India’s second-largest public sector bank, Canara’s shares have quadrupled in the last three years on the back of robust performance on all metrics including business growth, profitability and reduction of NPAs. The broader NIFTY PSU Bank Index in the same period has grown slightly over 2.3 times. The current CEO and MD of the bank, K Satyanaryana Raju, who took office in February last year has continued to build on the growth momentum set by his predecessors. In an interview to BL, the MD says the bank will continue to underpromise and overdeliver to all stakeholders. Edited Excerpts:


You reported a very good set of numbers but markets seemed a bit disappointed with the 10 percent growth you are projecting for next year which is lower than the just concluded FY’s growth

We have tried to maintain a consistent growth story. My approach is to work on fundamentals and not think of short-term gains. When you plan for the long-term sometimes you may have to temporarily suffer. And when you are doing that, it is better to be as transparent as possible. Whenever we have concerns, we share with them our stakeholders, we don’t keep them in the dark. You will realize that we have not lost aggression in our business. However, we do not want to get into unhealthy competition. Emphasis is on profitable growth and not growth for its own sake.

Which is why we are more aggressive in the RAM (Retail, Agriculture, MSME) sector than in the corporate sector. We are not neglecting the corporate sector, but our composition, one year back was 54% and 46%. But we aim that RAM should be at 58% and corporate should be at 42%. So we are moving towards that. Generally, we give conservative guidance and we surpass that with the comfortable margin.


The lower growth projection is it because the economy is not growing at the same pace as last year and thus the demand for credit has come down?

Let me clarify to you categorically that it is not that we are seeing any downfall in the credit demand, it contains to remain roboust. However, we are prioritizing what sectors we want to lend to. If suppose we can convince those other borrowers at our acceptable rate, we don’t mind continuing that, then that may not impact on our credit growth.


Traditionally CASA (Current Account Savings Account) deposits has been weaker for Canara than comparable peers which affects your cost of funds. Steps being taken to address that?

Between December to March if you see our CASA growth is 63 basis points. Growth is there. Also, we are taking a number of new initiatives including launching several new products aimed at youth, woman, salaried class, non-salaried class, retired people and current account for smaller merchants. We are launching industry first type of products and we are getting a huge traction on that.


There was recently a viral video of an employee being ill-treated by a senior. So how are you trying to ensure that there is no loss of talent that you will continue to attract and retain the best talent?

When working in an organization as large as ours there might be one or two minor stray incidents, which we do not accept or condone at all. On the same day we clarified that we will never encourage such type of (ill-treatment). We have and will take necessary corrective actions on that issue.