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Hitachi’s Ramesh Srinivasan to join BankBazaar as CFO

BENGALURU: Financial marketplace BankBazaar has announced the appointment of Ramesh Srinivasan as its new CFO. Srinivasan comes with 22 years of experience in the banking and financial services Industry (BFSI) segment and was earlier the financial advisor at

Hitachi

Payment Services.

Prior to his current role, he was chief financial officer and was also in charge of business planning and strategy for BNA and CRM at Hitachi Payment Services.

Srinivasan would be based in Chennai and would be responsible for leading the company towards an IPO release.

“Our technology and paperless platform have made BankBazaar the flag-bearer in helping customers access the right financial products online in the safest and simplest manner. Now we are looking to consolidate our successes and plan ahead with an eye on releasing our IPO in 2020-22. We are confident that Ramesh’s expertise in developing financial processes will take us further on our path,” said Adhil Shetty, CEO, BankBazaar.

Previously, BankBazaar had announced that it would be recruiting approximately 400 new employees. As of August 2017, the company has welcomed more than 130 new employees, and is in the process of recruiting more.

Last year, the company expanded into the international market, beginning with Singapore and followed by Malaysia in 2017.

BankBazaar is funded by global investors such as Walden International, Sequoia Capital, Fidelity Growth Partners, Mousse Partners and Amazon, and has received investment of $80 million till date.

Digital CFOs are here: Why the CFO has clear stake in enterprise IT strategy

By Giridhar Sanjeevi & Ajay Kumar

The recent digital transformation of finance has not just lead to creation of innovative business models, but has also impacted the roles and responsibilities of today’s CFOs. Now, it is not enough if a CFO only caters to the ‘financial aspects’ of an enterprise, but needs to play a larger role in influencing strategic business decisions.

It is now required for a CFO to develop skills beyond the traditional responsibilities, like business planning and addressing the challenges faced by the organization during crisis. Hence, CFOs of to-day, need to play a more persified role, with respect to giving inputs from her domain of expertise in the company’s strategic decision-making process.

Meanwhile, enterprises across industries are also taking steps towards ensuring that their CFOs develop new skills to be able to support the goals of the organization. This implies that the CFOs are facing a very challenging roadmap ahead of them, wherein they are expected to take the lead in such operations.

Moreover, transforming the organization and taking accountability for new challenges and roles is increasingly becoming a necessity for any CFO who wants to stay at the top.

1. The Digital Landscape
With user experience now at the forefront of the customer-centric strategy for both large and small enterprise, it is now more important than ever to be able to communicate effectively through all available digital interfaces. The mix of information, both on premise & off it can be used most efficiently by a CFO by having a proper inter departmental system. For instance, an FMCG major could provide a quick snapshot of the logistics function in key areas to the finance head, on demand. It is a tremendous idea on paper and it can solve multiple issues. Implementing it though, is no mean feat and would require a phenomenally high order of inter-departmental alignment.

2. Data Management
Today, many organizations are moving away from legacy systems that had kept such customer-focused data on the back burner and are driving various new initiatives that align with the custom-ers’ true interests. This has been possible because they are increasingly realizing the potential of data, and how by identifying patterns or using a predictive system they can make strategic changes in their business model and align it with their goals. Financial data technology is now able to be decentralize data using emerging technologies like blockchain. With the right server application, banking and financial institutions can further cut costs and make processes more efficient.

3. Blurring Lines Between CFO & CIO
There is a wide gap between reporting a financial data and analyzing it. With automation disrupting mechanical work, the traditional role of CFOs and CIOs is also getting altered at an increasing pace. Taking the lead in ownership of both roles adds to a disadvantage in the long run. Firms which are yet to take such a bold step are advised to bring in data experts or a Chief Data Officer who can help tremendously. While there may be a pre-ponderance of existing data, the Chief Data Officer will invariably know exactly what questions to ask, thus, extracting the best value from the available data sets.

