As I cover the last mile of my banking journey, I am tempted to reflect at the changes that banking has seen over the last 3-4 decades. The first definition that we learnt was – banks accept money from depositors and lend it for business. The margin between deposit and lending rates is their profit for running operations.
While it would not be possible to describe the entire journey of banking traversed by me in a few lines and that would require a few volumes and at some stage I may pen my journey as my memoirs, a few significant changes that need to be highlighted are as under:
(1) I seldom visit a branch and do all my banking using mobile and internet apps. Branches have become more of sale and acquisition outlets rather than service outlets.
(2) The only fee we knew was processing fee on large corporate advances and that too we used to ask for apologetically, waiving it partially or completely generously. Little did we realise that almost all the services would become paid services, retail fee would outnumber the corporate fee and that fee will become as important component of bottom line as interest!
(3) Sale efforts were limited to “deposit fortnights” when the expectation was to open higher number of accounts that were generally used to be opened in normal course. Selling, including loan and third party products was completely unimaginable.
(4) The best banker was one who could write daily’s trial balance (called clean cash book) and tally ledgers promptly ( monthly exercise that consumed the most of a banker’s time) unlike today when we recognise and reward the best seller!
(5) This instance is oft quoted by me for it brings to the fore the irony of network expansion. When we wanted to open the second branch in one of the large 4 megalopolises, there was hue and cry from the first branch about serious threat to its business potential. Today we have at least 200+ branches in each of these cities and their adjoining suburbs.
(5) Treasuries would manage funds and liquidity and cover forwards for clients. That treasuries would become profit centres and undertake complex derivatives and other transactions for clients as also on proprietary basis was inconceivable.
(6) Credit card was a coveted possession and cheques of one of the foreign banks would inspire awe. DDs and POs were much sought after instruments and banks would take their own sweet time to issue them. Teller/ cashier queues were unavoidable for ATMs were few and far between!
The above list is very long and as aforesaid, summing up changes would require a volume or two. In fact, many of you can readily add to the above list from your first hand experiences. But it’s been a true metamorphosis, which is not as much talked about as telecom, automobile or internet revolutions, but is no less significant! It’s been a remarkable transformation, but more importantly it’s just the beginning! Some of the new initiatives in the pipeline are going to change the way banking is done. While the last 4 decades have been transitional, next 4 years could be transformational. And when we are seeing such a pace of change, who could risk making forecast for next 4 decades and hence use of the expression 4 years!