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Back from the dead… and how

india Updated: Mar 29, 2010 01:20 IST
Mahua Venkatesh
Mahua Venkatesh
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Smart policies, and a leg up from the government, have seen Indian Bank transform itself from a loss-making venture to a profit-making enterprise within a span of eight years. It is now all set to aggressively expand its presence nationwide.

And here’s the icing on the cake: customers across 18 cities have ranked the bank No. 1 among state-owned banks and fourth overall It pipped its more illustrious peers — including the country’s largest bank, State Bank of India — to the post, according to the Hindustan Times— MaRS Survey on Consumer Satisfaction in Banking.

Even better, it is within striking distance of the three private sector rivals who are ahead.

The Chennai-based bank, which was saddled with accumulated losses of Rs 3,849.62 crore as on March 31, 2002, posted a net profit of Rs 1,245.32 crore in 2008-09.

The remarkable turnaround was scripted by smart policies, aggressive marketing strategy and government handholding.

In a huge vote of confidence, consumers in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, have rated it the country’s best bank. Consumers in Chandigarh also feel the same way. And six cities have ranked it among the top 5.

Indian Bank currently has a branch network of 1,700, of which 60 per cent is in southern India. But realising the importance of a pan-India presence, the bank reinvented its image and positioned itself as a bank for the entire country and has largely succeeded in shedding its image of a south Indian bank.

“We want to add more branches to give ourselves a pan-India presence,” M.S. Sundara Rajan, chairman and managing director of the bank, tells Hindustan Times.

It has added 100 branches this year, and hopes to add another 100 in the next. It also has branches in Singapore and Colombo.

The bank also adopted belligerent marketing strategy to connect with consumers. And it seems to be succeeding in its efforts.

“I’m very happy with Indian Bank,” says Sandeep Ahluwalia, who runs Delhi-based event management company Ideas Unlimited. “Its staff is very customer-oriented, and it has a quick turnaround time.”

Rajan also says the bank is looking at a deposit growth of 17 per cent and a credit of 20 per cent for 2010-11. “We have been very proactive in our efforts and have come a long way from where we were,” he adds.

But there are still some areas where it needs to get its act together. It ranks a lowly 10th in “experience with bank account statements” and sixth in ATMs, the most popular point of contact for customers with their banks.

The management is aware of these shortcomings. Can it address them? Wait for next year’s survey to find out.