4. Emergence of the Cloud Technology
Differentiating between the data and categorizing it into sets which need to be used internally, and parts which should go on cloud, can be complicated. The CFOs especially, are playing the role of determining which functions should be kept on-premise and which should be transferred to the cloud. Furthermore, expensive on-premise licenses and software contracts are being scrutinized thoroughly and a cost benefit analysis performed rigorously, almost on each occasion. Even though it is less expensive and offers a quicker speed-to-market, cloud has its limitations too — customizations are tricky and at best, avoidable.

It is incumbent upon the CFO to distill clearly, the functions that can be outsourced to a cloud solu-tion provider, while retaining the critical ones in-house. Moreover, cyber security threats are omni-present, both on and off-premise, and it is the nature of information that may be at risk and the degree of that risk, which needs to be evaluated inpidually.

5. Amenable off-premise functions
Many enterprises have their hands tied behind their backs, as decades-old legacy systems that have kept sprouting out are creating a nuisance – you disrupt one system and there is a domino effect on others that is hard, expensive and time consuming to control. A high degree of customization in existing processes further complicates the situation and companies are tempted to brush the issue under the carpet. Accounts Payable and Payrolls Management are two classical examples of functions that can be pushed into the realm of the cloud. They free up bandwidth for true business analyses within the company and make for a win-win situation for the company and the employees. Such digitization is also seen to improve overall employee morale.

The Way Forward
Some of the initiatives taken by the government of India in the recent past, including Digital India, have opened doors for enterprises to focus on their digital transformational journey. However, there must be safeguards and balances in check to ensure cyber threats are avoided, which can be ensured by performing checks and testing from time to time.

CFOs of today have a clear stake in enterprise IT strategy and in shaping how an enterprise best realizes its cost benefits. As the finance function is ultimately about the allocation of resources, CFOs can inadvertently establish a clear organizational culture for digital transformation without even realizing it. Now is more important than ever, for CFOs to realize that it is the time for them to set new trends and equip their organizations with digital capabilities, rather than following the traditional path.

(Giridhar Sanjeevi is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Taj Hotels & Ajay Kumar, Senior Director, Sales Consulting ERP & EPM, Oracle (India))

Bajaj Auto CFO Soumen Ray resigns, says company

Bajaj Auto, on Friday, stated that Chief Financial Officer Soumen Ray has resigned.

Ray is a Chartered Accountant with 23 years of experience in the field.

He has worked with Bajaj Auto Limited for over three years now, while he’s served as the CFO of the company for about 2 and a half years.

Meanwhile, Bajaj Auto on Friday reported 16% decline in its total domestic sales to 192,348 units in September 2021.

Citi ​appoints Rajeev Mantri as ​CFO, Citi India and ​cluster ​finance ​head, ​south Asia

Citi has announced the appointment of Rajeev Mantri as chief financial officer (CFO), Citi India, and cluster finance head, south Asia, effective October 5, 2021, said a statement issued today.

In this role, Mantri will be based in Mumbai, and responsible for the finance function, overseeing business planning and strategy, balance sheet management, financial controls, reporting and tax matters and will focus on delivering the financial plan, while working closely with key stakeholders on franchise-level matters in India. In addition, he will also provide governance and oversight on the finance function of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

He will report to Ashu Khullar, CEO, Citi India and Tim Monger, Asia Pacific CFO, Citi. He takes on the role from Niraj Parekh, who will move to New York as the head of financial planning and analysis for the Institutional Clients Group.

Mantri has over 23 years of experience in the finance function across India, UAE and Singapore. Prior to this appointment, he was the CFO at TransUnion CIBIL. He has also worked at Standard Chartered Bank in several senior finance roles across wholesale banking, retail banking, financial controls, regulatory reporting, cost and balance sheet management.

Citi has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.

Action against ex-CFO in Satyam case within a week: ICAI

NEW DELHI: Accounting regulator ICAI today said it will decided the case concerning former CFO of Satyam Computer in the Rs 14,000-crore accounting scam within a week.

“The disciplinary committee of ICAI will take a decision based on the available documents against ex-Satyam CFO. The report will be finalised by the Committee with a week’s time,” said president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) G Ramaswamy.

Srinivas Vadlamani was CFO of the

Satyam Computer Services

(now Mahindra Satyam) at the time when its founder chairman B Ramalinga Raju admitted to fudging the account books of the company.

