In a first, SBI hires externally to fill CFO post

MUMBAI: State Bank of India (SBI) has appointed Charanjit Attra, a consultant with EY, as its chief financial officer (CFO). This is the first time that the bank is hiring laterally for the position. A vacancy was created in March this year after the bank’s former CFO Prashant Kumar put in his papers to join Yes Bank as an RBI-appointed MD & CEO to implement a rescue package. In the interim, C Venkat Nageshwar was officiating as the CFO.
Attra was until recently EY India’s financial services and financial accounting advisory services (FAAS) partner. He is a chartered accountant from India and has cleared the CPA from Denver, Colorado (US). He was earlier a CFO with ICICI Securities. While SBI’s former CFO Kumar was a deputy managing director at SBI, the new incumbent will report to the deputy managing director (finance) — a new position created by the bank.

SBI was forced to cast its net wide for a CFO after the RBI insisted on minimum qualification for the post as well as for a chief technology officer (CTO). According to RBI norms, the CFO should be a qualified chartered accountant with minimum 15 years’ experience in overseeing financial operations, preferably accounting and taxation matters, in banks/large corporates/public sector undertakings/ financial services organisations, of which 10 years should be in banks or financial services with five years’ experience at senior management level. Some bankers feel that the role of a CFO in a bank is different from a similar position in a corporate entity.
“In a bank, finance is the raw material for the organisation’s operations and senior management executives are experts in finance, unlike in corporates where finance is one of the functions of management,” said a banker. The RBI has, however, taken a tough stance on this and had even turned down a private bank’s proposal to appoint a CFO who did not meet its specifications.
SBI, meanwhile, is continuing to hire specialists of manager rank and above for retail products, enterprise, and technology architecture and risk management. Last month, the bank had issued a statement that it plans to recruit 14,000 employees during the current fiscal. It currently has around 2.5 lakh employees.
The bank’s statement on hiring came after opposition parties said that its special voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) was aimed at reducing headcount. The bank clarified that the VRS was aimed at providing a “congenial solution to employees who expressed desire for making strategic shift in their vocations, either due to professional growth limitations, mobility issues, health conditions or family situations”.

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