The second largest Indian lender plans 50 branches in J&K by the end of 2011
HDFC Bank, the second largest private bank in the country, opened its first branch in Leh (Ladakh) today. The branch was inaugurated by Abdul Rahim Rather, finance minister, Jammu & Kashmir.
At 10,500 feet above sea level, this is one of the highest branches in the world. With its footprint in Leh, HDFC Bank hopes to play a key role in financial inclusion by providing credit and other financial instruments customised for the requirements of the local populace.
Through its initiatives, HDFC Bank has been reaching out to around 600 million unbanked Indians, most of them in rural India.
Navin Puri, country head, branch banking, HDFC Bank, told the media in Mumbai: “As a leading bank of the country, we are committed to take modern banking to remote places where it is required the most and make a difference to the lives of people there. Opening a branch in Leh is the first step towards what we believe will be a long and mutually beneficial partnership.”
Senior executive VP, Ravi Narayanan, branch banking head, HDFC Bank, said: “With this branch in Leh, we have taken modern banking to new heights. Using state-of-the-art technology, products to suit local needs and personalised attention, we are confident of serving the people of this region well. We plan to have more than 50 branches in Jammu & Kashmir by the end of year.”
ICICI Securities Ltd, an integrated financial services firm in India and Collins Stewart Hawkpoint, UK-based independent financial advisory group, has announced a broad alliance to co-operate with each other in growing their business franchises. The alliance covers a wide range of investment banking and institutional sales activities, including corporate advisory services, research-led agency securities trading and capital markets advice.
The opportunities to be explored jointly will include advisory services, private equity transactions, debt-advisory services and other corporate finance advice. In addition, the alliance will cover introductions of Indian companies to the London securities markets; the distribution into the UK and Europe of the offerings and placements of Indian or dual-listed securities; and the joint publication and distribution into the UK and Europe of research on over 100 Indian listed companies and the facilitation of secondary trading, through ICICI Securities, of securities of Indian listed companies.
Anup Bagchi, managing director & CEO of ICICI Securities said: “Over the years, corporate clients have been seeking opportunities to enhance their presence in the UK and Europe to gain access to their technologies and markets. At the same time, investors are keen to participate in Indian investments—both primary as well as secondary. ICICI Securities corporate clients as well as institutional investor clients will immensely benefit from the partnership with Collins Stewart Hawkpoint.”
Mark Brown, chief executive of Collins Stewart Hawkpoint, said: “India presents Collins Stewart Hawkpoint with a wide range of opportunities in corporate advisory activities and capital markets and this arrangement plays to the strengths of our investment banking activities. We are particularly pleased to be working with ICICI Securities, one of the major first class Indian investment banking and securities firms.”
RBI panel on customer services has also recommended that pensioners be allowed to submit annual life certificate at any branch of the bank
The Reserve Bank of India-appointed committee on bank customer services has recommended prioritised services for senior citizens and physically handicapped persons through effective crowd management.
According to the report of the committee that was submitted on Wednesday, pensioners should be allowed to submit their annual life certificate at any of the bank branches and not necessarily at the home branch and all such certificates ought to be maintained in a centralised database.
"The data relating to individual pensioners, the monthly certificates that pensioners would desire, should be available in a secure domain for immediate retrieval and usage," the report says.
The committee was headed by M Damodaran, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The recommendations, if implemented, will be a relief for senior citizens who otherwise have to travel long distances to get to the bank head office for such matters.
Moneylife has highlighted these issues regularly and recently reported that the committee was working on such pro-consumer steps. (Read, "RBI report on customer services expected to be pro-consumer")
Another important suggestion by the committee is that banks should make arrangements to deliver pensions to sick and disabled pensioners at their doorstep. It has also said that "there should be uniformity among banks as to the age for consideration of the longevity, based on which a pensioner's loan is calculated."
On the contentious issue of 'either' or 'survivor', the committee says that "on the demise of the pensioner, the existing 'either or survivor' pension account should become a single account in the name of the 'survivor' and the family pension should automatically be credited to such accounts. Similarly, all joint accounts with 'either or survivor' clause should become single accounts of the 'survivor' after the demise of the other joint account holder."
The committee also recommended that there should be an SMS alert service on the balance in accounts, to be sent at periodic intervals, as well as about due dates for submission of important documents. It also suggested that the customers list in the senior citizens category should be automatically updated based on the date of birth.
Other recommendations include the streamlining and fine-tuning of the functioning of Banks' Centralised Pension Processing Centres to ensure timely disbursal of pension, commencement of family pension on time and error-free calculation of pensions. It also said that "in line with the RBI Guidelines and Board approved Policies, there must be hassle-free settlement of amount dues to the nominee/legal heir, as and when required."