAs, besides providing information on capital, provisions, shareholdings of the government, value of investment in India and abroad, and other operating and profitability indicators. They also have to make a disclosure of total investments made in equity shares, units of mutual funds, bonds and debentures and aggregate advances against shares in their notes to balance sheet.

Efforts are on to set up a credit information bureau to collect and share information on borrowers and improve the credit appraisal of banks and financial institutions.

Adopting International Standards

The fallout of Asian crisis and the impetus given to the strengthening of domestic financial systems has resulted in a more by the regulators to set up universally acceptable standards and codes for benchmarking financial systems. RBI has also set-up an advisory group to draw a road map for implementation of appropriate standards and codes in light of existing levels of compliance, cross country experience and the existing legal and institutional infrastructure. In view of the vast diversity in the size, an asset liability profiles of the banks it becomes very difficult for a few of them to meet the new benchmark of global standards. Each bank has to draw it own strategy to move towards this direction.

Technology Banking

Innovation in technology and world-wide revolution in information and communication technology are perceived to be the catalyst of productivity growth. The relationship between IT and Banking is fundamentally symbiotic. It is expected to reduce costs, increase volumes and facilitate customized products. Technology adoption is a dire necessity for the public sector banks to complete with new generation private sector and foreign banks. It is a `compulsion' rather than a `choice'. Retention of existing customer is the primary concern of majority of the banks today.

The major challenge for banks is to fall in line with the emerging scenario and adopting the require technology to provide stake-of-the-art services to the customers. Introduction of on-line, inter-connected automatic teller machines (ATM), telephone banking, on-line bill payment and Internet banking are some of the high tech facilities. Banks have to provide in order to survive in the competitive scenario. Technology should ultimate results in better customer service, low cost and quick delivery.

Rural banking

Having committed 75% of their branches network to serving rural and semi-urban population, public sector banks have to adopt a financial emerging approach to rural banking.

Human resource development in banks

T he core function of HRD in the banking industry is to facilitate performance improvement, measured not only in terms of certain financial indicators of operational efficiency but also in terms of quality of financial services provided. The skill level, attitude and knowledge of the personnel play an important role in determining the competitiveness of a bank. Banks have to understand that the capital and technology-considered to be the most important pillars of banking -are replicable, but not human capital, which needs to be viewed as a valuable resource for the achievement of competitive advantage. The primary concern of the bank should be to bring in proper integration of human resource management strategies with the business strategies. It should faster cohesive team work and create commitment to improve the efficiency of its human capital. More than operational skills today's banking call for these `soft skills' to attend the needs and requirement of the customers at the counter. The need to adopt global best practices to financial sector regulation and supervision and adopt them to the domestic environment, places a premium skills and expertise of the bank human resources.


The Indian banking industry is facing newer challenges in terms of narrowing spreads, new banking products and players and mergers and acquisitions. Adoption of risk management tools and new information technology is now no more a choice but a business compulsion. Technology product innovation, sophisticated risk management systems, generation of new income streams, Building business volumes and cost efficiency will be the key to success of the banks in the new era. In the present environment where change is invisible, it is not enough if bank change with the change, but they have to change before the change. They should perceive what customer want and accordingly structure their product and services.

Dr. Sudhindra Bhat
Management Faculty, Consultant and Corporate Trainer
Acharya Institute of Management and Sciences
1st Cross, 1st stage, Peenya industrial Area, Bangalore-560 058

Source: E-mail August 8, 2005


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