It was celebration time once again, and the mood at the FE India’s Best Banks Awards was upbeat. Union finance and corporate affairs minister Nirmala Sitharaman set the tone by reaffirming that the economy was in good shape. Addressing a gathering of leaders in the financial sector and industry, Sitharaman highlighted the robust corporate tax collections saying this was a clear sign private investments were picking up on the promise of durable consumption demand. The minister also hinted at sustained support to exports, as “these are facing external headwinds” and steps to attract more foreign investments. “We want to draw more foreign investments into India so that the growth momentum is not lost. We are definitely working on this,” Sitharaman said.
That assurance seemed to cheer up the mood for the rest of the evening, with bankers and businessmen agreeing that the government had done a great job of navigating the pandemic.
The excitement mounted as the awards presentation began. From fintech founders to CEOs of small finance banks (SFB), non banking financial companies (NBFC) and bankers, the winners received their trophies from the FM, posing for photographs as the audience applauded. Performances in 2019-20 and 2020-21 were acknowledged; there were those who were recognised for organisational efficiency and others for the success of a product. Over the years, the awards have appreciated individual performances. The jury picked Padmaja Chunduru, former MD&CEO, Indian Bank, as Banker of the Year for 2019-20 acknowledging her efforts at rejuvenating the lender. Accepting the honour, Chunduru credited the turnaround at Indian Bank to team effort.
For exemplary leadership of ICICI Bank, during an extremely difficult period, the jury selected Sandeep Bakhshi as the Banker of the Year for 2020-21. Bakhshi too acknowledged the contribution of everyone at the private sector bank.
Keki Mistry, vice chairman and CEO of HDFC, walked away with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his four decades of work in the mortgage space. “I am proud to receive the award from the Express group which is known for its journalistic integrity. I am proud that HDFC, which was set up to facilitate delivery of homes to middle-income Indians, has developed into a financial conglomerate,” Mistry said.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, Viveck Goenka, chairman and managing director, The Indian Express Group, observed, the FE Best Banks awards have become a benchmark for recognising excellence in the financial sector. The awards, he said, are not only about celebrating the success of the so-called big boys of the sector; they have also been about recognising talent early on. “FE was among the first to recognise the coming disruption in the financial sector by honouring the excellent work done by NBFCs, fintechs, and small finance banks. We are immensely proud that some of those awarded in the past have since joined the big league by doing phenomenal work,” Goenka said.