[sbinews] Best Bank 2004 -HDFC Bank -Article from Business Today (Text Version)

  • From: "Rajendra S. Pai" <rs.pai@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <sbinews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 24 Dec 2004 08:54:00 +0530

Top Of The Heap
For the second year in a row, HDFC Bank tops BT's list of best banks. Its
secret: As always, not just robust growth, but superlative quality of
By Roshni Jayakar

HDFC Bank's Aditya Puri: Not the biggest, but the best
For HDFC bank's Managing Director, Aditya Puri, a night out for dinner is
never just that. Late last year, when this Mumbai-based banker took his top
team in Delhi out for a dinner at Pandara Road, he couldn't resist doing a
bit of selling on the side. So, off went the 54-year-old Puri, who's been
heading the country's #1 bank for 10 years now, hopping from one retail
outlet near the restaurant to another, quizzing the store managers on their
credit card swiping machines: why were they using a particular bank's
terminal, how many transactions did they clock every day, how much
commission were they paying the bank? At each of the five outlets that he
visited that night, Puri made a case for switching to his own bank's
point-of-sale (PoS) terminals, citing the 1 per cent less commission HDFC
Bank charged merchant establishments compared to other banks. By next
evening, all the five shops were Puri's customers.
A minor triumph? For any other CEO, maybe, but for a man who believes in
building his bank, brick by careful brick, it's a victory just the same.
Indeed, that's how HDFC Bank came to be the leading player in pos terminals
(it's got 40,000 of them), and that's also why other banks in the country
are finding it hard to unseat its top-most perch on the Business Today-KPMG
survey of India's
Best Banks. What sets the bank apart? It is what most analysts call "quality
growth", which means market leadership in terms of quality of earnings, but
not necessarily in terms of volumes. According to a recent DSP Merrill Lynch
report, "HDFC Bank's ability to consistently deliver quality growth,
especially in a rising interest rate environment, is not fully discounted
(read: reflected in the share price)." Another brokerage firm, Sharekhan,
describes the bank's stock as "an evergreen investment".

The bank's balance sheet size has grown to Rs 42,307 crore, with a net
profit growth of 31.45 per cent and business growth of 41.42 per cent.
Where's the growth coming from? An expanding footprint and product
offerings. The growth is not just in retail, where it is adding nearly
90,000 new customers every month, but also in the corporate or wholesale
segment, which continues to clip at an impressive 10 to 15 per cent. Sitting
in the sixth-floor corner room at the bank's headquarters at lower Parel in
Central Mumbai, Puri spells out his strategy: "Given the fact that the
market opportunity is immense, it's a misnomer that you need price
competition to get business. So, if business is not an issue, then the bank
can be choosy about the customer in terms of returns or lifetime value to
the bank." By the way, that's not just talk. The bank's NPAs, or bad loans,
as a percentage of net advances are a mere 0.16 per cent versus an industry
average of 2.9 per cent. Even that amount of bad loans is covered to the
extent of 92 per cent.
Cranking Up Growth
Playing it safe, however, is not the same as not chasing opportunities. The
bank has been continuing to gain market share in the retail and corporate
spaces, simply because it has continued to expand its reach and muscle into
newer product segments. Take the retail business, for example. In the past
12 months, it has opened 100 new branches, taking the total count to 416.
Simultaneously, there has been a rapid roll out of offerings: its auto loans
are now available in 300 cities compared to just 30 a year ago; personal
loans now cover 108 cities versus 28, and its credit card marketing reaches
110 cities as against 17 the same time last year.

In credit cards especially, the bank has met with enormous success. Despite
entering the market late by about two years, it claims to be issuing 70,000
new cards every month and to have crossed the coveted 1 million mark. What's
more, since 70 per cent of the cards issued are paid cards (that is, credit
card fee is paid as against free cards), risks of default are lower. That's
a classic example of the bank's preferred strategy of selling more to the
existing customer. Incredibly, depending on the product, as much as up to 60
per cent of the new products are sold to existing customers. What helps? The
bank's database on customers, which can be mined for information on
consumption behaviour of existing customers and predicting their future
requirements. And since almost a third of the sales are through branches,
the bank doesn't have to pay commission to direct sales agents (DSAs),
further improving its own margins. Now the focus is on reducing the
turnaround time by 30 per cent for customers. Says Neeraj Swaroop, Country
Head (Retail): "This not only increases the business but reduces the cost,
giving a sustainable advantage."
The thrust on retail has also helped HDFC Bank increase its fee income and
create a pool of stable funds that comes from savings accounts. For
instance, retail accounts for about 65 per cent of total fee income, largely
driven by the plastics business (credit and debit cards, and pos terminals).
Retail deposits and third-party collections offer another advantage: besides
being stable, they cost less. As a result, the bank has been able to keep
its cost of funds at a low 4.2 per cent (it ranks #5 on the survey on this
count) and despite the fluctuations in interest rates, maintain an interest
spread for itself of 3 per cent.
In the last few years, while several other banks downsized corporate banking
as interest rates went down, HDFC Bank's decision to focus on top corporates
has paid off. Says Rajiv Gupta, Joint Managing Director, DSP Merrill Lynch:
"HDFC Bank figured out the opportunity by offering solutions to large
corporates where margins are high." Today, that's an important contributor
to the bank's earnings. But it's not plain vanilla lending that rakes in the
moolah. The bank's offerings include many other add-ons such as collaterals,
customised supply chain management solutions that combine e-banking and cash
management, (the customer's) vendor and distributor financing.
Consider how one such relationship works. In the case of Bharat Petroleum
Corporation (BPCL), the bank has integrated into the payment supply chain.
For example, when an LPG dealer makes a payment online, that gets logged in
BPCL's ERP system (it's from sap) and translates into an order at the oil
company's warehouse, which then despatches a truck with the LPG cylinders.
There are over 4,500 supply chain management accounts linked to large
corporates and the bank's electronic cash management clocks volume at Rs
12,000 crore a month-three times larger than the nearest rival. Says Samir
Bhatia, Country Head (Corporate Banking): "Such services lower the
transaction costs and time for our customers and fetch tidy returns for us."

