Financial Institutions


Shalu Malik
NSB, NIILM School of Business
New Delhi


Financial institutions are government-regulated or private entities that offer financial services to their customers. These institutions control the flow of cash from an investor to a company and vice versa within and outside a country. Financial institutions cater to clients ranging from individuals to big organizations, depending on their size and the services offered. Broadly speaking, financial institutions deal in the sectors pertaining to mortgage, automobile, homeowner, personal business and corporate finance.

The Financial Institutions in India mainly comprises of the Central Bank which is better known as the Reserve Bank of India, the commercial banks, the credit rating agencies, the securities and exchange board of India, insurance companies and the specialized financial institutions in India. 

Reserve Bank of India:

The Reserve Bank of India was established in the year 1935 with a view to organize the financial frame work and facilitate fiscal stability in India. The bank acts as the regulatory authority with regard to the functioning of the various commercial bank and the other financial institutions in India. The bank formulates different rates and policies for the overall improvement of the banking sector. It issue currency notes and offers aids to the central and institutions governments.

Commercial Banks in India:

The commercial banks in India are categorized into foreign banks, private banks and the public sector banks. The commercial banks indulge in varied activities such as acceptance of deposits, acting as trustees, offering loans for the different purposes and are even allowed to collect taxes on behalf of the institutions and central government. 

Credit Rating Agencies in India:  

The credit rating agencies in India were mainly formed to assess the condition of the financial sector and to find out avenues for more improvement. The credit rating agencies offer various services as:

  • Operation Up gradation
  • Training to Employees
  • Scrutinize New Projects and find out the weak sections in it
  • Rate different sectors
  • The two most important credit rating agencies in India are:

  • ICRA
  • Securities and Exchange Board of India:

    The securities and exchange board of India, also referred to as SEBI was founded in the year 1992 in order to protect the interests of the investors and to facilitate the functioning of the market intermediaries. They supervise market conditions, register institutions and indulge in risk management.

    Specialized Financial Institutions in India :

    The specialized financial institutions in India are government undertakings that were set up to provide assistance to the different sectors and thereby cause overall development of the Indian economy. The significant institutions falling under this category includes:

  • Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction
  • Export-Import Bank Of India
  • Small Industries Development Bank of India
  • National Housing Bank

    I shall now say a few words about the factors that are important in building a stable financial system. Most generally, a stable financial system can be described as a financial system that is able to withstand shocks without giving way to cumulative processes which could impair the allocation of savings to investments and the processing of payments in the economy. How do we get there?

    1. First, financial system architecture should be carefully planned. Different stages of financial development require adequate institutional processes to be in place. Here, one can refer to the sequencing laid out by IMF in recent years and to the European experience with opening and gradually liberalizing the financial sector during the 1980s and 1990s.

    2. Second, a solid micro supervision of the financial sector and individual institutions should be in place.

    3. Third, close co-operation and exchange of information between the central bank and supervisory authorities is warranted at all times and especially in periods of financial stress. I will refer to this more extensively in a moment.

    4. Fourth, there are several, complementary public policies that are typically needed to sustain or build up confidence in financial institutions.

    • Fiscal policy. If fiscal authorities, as in the euro area, are restricted in their ability to run deficits or accumulate large debts, an important source of financial market stress and financial instability is removed.
    • Monetary policy.  As is now widely accepted, monetary authorities should in the first place try to guarantee price stability, being the best possible contribution it can make to growth in the medium to long-term. Indirectly, this should also be conducive to supporting financial stability, as the economy will have less macro uncertainties to deal with, when allocating resources. However, it goes without saying that the central bank should take an active interest in monitoring financial sector developments, given the importance of the sector, also from a monetary policy (transmission) perspective, and given its importance in the economic system (intermediation between lenders and borrowers). In some cases, when financial stability is threatened, monetary policy may be used as a tool to support the financial sector. This support may come not only through interest rate policy, but also and most powerfully through the central bank's role as a lender of last resort, that is, in providing final liquidity when solvent commercial banks suffer liquidity strains.

    Financial Institutions: Types

    Financial institutions can be categorized into the following types, based on the services offered by them:

    * Commercial banks: These institutions offer services such as insurance, mortgages, loans and credit banks.

    * Credit banks: They are cooperative financial institutions, generally controlled by members who have accounts in the firm. These unions offer direct debits, direct deductions from payroll, cheaper insurance facilities and standing order facilities.

    * Savings and loan association: These associations offer loans, mortgages, insurance, credit cards and interest to their clients.

    * Stock brokerage firms: These firms help individuals and corporate invest in stock market. Stock brokerage firms also offer insurance, mortgages, credit cards, securities, loans, check writing and money market services to clients.

    * Insurance companies: Insurance companies provide a cash cover in lieu of premium to policyholders. Services such as insurance, securities, mortgages, loans, credit cards and check writing are offered by these firms.

    * Retailers: They offer services such as insurance, securities, mortgages, loans, credit cards and cash management.

    National Level Institutions

    A wide variety of financial institutions have been set up at the national level. They cater to the diverse financial requirements of the entrepreneurs. They include all India development banks like IDBI, SIDBI, IFCI Ltd, IIBI; specialized financial institutions like IVCF, ICICI Venture Funds Ltd, TFCI; investment institutions like LIC, GIC, UTI; etc.

    1. All-India Development Banks (AIDBs):- Includes those development banks which provide institutional credit to not only large and medium enterprises but also help in promotion and development of small scale industrial units. 

    * Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI): was established in July 1964 as an apex financial institution for industrial development in the country. It caters to the diversified needs of medium and large scale industries in the form of financial assistance, both direct and indirect. Direct assistance is provided by way of project loans, underwriting of and direct subscription to industrial securities, soft loans, technical refund loans, etc. While, indirect assistance is in the form of refinance facilities to industrial concerns.

    * Industrial development Bank of India (IDBI): was the first development finance institution set up in 1948 under the IFCI Act in order to pioneer long-term institutional credit to medium and large industries. It aims to provide financial assistance to industry by way of rupee and foreign currency loans, underwrites/subscribes the issue of stocks, shares, bonds and debentures of industrial concerns, etc. It has also diversified its activities in the field of merchant banking, syndication of loans, formulation of rehabilitation programmes, assignments relating to amalgamations and mergers, etc.

    * Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI): was set up by the Government of India in April 1990, as a wholly owned subsidiary of IDBI. It is the principal financial institution for promotion, financing and development of small scale industries in the economy. It aims to empower the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector with a view to contributing to the process of economic growth, employment generation and balanced regional development.

    * Industrial Bank of India corporation ltd: was set up in 1985 under the Industrial reconstruction Bank of India Act, 1984, as the principal credit and reconstruction agency for sick industrial units. It was converted into IIBI on March 17, 1997, as a full-fledged development financial institution. It assists industry mainly in medium and large sector through wide ranging products and services. Besides project finance, IIBI also provides short duration non-project asset-backed financing in the form of underwriting/direct subscription, deferred payment guarantees and working capital/other short-term loans to companies to meet their fund requirements.

    2. Specialized Financial Institutions (SFIs):- are the institutions which have been set up to serve the increasing financial needs of commerce and trade in the area of venture capital, credit rating and leasing, etc. 

    * IFCI Venture Capital Funds Limited (IVCF): formerly known as Risk Capital & Technology Finance Corporation Ltd (RCTC), is a subsidiary of IFCI Ltd. It was promoted with the objective of broadening entrepreneurial base in the country by facilitating funding to ventures involving innovative product/process/technology. Initially, it started providing financial assistance by way of soft loans to promoters under its 'Risk capital scheme'. Since 1988, it also started providing finance under 'Technology finance and Development scheme' to projects for commercialization of indigenous technology for new processes, products, market or services. Over the years, it has acquired great deal of experience in investing in technology-oriented projects.

    * ICICI Venture Funds Ltd: formerly known as Technology Development & Information Company of India Limited (TDICI), was founded in 1988 as a joint venture with the Unit Trust of India. Subsequently, it became a fully owned subsidiary of ICICI. It is a technology venture finance company, set up to sanction project finance for new technology ventures. The industrial units assisted by it are in the fields of computer, chemicals/polymers, drugs, diagnostics and vaccines, biotechnology, environmental engineering, etc.

    * Tourism Finance Corporation of India Ltd. (TFCI):- is a specialized financial institution set up by the Government of India for promotion and growth of tourist industry in the country. Apart from conventional tourism projects, it provides financial assistance for non-conventional tourism projects like amusement parks, ropeways, car rental services, ferries for inland water transport, etc. 

    3. Investment Institutions:- are the most popular form of financial intermediaries, which particularly catering to the needs of small savers and investors. They deploy their assets largely in marketable securities. 

    * Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC): was established in 1956 as a wholly-owned corporation of the Government of India. It was formed by the Life insurance corporation act, 1956, with the objective of spreading life insurance much more widely and in particular to the rural area. It also extends assistance for development of infrastructure facilities like housing, rural electrification, water supply, sewerage, etc. In addition, it extends resource support to other financial institutions through subscription to their shares and bonds, etc. The Life Insurance Corporation of India also transacts business abroad and has offices in Fiji, Mauritius and United Kingdom. Besides the branch operations, the Corporation has established overseas subsidiaries jointly with reputed local partners in Bahrain, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

    * Unit Trust of India (UTI): was set up as a body corporate under the UTI act, 1963, with a view to encourage savings and investment. It mobilizes savings of small investors through sale of units and channelizes them into corporate investments mainly by way of secondary capital market operations. Thus, its primary objective is to stimulate and pool the savings of the middle and low income groups and enable them to share the benefits of the rapidly growing industrialization in the country. In December 2002, the UTI Act, 1963 was repealed with the passage of UTI Act, 2002, paving the way for the bifurcation of UTI into 2 entities, UTI-I and UTI-II with effect from 1st February 2003.

    * General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC): was formed in pursuance of the General insurance business act, 2002 for the purpose of superintending, controlling and carrying on the business of general insurance or non-life insurance. Initially, GIC had four subsidiary branches.

    State Level Institutions

    Several financial institutions have been set up at the State level which supplements the financial assistance provided by the all India institutions. They act as a catalyst for promotion of investment and industrial development in the respective States. They broadly consist of 'State financial corporations' and 'State industrial development corporations'.

    * State Financial Corporation's (SFCs)  :- are the State-level financial institutions which play a crucial role in the development of small and medium enterprises in the concerned States. They provide financial assistance in the form of term loans, direct subscription to equity/debentures, guarantees, discounting of bills of exchange and seed/ special capital, etc.


    Shalu Malik
    NSB, NIILM School of Business
    New Delhi

    Source: E-mail August 25, 2010




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