The institute has been probing the Satyam case since January 2009 and has already served notices to several persons in connection with the case.

Earlier this month, ICAI had barred two Lovelock and Lewes auditors from practice for life and slapped penalty of Rs 5 lakh each for their role in the accounting scam.

In 2009, ICAI had set up a 6-member special committee to look into the fraud in Hyderabad-based IT company.

Following admission of fraud by Raju, the scam was probed by different agencies including CBI, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), the Securities and Exchange Board of India and ICAI.

The IT company was later taken over by Tech Mahindra, which has renamed it as Mahindra Satyam.

Kotak Mahindra denies takeover talks with IndusInd, but says its open for M&A opportunities

Mumbai:

Kotak Mahindra Bank

on Monday denied takeover talks with

IndusInd Bank

but said they were open to M&A opportunities. News agency Bloomberg had reported that Kotak Mahindra Bank is exploring a takeover of smaller rival IndusInd Bank to create the nation’s eighth-largest financial firm by assets.

“Not saying no to any of those growth avenues but certainly not on this one,” said Jaimin Bhatt, group CFO, Kotak Mahindra Bank. “When we raised capital in the first quarter of this year, we did talk about the fact that we will look at acquisitions, whether it is companies or assets.”

The bank which raised more than Rs 7500 crore through a QIP route in May this year said it has enough capital cushion to explore inorganic opportunities.

“Right now, that is cushion of capital. We will have to get into, whether it is right opportunities, whether it is growing on the organic track,” Bhatt added. “As we see green-shoots coming in, we will be open to growing advances book also. We have all the building blocks ready to be growing. Having capital is cushion but we will use it judiciously.”

Bloomberg had reported that Uday Kotak is exploring an all-stock acquisition and has held initial talks over the proposal in which the founders of IndusInd Bank could retain a stake in the lender after a deal.

Private lender IndusInd Bank had denied having any exploratory take-over talks with peer Kotak and said it has unstinted support from its promoters, the Hinduja family.

“IndusInd Bank categorically denies any such developments, its malicious and incorrect,” the bank had said in an email response. “The Promoter of IndusInd Bank, IndusInd International Holdings Limited (IIHL), reiterate their full support to the IndusInd Bank, now and always.”

Kotak Mahindra Bank on reported a 27% rise in profits to Rs 2184 crore at the end of the September quarter on the back of high returns from its investment book. The bank had reported a profit of Rs 1724 crore same period a year ago.

Net Interest Income (NII) – the difference between interest earned and expended grew 17% to Rs 3913 crore versus Rs 3350 crore a year earlier. Net interest margin (NIM) was at a healthy 4.52%.

The lender continued with its conservative stance on expanding the book and saw its advances degrow by 4% to Rs 2.04 lakh crore at the end of September as against Rs 2.13 lakh crore last year.

“We have chosen market linked growth at this point in time cause earnings growth is important to us, as and when the credit side recovers we will grow in that segment as well,” said Dipak Gupta, joint MD, Kotak Mahindra Bank. “We are seeing a K-shaped recovery while some segments like home loans and agriculture have improved there is still some time for the broader economy to pick up pace.”

On the asset quality front the gross non-performing asset ratio was at 2.55% against 2.32% a year ago while the net NPA was at 0.64% versus 0.85%. The lender did not identify any NPAs since August 31, 2020, in line with the interim order of the Supreme Court.

Though the bank released proforma NPAs and said that if the order was not implemented the gross NPA would have been 2.70% and NNPA 0.74%. The bank, however, made provision for such advances.

“I don’t say it’s hunky dory and things are back to normal, but it’s improving,” Gupta said. “The proforma NPAs give a reasonable picture of the asset quality situation. Still early days for restructuring to pan out, we are seeing some flow on the retail and MSME side but not much from the corporates.”

The bank set aside Rs 368 crore for provisions and contingencies in the September quarter, compared to Rs 962 crore in June quarter and Rs 408 crore in the same period last year.