"Supply chain management services lower transaction costs and time for our
customers and fetch tidy returns for us"
Samir Bhatia/Country Head (Corporate Banking)/HDFC Bank
Another revenue stream that the bank is tapping into is SMEs (small and
medium enterprises). Over the last three years, it has built a strong
business out of lending to small corporates. So much so that it now accounts
for 15 per cent of its corporate lendings, and is growing at 50 per cent
year-on-year. "Strong relationship management at ground level and
centralised credit processes have enabled us to ensure that there is not a
single default in this segment," boasts Bhatia.
Innovation For Growth
If you look at HDFC Bank's 10-year history, you'll find that it has evolved
at a gap of every two-and-a-half years. That means before 2007 is over, the
bank will look different from what it is today. Just how different? Some
signs are already evident. Credit cards and housing loans, for one. In
credit cards, the bank has recently broken even and this could become one of
its largest businesses. In housing loans, the bank entered into an
arrangement with its parent Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC)
Ltd. in September 2003, whereby it sells HDFC home loan products. Going
ahead, its Rs 150 crore a month of home loan business that comes via HDFC
could easily double the next year.
Then, there are other new businesses. Like the commodity business, where the
bank lends against warehouse IoUs, helping farmers cover price risk. Or like
the government business, launched two years ago, where the bank collects
income, sales and service taxes on behalf of the Central government. It
already ranks #3, but is now bidding to do more such collections for
railways, utilities and state transport corporations. Says Puri: "If we have
to look different every two-and-a-half years, then we have to get 25 to 35
per cent of our earnings from new products."
That explains why his lieutenants are busy scouting new opportunities.
Swaroop, for instance, is exploring the possibility of substituting the
moneylender, or providing small borrowers access to finance, or lending
against gold, especially in south India. Bhatia, on the other hand, is
looking at offering outsourced accounting services to corporate clients. But
strong growth needs strong capital. So, the bank's board has approved
issuance of American depository shares (ADS) in the next quarter. Yet, Puri
is more confident than ever. "Compared to where we were earlier, growing
from here will be a cakewalk." That, however, doesn't mean he won't go
selling when even he's out for a dinner.

The trick: pick the customers very carefully.

» Choose customers who can add lifetime value
» Increase penetration and sell more products to the same customer
» Leverage technology to better serve customers and tap opportunities
» Use distribution strength to market third-party products
» Pick top-tier corporates and offer higher-margin services
» Integrate with ERP systems of customers to lower costs
» Tap customer's suppliers to increase "stickiness"
» Focus on relationship in the case of small businesses

DEPOSITS (Rs crore)
NET PROFIT (Rs crore)
* Between December 10, 2003 and
December 9, 2004

This message is intended only for the use of the Addressee and may contain 
information that is PRIVILEGED and CONFIDENTIAL. If you are not the intended 
recipient, please erase all copies of the message and its attachments.  Any 
unauthorized access, usage, reproduction, disclosure of the contents of the 
mail and its attachments, without the explicit permission of the Bank is 
prohibited and State Bank Of India (SBI) or any of its officials, including the 
sender of this mail, would not in any way be liable for the same. SBI accepts 
no liability for any damage caused by this e-mail.
Email From ""Rajendra S. Pai" <rs.pai@xxxxxxxxx>" was security checked by 3.93  
version of CxProtect(tm)
On: sify_mta at: 09:55:41, 24-Dec-2004 Friday
Mailing list (sbinews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx) related information:

News/articles about SBI and Banking related matters published  in the print 
media, Internet etc will be circulated through this Mailing List. 

The messages in this list will help in improving awareness of SBI and its 
activities vis-a-vis the happenings in the Banking industry. This should be of 
help to all staff members of SBI, particularly those who are preparing for 
promotional written tests/interviews/group discussions. Subscription to this 
Mailing List is simple and FREE. Please check the procedure below. Please share 
this information with other colleagues/branches that could be interested in 
subscribing to this Mailing List. 

The messages circulated here should not be deemed to have the official 
endorsement of the SBI or any of its employees. The correct factual position 
may be ascertained from official sources. 

To join this mailing list, just send an email to sbinews-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
with the word 'subscribe' without the quotes in the subject of the email 

To leave this mailing list, just send an email to sbinews-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
with the word  'unsubscribe' without the quotes in the subject of the email 

Archives (old messages) are available for viewing at:
Click on the month-year at the lower left corner to view messages posted during 
that month. 

This is an announcements/newsletter type mailing list i.e. only the Moderator/s 
can post messages to the list. 

This mailing list is maintained and moderated by Sri. R.S.Pai, currently 
working as Chief Manager(IT-Internet Banking), SBI, Corporate Centre, Mumbai. 
Visit http://rspai.tripod.com for some useful Banking, Reference and Utilities 

Other related posts:

  • » [sbinews] Best Bank 2004 -HDFC Bank -Article from Business Today (Text Version)