Bank aspirants rush for talent, bring big biz for headhunters Egon Zender, Randstad, Vito India



Executives at headhunters Egon Zender, Heidrick & Struggles, Randstad and Vito India are suddenly on their toes in a dull hiring market as new bank aspirants such as RIL, L&T Finance, Religare and Aditya Birla Group scramble for top talent.

 MUMBAI: Executives at headhunters Egon Zender, Heidrick & Struggles, Randstad and Vito India are suddenly on their toes in a dull hiring market as newbank aspirants such as RIL, L&T Finance, Religare and


Aditya Birla Group scramble for top talent.

Banking experts at these hiring companies are burning the midnight oil to identify candidates from prospective chief executives to compliance officers, compiling a list that would impress the regulator and brighten their clients' chances. Different headhunting firms are advising clients on their different talent needs, but no mandates have been awarded yet.

"The new applicants are looking at hiring people with a credible record and who can build a strong operating model and have a strong corporate, rural, retail and SME banking background," said Puneet Singh, partner, financial services, and head-north India at global executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles.

Fresh Impetus to Employment

Singh's organisation is advising some of the prospective top applicants on their talent needs. The headhunters are likely to shortlist candidates from many banks, including, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank, notwithstanding the recent money-laundering charges, and 
Citigroup and State Bank of India. The candidates will not only need to have years of experience, but also a record of building profitable business without compromising on regulatory guidelines.

"They are interested in top guys from consulting firms who are into the banking and financial services sector, as well as from 
banks and financial services institutions," says Aditya Narayan Mishra, president, India unit, at Dutch headhunter Randstad Holding.

The government's decision to issue bank licences has given a fresh impetus to entrepreneurship and employment in the banking sector, with former Infosys chief financial officer Mohandas Pai and L&T throwing their hats into the ring.

"It has been a long-held dream to start a bank," said micro financier Ramesh Ramanathan, who plans to partner Pai to seek a licence. "The clock started to tick when the final guidelines came out. We are very confident that we have the ability to demonstrate new fundraising."

Some of the biggest names in corporate India are in the reckoning for new banking licences, including Aditya Birla Financial Services, Reliance Industries, Reliance Capital, Shriram Transport, Piramal Enterprises, Mahindra Financial Services, Bajaj Finserv, L&T Finance, Tata Capital, Religare, Cholamandalam Finance, Edelweiss, Videocon and IDFC.

"Some of the non-banking financial companies already have talent on the asset side and need to ramp up on the liability side," said Namrita Jhangiani, partner and head of financial services at Egon Zehnder. "These NBFCs already have a relationship with the regulators. It is the non-NBFCs that have a bigger gap to fill when it comes to talent."

Candidates who could be high on the headhunters' radar include Sonjoy Chatterjee of 
Goldman Sachs, Shailendra Bhandari of ING Vysya and Bala Swaminathan at Westpac in Singapore.

Reuben Mistry, CEO of Vito India, a homegrown executive search firm that is connected to some of these build-outs, says "While good talent is present in a limited measure in both global and domestic private banks, there are strong exit barriers. Mobility to these newer platforms, however exciting a proposition they may be, will not be easy pickings." An email query sent to RILBSE 0.18 % did not elicit response while spokespersons of Aditya Birla Financial Services and Reliance ADAG declined to participate in the story.