COVID related provisions as on September stood at Rs.1,279 crore which was 0.62% of net advances. The lender set aside just Rs 13 crore in the reporting quarter, compared to Rs 616 crore in the previous quarter.

( Originally published on Oct 26, 2020 )

Leadership changes at Mahindra & Mahindra come into force

By Lijee Philip

Mumbai: On Wednesday, Mahindra & Mahindra will see the reshuffle of its top management finally take effect, a transition during a difficult time for a company struggling to overcome a sales slump and mounting competition.

The new leadership structure will ensure more defined responsibilities, sources said.

To start with, the UV and tractor maker has shortlisted four to five key senior strategic positions—head of strategy, IT, customer experience/ brand as well as a CFO — that will be announced shortly.

Some roles are completely new positions. For instance, the current head of strategy Anish Shah becomes the deputy managing director, and the incumbent CFO V S Parthasarathy will now head the new mobility business. As the company looks for a new CFO, and a strategy head, the new positions of brand and customer experience are being created to make the company more market-friendly and open to change.

Mahindra has in the past preferred not to make lateral hiring of top management. Insiders say that while all the recently announced auto and farm sector positions were filled by internal talent, the new positions will be lateral appointments. The move comes when the company is facing challenging times in key segments.

Mahindra is also looking at realigning functions, and in the process working on rationalisation of employees – all of which are part of the BCG-led recommendations of the ‘Simplicity’ project. The implementation of this exercise may speed up once the environment improves.

Even as the management transition is underway, Michael Perschke, stepped down as CEO of Automobili Pininfarina last week. In a Linkedin post he explained he is stepping down from his duties as CEO . “I am taking a break for now,” he said.

People ET spoke to expect the new management may look at a leaner organisation.

The new strategy laid down by the new management will see some headwinds. Sources indicate that the new management will be more aggressive in decision making.

A person in the know, who spoke to ET on the condition of anonymity, said that with the change in management will come a change in approach. “A new leader has a new way of working. That does not mean there will be no continuity. Anand Mahindra continues to be the conscience keeper of the company. He will see to it that there is continuity…,” he explained.

M&M declined to comment on a detailed query sent by ET.

“The new management team must always be conscious of the virtues of a decades-old company culture at a company like Mahindra, and that may still be useful to nurture. Picking the right shift levers and going all out with them could help turbocharge the group,” said HR consultant Prabir Jha.

The thinking behind the rationalisation strategy is also to shore up the other group companies besides auto and tractor, which has been the focus over the last two decades. This will ensure a fair valuation in the stock prices, which have taken a beating in the recent past.

Sectors such as hospitality, logistics, finance and the new mobility business will be given importance by the new management.

As stalwarts such as Rajan Wadhera and Rajeev Dubey move on from March 31, with Pawan Goenka due to retire in April 2021, the new management clearly has its task cut out, say experts.

Rolls-Royce names former Deloitte partner Kakoullis as CFO

LONDON: Britain’s Rolls-Royce named Panos Kakoullis as its new chief financial officer, picking the former head of Deloitte‘s audit and assurance practice to help steer its cost-cutting and simplification as it tries to ride out COVID-19.

The pandemic has shattered Rolls-Royce’s finances because it is paid by airlines on a flying-hours basis, and the company warned in January that the start of this year was even more difficult than expected.

The aero-engines maker said Kakoullis would start on May 3.

Chief Executive Warren East said his experience made him a good fit.

“Panos delivered significant transformational change at Deloitte, streamlining and simplifying the business and we look forward to benefitting from his expertise and experience as we deliver on our fundamental reorganisation,” East said.

Rolls’s current CFO Stephen Daintith, who resigned last year after being poached by online retailer group Ocado, will leave Rolls-Royce on Mar. 19. Ben Fidler, currently acting deputy CFO, will be interim CFO in the six weeks until Kakoullis arrives.

Jefferies analyst Sandy Morris said of the appointment: “We suspect the market might have been more immediately reassured by a familiar name, one with corporate experience, but it is hard to question Mr Kakoullis’s experience, technical credentials and knowledge of driving the adoption of AI and advanced analytics.”

Despite the deepening travel crisis due to new strains of the coronavirus, Rolls has said its liquidity of 9 billion pounds gives it confidence.

