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Aditya Puri: Man Of The Moment
At a time when banking is getting complex, Aditya Puri makes it look simple – consistently
Photo Credit : Subhabrata Das
One man has proved consistently that banking is a simple business. Aditya Puri left a lucrative Citigroup position to set up HDFC Bank back in 1993. Ever since, the most recognised banking personality has shown bankers how easy it is to run a bank.
“Banking is a very simple business. You define your target markets and the risks in it. You define the technology to deliver to that market and you process in a manner that covers cost, return on equity and delinquencies. You follow this discipline rigorously,” said Aditya Puri, Managing Director, HDFC Bank, during an interview with BW Businessworld.
Puri, who has consistently maintained high and rigorous banking standards, has expanded HDFC Bank to an enviable balance sheet that boasts total asset size of Rs 8.63 lakh crore and an equally enviable gross non-performing loan level of a mere one per cent.
That’s not just why Puri ranks high on the list of Most Valuable CEOs. HDFC Bank ranks among the top three of India’s largest firms by market capitalisation, the market valuing the bank at Rs 5.22 lakh crore.
Puri recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BW Businessworld Magna Awards 2018. HDFC Bank also won the award for the fastest growing large bank.
“Not everything you launch will work according to the way you want it to. If you find a construct is not working, and there are gaps, then you reassess, you stop. You don’t push forward, you don’t brazen it out. If that results in some pain in the short run, well, you must take it. If you remain true to what you said you want to do, and you are monitoring it and acting on it, the natural result should be that you have a balance sheet that reflects the probability of default forecast in your products,” Puri had stated in an earlier interview.
“I don’t see myself either as an entrepreneur or a job fellow. You can’t be a CEO for so long without passion,” said Puri. On a standalone basis, at end-March, the bank’s balance sheet size was Rs 863,840 crore, up 16.6 per cent from the preceding fiscal’s Rs 740,796 crore.
Deposits increased by 17.8 per cent to Rs 643,640 crore (Rs 546,424 crore) while advances grew 19.4 per cent to Rs 554,568 crore. The bank’s profit before tax grew 18.8 per cent to Rs 22,139.1 crore; net profit was up 18.3 per cent to Rs 14,549.7 crore. Return on average net worth was 18 per cent while the basic earnings per share were Rs 57.20, up from Rs 48.80.
Talking about how to manage life, Puri said: “In life we have a number of balls in the air at the same time such as job, family, friends, etc. It takes us quite some time to realise about our jobs and neglect many things in life.”
Puri acknowledged that telecommunications is moving at a fast pace, which has brought the customer to the centre of business. “This forces us to be customer-centric,” he said. “We at HDFC Bank are proud to say that we have brought eight million families across the country over the poverty line and have provided them jobs and sustainability. Our focus in the future is toward education, healthcare and creating opportunities.”
Puri’s high standards for financial services show through his achievements. “There is nothing related to financial services — whether we manufacture it ourselves or deliver it — that we will not deliver to you in a manner convenient to you at the best price with the trust backed by HDFC Bank.”