Zarin Daruwala is aggressively expanding into retail banking and creating building blocks for the next phase of quality growth.

ZARIN DARUWALA CEO, India, Standard Chartered Bank (Photo: Mandar Deodhar) ZARIN DARUWALA CEO, India, Standard Chartered Bank (Photo: Mandar Deodhar)

Zarin Daruwala, 52, is single-mindedly focused on getting things done. "I have a bias for action and persistence," says Daruwala, who moved from ICICI Bank to Standard Chartered in April 2016 . In the last 18 months, her focus has been on ensuring a balance between wholesale and retail assets. Heavy reliance on corporate banking had put the bank in a spot after the 2007/08 slowdown. In the just-concluded financial year, the bank posted a 142 per cent jump in net profit due to better control over NPAs and rise in fee-based income.

Daruwala had been a corporate banker all her life. Her mandate at StanChart was to expand retail banking. Her efforts have ensured that the segment is growing 15-16 per cent. As a result, retail advances have grown from 22 per cent to 28 per cent of advances. "Retail is a journey. It doesn't happen overnight," she says. The bank has 100 branches in 43 cities. It has also expanded its footprint in business banking, which covers small and medium enterprises. She has also managed to expand the credit card business.

Daruwala is focusing on technology too. The bank has a mobile app and has launched an electronic banking centre, something like a digital branch. It is also expected to launch more online products, especially personal loans and credit cards. It also plans to source deposits online. "We have launched voice biometrics. We are also using biometrics for mobile banking. We have also launched video banking," says Daruwala. The challenges include growing top line given the slowdown in the economy, overleveraged companies and near absence of capex. "There is surplus liquidity in the system post demonetisation. The credit offtake has also slowed," says Daruwala. She, however, sees momentum in sectors such as roads, defence and railways.

In retail banking, the competition is growing. In 2016/17, gross NPAs rose from 6.02 per cent to 6.9 per cent. Daruwala says they have almost peaked. One reason for the rise in profitability in 2016/17 was the 37 per cent reduction in provisions and contingencies. To minimise build-up of NPAs in future, she has introduced greater use of analytics and built a system for better monitoring of corporate accounts.