It is selling assets worth 2 billion pounds and cutting more than 1 billion pounds in costs by axing 9,000 jobs, closing factories and planning a two week operational shutdown in the summer of some units.

Kakoullis joined Deloitte as a graduate and worked there until May 2019. He has since worked for PA Consulting.

RattanIndia Finance JV partners agree to appoint new CEO, CFO

In a major relief to the US-based $85 billion private equity firm Lone Star Funds, the estranged joint venture partners in RattanIndia Finance Pvt Ltd have amicably decided to appoint a new chief executive officer (CEO) within two working weeks and a new chief financial officer (CFO) within eight weeks.

Last Thursday, LSF 10 Rose Investments, a subsidiary of Lone Star Funds and an investor in the company, and its joint venture partner Rajiv Rattan agreed to certain interim measures until the Delhi bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) finally decides on the matter.

“The board shall meet and decide on the appointment of the CEO within two working weeks from June 11, 2021,” a bench comprising judicial member PSN Prasad and technical member Narender Kumar Bhola said in an oral order. “Both the parties shall strictly follow Article 140 of Article of Association, in appointing CFO. The process shall be completed within eight weeks.”

The tribunal was hearing a petition filed by Lone Star Funds against RattanIndia Finance, a non-banking finance company, alleging irregularities and mismanagement in the company.

During a late evening hearing on Thursday, both the parties also agreed that LSF 10 Rose Investments will also be provided with statements of all the bank account statements of RattanIndia Finance every month. The parties agreed that except for the usual course of business, both parties will not create any lien or charge on the assets of the company until the tribunal’s final order.

The tribunal posted the matter for further hearing on September 7.

LSF 10 Rose Investments has argued in its petition before the tribunal that the respondents have already put the finance of the company at grave risk by creating unauthorised liens for the benefit of unknown third parties to the tune of about Rs 160 crore. Now, the foreign fund is seeking relief from the tribunal, including restraining RattanIndia Finance from lending until a proper governance structure becomes operational as well as forensic investigation into the company.

Rajiv Rattan has also filed a countersuit of oppression and mismanagement against the Lone Star Funds subsidiary in the NCLT.

In April 2018, LSF 10 Rose Investments and Rajiv Rattan had formed an equally owned joint venture finance company. At the time, the parties had contemplated investing $200 million (more than Rs 1,400 crore) each in the company, RattanIndia.

( Originally published on Jun 13, 2021 )

Fintech lender Aye Finance appoints Mayank Thatte as CFO

Aye Finance – a

fintech

lender servicing the credit needs of the micro-enterprise segment has brought on board Mayank Thatte as its chief financial officer.

Thatte’s last assignment was as CFO at Electronica Finance, and he has over 19 years of experience working with leading organisations in the BFSI space – Tata Motors Finance, Tata Capital, ICICI Bank, among others. He brings to his new role a comprehensive perspective on all the corporate finance, treasury, MIS and accounting functions and will be responsible for strengthening the financial and regulatory reporting and driving operational and digital transformation.

“Mayank’s impressive track record of success in treasury, financial controllership and regulatory compliances is an excellent fit with our objectives and growth plans. His appointment is fundamental at these times which, although are challenging, also offer us an opportunity to support our chosen customer segment of micro-enterprises, and his focus on managing and optimising Aye’s operating efficiency and financial performance will ably support our strategies,” Sanjay Sharma, managing director of Aye Finance, told ET.

“Aye has been transforming micro-enterprise lending in India and has been instrumental in serving the credit needs of the bottom of the pyramid businesses. I look forward to working with the management and the board and supporting its growth plans,” said Thatte.

The company’s investors include CapitalG (erstwhile Google Capital), Elevation Capital (erstwhile SAIF Partners), LGT, Falcon Edge Capital, A91 Partners and MAJ Invest, and has leading banks and impact investors from India (SBI, HDFC, ICICI, Nabkisan, etc) and international markets (FMO, BlueOrchard, Symbiotics, Triple Jump, etc.) that provide debt lines to support it in its mission to transform micro-enterprise lending in India.